NBA

Ranking the LeBron James Seasons Perfect for a ‘Last Dance’ Style Series

If ESPN’s The Last Dance can provide basketball fans with a raw, unfiltered, and even emotional look at one of Michael Jordan’s best seasons, someone should consider doing the same for LeBron James.

Although The Last Dance is partly successful from what was filmed at the time, the later interviews have added to making the documentary so compelling.

Which of LeBron James’ seasons should be profiled in documentary similar to The Last Dance? Let’s take a look.

Most of James’ seasons in Cleveland wouldn’t work here

The most successful movies have a three-act structure. The beginning sets everything into motion. The middle features a lowest point, or at least the beginning of the end.

The final third is when the characters work against the problem and we learn their fate. For every Death Star destroyed or character that fell to their doom, there is a Thanos snap.

LeBron James’ two stints in Cleveland didn’t feature a three-act structure. Most barely included two-act structures.

Almost every one of LeBron’s Cleveland seasons was the same: he almost singlehandedly carried unimpressive teams deep into the NBA Playoffs.

The Last Dance is so riveting because of the characters not named LeBron James. The likes of Mo Williams or Richard Jefferson, while fine players, don’t carry the same intrigue as Dennis Rodman or Scottie Pippen.

LeBron’s ‘Last Dances’ in Cleveland and Miami would be must-see TV

LeBron James' four seasons with the Miami Heat would each be perfect for a 'Last Dance'-like documentary.
LeBron James’ four seasons with the Miami Heat would each be perfect for a ‘Last Dance’-like documentary. | Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

People appreciate how a story ends and how the final chapter was written. Two of LeBron James’ last seasons with a team would be perfect for a documentary.

Cleveland partnered LeBron with Shaquille O’Neal before the 2009-10 season. It would be interesting to look back at the duo, not to mention the buildup to LeBron James’ free agency debut.

The Miami Heat’s 2013-14 season is often forgotten. Another look at the Big Three that focused on the buildup to James’ departure could be terrific.

Even the controversial J.R Smith couldn’t save a documentary on James’ second final season in Cleveland; the 2017-18 campaign.

These LeBron James seasons shouldn’t be considered ‘Last Dance’ style documentary

17. 2004-05: LeBron James made his first All-Star Game and the Cavaliers narrowly missed the playoffs.
16. 2017-18: LeBron did the heavy lifting on an aging Cavaliers team. Cleveland lost to Golden State in the finals.
15. 2016-17: See No. 16, but add Kyrie Irving to the mix.
14. 2005-06: Cleveland finally made the playoffs with LeBron James.
13. 2008-09: LeBron and Mo Williams nearly took Cleveland to the NBA Finals. This was another year that ended in disappointment.
12. 2018-19: LeBron James’ first season with the Lakers proved he’s human. James missed time with an injury and the Lakers missed the playoffs.
11. 2014-15: LeBron returned to Cleveland and immediately changed the franchise’s fortunes. Had Cleveland defeated Golden State in the finals, this would be higher.
10. 2007-08: A 23-year-old LeBron James averaged 30 points per game as talks of his free-agent future began. Cleveland nearly upset the Celtics’ ‘Big Three.’
9. 2003-04: Cleveland only went 35-47 in LeBron’s first season. But his ‘first dance’ carries serious intrigue.

These are the perfect seasons for a documentary on LeBron James

8. 2006-07: The Cavaliers team worthy of memes. LeBron James carried an unimpressive Cleveland team to the NBA Finals.
7. 2013-14: LeBron’s brief but riveting stint in Miami ends with an NBA Finals loss to San Antonio.
6. 2015-16: LeBron and the Cavaliers end Cleveland’s title drought. This would be at the top for most players.
5. 2011-12: King James finally won the NBA Finals. That is all.
4. 2019-20: LeBron regained his MVP form and the Lakers were on pace to make the NBA Finals. Then, the Coronavirus hit.
3. 2010-11: The Big Three are together at last. An inside story on the partnership’s first year would be terrific.
2. 2009-10: The end arrived for LeBron James in Cleveland. An in-depth documentary on his final year before The Decision’ is needed.
1. 2012-13: LeBron and the Heat dominated the NBA in the regular season. That year’s NBA Finals, as well as a time capsule look back at the end of Kobe and the rise of Stephen Curry, make this the ideal choice.