- Sam Alipour
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While the Heat rev up for a defense of their NBA title, two documentaries about the formation of Miami’s Big Three appear to be stuck at the starting line, more than two years after their inception.
But there’s hope for both films: The dueling docs are the brainchildren of two members of the Heat’s famed trio, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, close friends who may be considering an off-court partnership.
“If Chris and I can combine forces,” Wade says, “we might have something.”
Well, that philosophy didn’t work out too badly on the hardwood -- so, yeah, maybe they ought to look into that.
Here’s the background: budding filmmakers Bosh and Wade have in their possession a veritable treasure chest of footage from the summer of 2010, back when both players were on the open market and pondering their basketball futures. Independently of each other, the free agents pegged film crews to document NBA teams' courtship of the superstars as well as the intimate details of two distinct decision-making processes that would eventually lead the men to set up shop in South Beach with LeBron James.
Bosh and Wade’s goal, at the time, was to develop the footage into a documentary or docu-series in the vein of HBO’s “24/7.” But then came the anti-Heat heat -- first, for James’ much-derided one-hour TV special, “The Decision”; then for what many pundits felt was their premature self-coronation as a league powerhouse; and, finally, for their on-court stumble, a loss to the Mavericks in the 2011 NBA Finals.
That backlash, along with the demands of their day jobs, might be why the teammates elected to temporarily shelve their documentaries. But that was then. Today, Miami sits atop the NBA mountain. Demand for all things Heat has never been higher. Will their shooting guard and power forward seize on their team’s rising Q score and ride its title win into theaters?
“Yeah, I thought about that, but now is not the time. Maybe in the near future,” Bosh says. “I don’t want to rush it. I want to tell the real story, and I have to figure out how I want to say it as a storyteller. It’s a longer process than what I thought but I really started doing this just for the love of the art. Now I’m pretty much trying to figure out what to do with what I have.”
That’s right -- Bosh speaks like a tortured artist now. And he might be a step ahead of Wade in the filmmaking process. When his schedule permits, Bosh reviews and catalogs his footage, which includes private conversations with Wade, James and Heat team president Pat Riley. Throughout production, the industrious baller leaned on established Hollywood veterans for advice. Among the powerbrokers on Bosh’s speed-dial: "Entourage" creator Doug Ellin, the man who essentially gifted Bosh the idea for the doc in the first place.
“When he came on the show (that summer), we discussed it and I told him, ‘I think the demand would be huge for something like this,’” Ellin recounts. “It’s like 'Hard Knocks,' but with superstars. You have Chris and Dwyane, both of whom are also great on camera, and whatever [footage] they can get of LeBron, plus the free agency process -- people would kill to see that. That’s why ‘Moneyball’ was so fascinating: the behind-the-scenes stuff with the GM. To watch it from their perspective, too, would be incredible. I’m dying to see that.”
In his recent conversations with Hollywood-types, Bosh most often hears one type of feedback.
“They ask, ‘How many hours of footage do you have?’ I tell them I have about 90, and then they say, ‘That’s it?’” Bosh relays with a hearty laugh. “Apparently, that’s not a lot of footage.”
Enter one Dwyane Wade, perhaps?
Wade, too, filmed the entirety of his journey, from longtime face of the Heat franchise to free agency -- several teams, including his hometown squad, the Chicago Bulls, wooed the now eight-time All-Star -- to his decision to re-sign with Miami. And attaining the footage was no easy task: The players often engaged in an uneasy dance with front-office suitors who privately groaned when the objects of their affection attempted to document the courtship. Some teams asked that they hit the stop button prior to their official presentations.
“I haven’t done anything with it, yet,” Wade says, “but I have a lot of good, raw footage of the process -- what I was going through, personally, what I was dealing with in Chicago, things like that. I have so much footage, I don’t even know what’s on it, to be honest.”
Knowing what you have in the can is a solid first step. A logical second: Give your buddy a shout.
“I’d have to see what they’ve got, but it does make sense for Chris and Dwyane to join forces and show two perspectives,” Ellin says. “But, hey, two Alexander the Great films came out at the same time. I know I’d see both documentaries.”
Timing does appear to be in Bosh and Wade’s favor. With their title win, the team formerly known as the NBA’s Bad Guys won back fans and media alike. Bookkeepers, too, dig them: Vegas has the defending champs as the odds-on favorites coming into the season. Nipping on Miami’s heels, though, are a young but one-year-wiser Thunder squad and the veteran Lakers, who’ve managed to form something of a Big Four after luring Dwight Howard and Steve Nash to play with Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol in Los Angeles. That may be why one executive at a major studio tells Blitz that, in a perfect world, the Heat films would hit theaters, oh, yesterday.
“What if this group doesn’t win another championship? Or what if something happens to one of them, like an injury?” offers the suit. “Holding onto that documentary, if that’s what they’re doing -- it’s risky.”
While Ellin doesn’t feel that the rookie filmmakers are facing a ticking clock, he, too, suggests that the time is right for such a film.
“Miami turned everybody around with that title, everybody who was giving these players a hard time,” he says. “Now that they’ve put together a championship team and have a much bigger product, everybody would want to look at how that was done. I’d watch that now, and I’d watch the sequel years from now after they’ve won five titles.”
Blitz’s vote: Keep your eyes on the leather orb, boys, but in the meantime form a new Big Three with Ellin, dish your footage to the veteran and let the guy who gave us “Entourage” figure it out.
Would Ellin, who’s also one of Hollywood’s most sought-after feature-film writers, be open to taking an active role in a Bosh-Wade super-doc?
“Absolutely,” Ellin replies, and in less than four nanoseconds. “I told Chris from the start, if there’s a need, if he ever wants anything from me, I’m happy to help.”
But beware, Heat: The New Yorker is a diehard, and jilted, Knicks fan.
“I really thought LeBron and Chris would be Knicks,” Ellin says. “When they signed with Miami, those were two of the worst sports days of my life. It was devastating. But they accomplished what they set out to do and I’m happy for them.”
Spoken like a true friend -- and, we can only hope, a future partner.