At the 2008 men’s basketball gold medal game in Beijing — a thrilling clash between a superstar-studded US team and reigning world champions Spain — there was a moment too late when Dwyane Wade swerved the ball past a defender and came close to his feet stays on the paint. Wade then kicks the ball to Kobe Bryant, open and just past the three-point line.
“I found him on the other side of the court, he jabbed, lifted and hit a three. In that moment, we realized it was over,” Wade recalled Thursday night while walking the red carpet for the Netflix documentary The Redeem Team in front of Netflix’s Tudum Theater in Hollywood. He knows the piece well because it’s one of his favorites from the game, one that ended with gold medals around the necks of Wade, Bryant, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Jason Kidd, Dwight Howard, Deron Williams, Chris Bosh . Carlos Boozer, Tayshaun Prince and Michael Redd with a score of 118-107.
It’s also a moment in the new Netflix film, directed by Jon Weinbach, that chronicles the rise, fall and redemption of the US men’s basketball team on the Olympic stage. It includes a host of new interviews with the team and some never-before-seen footage of the late Bryant with his wife Vanessa and their daughters, including Gianna Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash with her father on Jan. 26, 2020.
Wade, an executive producer on the document, showed up at the premiere along with Weinbach redeem team Insiders like Frank Marshall, Mike Tollin, Diego Hurtado De Mendoza, Philip Byron, Greg Groggel, Mark Parkman, Jonathan Vogler and others. In addition to his favorite piece, Wade shared what it meant to him to win gold and hug with Bryant during the gold medal ceremony.
“2008 was a very important time for Kobe in his personal life and a very important time for me as I rebuilt and worked to get my name back after recovering from an injury,” said Wade, walking the carpet with his wife Gabrielle Union. “It was special to stand side by side with one of my favorite players and someone who has become like a brother to me during this time. We could cross our arms and just look at each other and be dizzy like kids. Take out Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade, we were just two kids who love to play basketball. To have had the chance to do it on one of the biggest stages in the world was amazing.”
For Weinbach, searching through the footage was “emotional.”
“I grew up in LA as a Laker fan. I’m two years older than Kobe and I have two boys,” he explained. “And as a Laker fan, I gained a new appreciation for Kobe during those Olympics because when the chips were down and they really needed a bucket, it was Kobe who turned it on. I wanted that story to be told.”
Weinbach said they began drafting the document before Bryant’s death, and after the tragedy “it added another layer of responsibility.”
Marshall also felt the weight. “One of the reasons I signed up for it was that we got access to the Olympic archives,” he explained of the deal with the International Olympic Committee, which gave access to previously unavailable material or footage, the licensing of which ” was too expensive”. “I hadn’t seen any of this footage that they shot between Athens and Beijing in those four years. That’s what I love about documents, the discovery process, as opposed to my job where I know exactly what I’m doing every moment of the day. Finding footage like Kobe’s birthday was such a great celebration and amazing things to weave into the story.”
They did so with the blessing of Bryant’s family: “We work with the family on almost everything we’ve done for this particular doctor. We are very sensitive to everyone we have on these documents and to me we know that as long as it happened and it’s real we know it’s right. But we also want to respect the feelings of Kobe’s family.”
redeem team begins streaming on Netflix on October 7th.