NEW YORK – You could call Spike Lee the basketball auteur.
No other filmmaker has sought to accurately portray basketball as much as Lee has. He cast Ray Allen in 1998′s “He Got Game” and shot some of the most famous Michael Jordan commercials. He’s also making a documentary for the National Basketball Association about Jordan’s last two seasons.
Lee’s current round ball film is “Kobe Doin’ Work,” a documentary of one game in the life of Kobe Bryant. Inspired by the 2006 soccer film “Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait,” Lee used 30 cameras to capture Bryant’s every move in a game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the San Antonio Spurs on April 13, 2008.
Bryant later recorded a commentary for the film, describing his thought process behind every shot, every screen, every pass. As it happened, Bryant laid down the commentary just hours after scoring 61 against Lee’s beloved New York Knicks in February.
The film, which is scored by Bruce Hornsby, will air 8 p.m. EDT May 16 on ESPN.
Lee recently sat down with The Associated Press.
Question: A lot of people don’t like Bryant. Will they want to spend 90 minutes with him?
Answer: Whether you love him or hate him, I think if you know the game of basketball, you have to respect what he does on the court. I realize he has a lot of haters, but I’m not one of them.
There’s a tradition of some unrealistic basketball action in films like “Teen Wolf.”
Here’s the thing. You can get away in baseball using actors. Basketball is hard. How many times have you seen a basketball film where … you see the actor shoot – cut! – and the next shot is the basket with the ball going in? Hate that.
You can’t have cameras on the court …
So what’s the hardest thing about capturing the game?
What we tried to do – and I think we were successful – just try as much as possible to show how the game looks to the players as they play it. And it’s not just how it looks, it’s how it sounds.
A love for basketball certainly comes across, both from Bryant and you.
What you learn from this is that when people love what they do, it’s not like a job anymore. Then it becomes a joyful act – whatever that job is. The way he feels about basketball is the way I feel about being a filmmaker.