Showtime’s three-part documentary Shut Up and Dribble debuts this weekend and the network is in the final stages of generating buzz. To that end, the final trailer for the series dropped over the weekend. Today, Richard Deitsch’s “Media Circus” column at The Athletic features an interview with Shut Up and Dribble director Gotham Chopra.
The documentary focuses on athlete activism in the NBA and the reaction to it. Chopra told Deitsch that it is the second part that is the new phenomenon. “Right now the times we live in are incredibly politicized and very divisive, but it’s not necessarily a new phenomenon. I think the tone of it is to some degree, but this convergence of sports and politics has a rich history and not just in the NBA.”
He also says that while LeBron James, who serves as an executive producer on the project, and Fox News host Laura Ingraham’s reaction to him is the jumping off point for this particular story, Shut Up and Dribble covers the history of activism in sports just as much as it does the current political climate. “Our title leads people to believe this is about the Twitter spats between the White House, prominent NBA players, and Fox News, but this story starts in the 1950s and it’s about Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Oscar Robertson, Isiah Thomas, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, Craig Hodges and many others. There is a rich lineage of players who have sacrificed a lot to get to where the NBA is probably one of the most socially-impactful and relevant sports leagues on the planet.”
Chopra also wanted to look at players who refused to participate in any activist causes. To that end, he reached out to the famously politics-averted Michael Jordan. Not surprisingly, Jordan turned down the opportunity to be interviewed for the series. “I knew that would be virtually impossible and not just because of the narrative around Michael and politics but athletes have their own projects and some of these projects are competitive.”
Another former Fox News punching bag, The Atlantic‘s Jemele Hill serves as the narrator of Shut Up and Dribble. Part one debuts on Saturday night at 10pm. The final two parts will air a week later.