Gold Blooded: New format, same standard for NBA Entertainment’s championship storytelling

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Stephen Curry and the Warriors celebrate winning the 2021 NBA Championship.

Starting Tuesday, September 27, when fans open the redesigned NBA app, they’ll be treated to rich content from every NBA game, social-style vertical video stories, unprecedented access to players and teams, new original programming, existing favorites, as well free access to the NBA vault.

Of note is new content, Gold Blooded – a seven-part documentary that tells the story of the Golden State Warriors’ journey to the 2022 NBA Championship. The series features exclusive, never-before-seen footage and interviews with team leaders, coaches and players including the Big Three Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. The first two episodes of the series are available with the launch of the app, with new episodes arriving every Tuesday and Thursday until the start of the regular season.

“We usually do an end-of-year movie, a one-off throwback to the team that won the NBA championship,” said Dion Cocoros, director of Gold Blooded. “To break this down into seven parts, we had to be as innovative as we were telling the story. So it was exciting not just to tell the story of the Warriors, which is an amazing journey to the title, but to do something different and innovative at the same time.”

After two seasons of setbacks and struggles, the Warriors are whole again, with high hopes at training camp.

NBA Entertainment has documented the greatness of basketball for decades. They’ve captured the NBA’s best moments, players and teams, and told the stories of many championship teams. What was once a VHS tape became a DVD; what was a DVD became a Blu Ray; then it went to television and streaming services and the rollout changed a bit. “The Last Dance” was a 10-part series chronicling the Chicago Bulls in 1997-98, released over a five-week period in 2020, and became a date during the pandemic as the world hungered for new content. And now the story of the 2022 NBA champion Warriors is being told in a similar way.

“Our goal is to give fans a sufficiently individual look at some of their individual stories about the team, but as a whole tell the story of the team’s journey,” said Cocoros. “So it’s like two parallel stories. There is the ongoing journey of the warriors to win the title. But then there are these individual chapters: Let’s look back at how Klay got back on the pitch; This is Andrew Wiggins, a new player on the team, what is his role? Steph broke the 3 point record while we were there in New York. How do we weave that into the storyline?”

The first episode looks back on the devastating end of the 2019 NBA Finals for the Warriors and the series of setbacks they endured over the following two seasons as the team returns to open training camp in 2022 with a sense of renewed hope and purpose.

The second episode not only covers the first 20 games of the season and recaps Golden State’s unexpectedly hot start, but also focuses on Draymond Green’s game and how his energy is just as crucial to Golden State’s success as it is every 3-point jump by Curry and Thompson.

Future episodes will focus on Curry’s pursuit of Ray Allen’s record for most 3-pointers in NBA history; Klay Thompson’s 941-day trip back to court after a laborious recovery from both a cruciate ligament rupture and a torn Achilles tendon; the Warriors’ return to the playoffs, starting with Curry, who came off the bench as the big three played just 11 minutes together all season; the return of the Warriors to the NBA Finals stage; and finally, how they overcame a 2-1 deficit to defeat the Boston Celtics and win their fourth title in eight seasons.

“I think fans are going to have an incredible viewing experience because we broke it up,” Cocoros said. “That was also the biggest challenge, because where do you end an episode? Where do you stop and where do you start? We tried to make sure there were cliffhangers at the end of every episode for no other reason, but that’s how her season went.”

Just as Thompson returned to court in January, Green was protractedly down with an injury; Just as Green was returning in March, Curry suffered an injury that kept him out until the playoffs. “There were these natural obstacles that the team had to overcome and fit perfectly into each episode. So I hope each episode makes you want to come back for the next one to see how it pans out,” Cocoros said.

The Warriors opened the doors for NBA Entertainment’s cameras, mics and producers throughout the season to document the team as it attempted to return to the championship standard established over the past decade.

“You can’t make a story like this without two key factors: an incredible archive from NBA Entertainment, which we obviously had because the team had won four titles in the last seven years; and the collaboration of the team,” said Cocoros. “I can’t stress enough that this only works if the Warriors give us access throughout the season like they did to document the journey. So not only did they play a big part in winning the title, but they also allowed us to have access to the team to tell the story.”

Not only did the Warriors sit down for interviews after winning the title to look back on the past nine months and the journey from training camp to the championship, but they also let cameras record the journey in real time throughout the season.

As NBA Entertainment went behind-the-scenes with the Warriors in December, February and May, there were many question marks over their chances of winning the title, and the cameras and mics were able to authentically capture those moments in the moment rather than through the pink championship glasses after the trophy has been raised and the champagne has dried.

Not only are fans treated to incredible access this championship season — backstage with Curry at Madison Square Garden as he broke the 3-point record, on the boat with Captain Klay as he talks about his connection to the water, the serves as therapy during his long comeback to court; Draymond talks about how his kids motivate him to keep doing his best – there are also great recaps that leverage the NBA’s rich wealth of content.

We don’t just see Curries 2,974th Career 3-pointers to break Allen’s record, but we also rewind to Curry’s first 3-pointer on October 30, 2009 when he was a baby-faced freshman from Davidson, long before he changed the way the game of basketball was played today and for future generations.

This goes back to adopting the new docuseries format and using each episode to not only stay on the chronological timeline of the season, but to go back in time to highlight an individual player’s timeline and show where they started and where they started how he got to this moment is the championship season.

Fans will be guided through this remarkable story by Warriors veteran guard/forward Andre Iguodala, who serves as narrator in Gold Blooded. Iguodala has been part of the Golden State’s first three titles in this current run – winning Finals MVP in 2015 and making major contributions in both 2017 and 2018. However, Iguodala was traded following Golden State’s loss to Toronto in the 2019 Finals. After spending two seasons with the Miami Heat, Iguodala returned to the Warriors for the 2021-22 season.

The idea of ​​having Iguodala as the narrator came to Cocoros while he was sitting in the arena watching the Warriors take on the Celtics in the NBA Finals.

“It struck me that while he wasn’t playing as much, he was just as committed if not more committed on the bench,” Cocoros said. “I noticed that every time there was a time-out, he grabbed one of the young lads – it didn’t matter [Jordan] Poole or Wiggins or [Jonathan] Kuminga – and really, really motivating and training them.

“I thought there were other ways to contribute to a team than just points, rebounds and assists on the floor. And I said here’s a guy who came back, probably because he wanted one last run, he had no idea what he was getting himself into. And here he is in The Finals, opening up completely to the younger guys who are having experiences for the first time. And I said if they win he would make a great storyteller.”

Cocoros’ instinct was right as Iguodala shines as the docuseries narrator, offering his unique perspective on history and guiding fans through the ups and downs of not just this season but this entire Warriors championship window.

Creating a docuseries around an event where the series’ target audience already knows how the story ends is a unique challenge. It’s similar to watching Titanic and knowing that the ship will end up sinking before you hit play. Or hear the Aaron Burr character close the opening song of “Hamilton” and announce that he’s the one who ends up shooting Hamilton. The drama isn’t about the end result, it’s about the journey to work toward that end result.

“Our openness to the show is Steph Curry telling you it’s title number four, we’re not hiding it, the first thing you see is the Warriors win,” Cocoros said. “Now let’s go back seven episodes and tell you how we got here.”

Every championship season has its trials, tribulations, and ultimately triumphs. With Gold Blooded, fans can retell each of those moments in more detail than ever before.

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