Lakers birth of a dynasty
Photo Credit: business insider

Lakers Birth of a Dynasty Documentary Also Is A Must See


With sports being put on hold due to the coronavirus, there is not a lot going on right now. So everyone in the sports world is currently glued to their television screens every Sunday watching “The Last Dance” on ESPN. It seems to be what everyone is talking about, it would be the water cooler topic at work if things were normal.


The 10-part documentary series following Michael Jordan and the rest of the Chicago Bulls as they went on to complete their second three-peat in 1998 has been the biggest thing in sports for the past two weeks. This week’s episodes will feature Jordan being part of the 1992 USA Olympics Dream Team and participating in the 1998 NBA All-Star Game, where he happens to have several interactions with a young second-year player named Kobe Bryant.


birth of a dynasty lakers documentary
Photo Credit: Elle

Due to the unfortunate passing of Kobe back in January, this was one of the more memorable episodes of the documentary series. Not only did it feature behind the scenes interactions between Jordan and Bryant, but it also included some new fresh footage of Bryant talking on the subject.

Everyone who has seen Jordan‘s speech at Bryant‘s memorial service knows how much he meant to him; it will be nice to see what else Jordan had to say about the young Bryant in those early interactions. But those scenes will be even more memorable to see after hearing what Bryant had to say about competing with Jordan in those first years of his career, mainly because this may be the last footage we ever see of Bryant.


Well, for those who may not be Los Angeles Lakers fans or do not have access to Spectrum Sportsnet, there was another recently released documentary series that followed the 2000 NBA Champion Lakers

It was a four-part series titled “Birth of a Dynasty,” and it celebrated the 20th anniversary of the opening of the Staples Center and beginning of the memorable Shaq and Kobe three-peat run. The first two episodes premiered in December 2019, a month before Bryant‘s death. The final two episodes premiered four months later in April, making the Bryant commentary all the more special.

Part one centered around the Lakers hiring Phil Jackson to be the new head coach, one year removed from being dismissed as head coach of the Chicago Bulls after completing their three-peat in 1998 (see the correlation). The signing was monumental as Jerry West knew this would be the right man to get the Lakers back to their winning ways, having not won a championship since 1988. Shaquille O’Neal believed in Jackson because he was a proven winner coming off his six championships with Chicago. Bryant took it as a golden opportunity to be able to play for the very same man that coached his idol, Michael Jordan.

They also covered the grand opening of the at the time brand new arena Staples Center, which happened to be right in the center of Downtown LA. The move was not the most pleasant news to the players and staff who did not look forward to dealing with the traffic. Playing in the new arena meant they were leaving the Fabulous Forum in Inglewood, the iconic and legendary home of the Lakers since 1967. 

The Forum was synonymous with the Lakers, and people feared that the team and game experience would not be the same without that “Forum magic.” The team settled into training camp by going back to the fundamentals with Coach Jackson and trying to get used to his odd “zen master” ways. 


birth of a dynasty lakers documentary
Photo Credit: CBSSports

The Lakers played their first preseason games in the new arena, and Bryant broke his hand right before the start of the season. With Kobe forced to watch from the sidelines, he was able to get a better understanding of the Triangle Offense with Tex Winter. He also saw that the team was able to run the offense fluidly through O’Neal, the most dominant force in the league at the time.

Part Two focuses on O’Neal as he commits 100% to Jackson and fully invests in basketball, instead of other various activities like acting and rapping. In return, Jackson promised O’Neal that if he committed, he guaranteed he would become the league MVP. O’Neal then proceeded to have his best season ever and be unstoppable on both sides of the court as he tore up the competition throughout the regular season. Bryant then came back from his injury, playing like a combination of Michael Jordan and Michael Jackson with his top-tier talent and a single glove on his broken hand.

With the new coach, the best one-two punch in the league, and the rest of the team coming to form, the Lakers blew through the regular season as title favorites and sealed home-court advantage for themselves throughout the playoffs. By the end of the regular season, Jackson made good on his deal with the big man as O’Neal won the regular-season MVP award.


Part Three followed the Lakers through their up and down battles through the Western Conference playoffs.


In the first round, they matched up against the Sacramento Kings. At the time, the first round only went up to five games, meaning the first team to three wins won the series. The Kings gave the Lakers all they could handle, taking the series to a fifth and decisive game. This perhaps gave a glimpse into the intense rivalry these two teams would develop, but the Lakers were able to prevail and advance into the next round.

After upsetting the defending champion San Antonio Spurs in the first round, the Phoenix Suns were the next team in the Lakers‘ way. Los Angeles had a much easier time with Phoenix in the second round as they won that series 4-1. The highlight of that series was when Bryant hit a game-winning jumper from the elbow at the end of game two. It was the first of his many clutch moments that we all know Bryant for pulling off.

It was the Portland Trail Blazers who were then waiting for the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals. We all know about the seven-game battle between the two teams that saw the emergence of how special this Lakers team ultimately became. They stormed back from a 15 point deficit in the fourth quarter to win that game and advance to the Finals


birth of a dynasty lakers documentary
Photo Credit: Kim Haggerty Zylius

When people think about that series, they remember that legendary play where Bryant crossed over Scottie Pippen and threw the lob to O’Neal, who slammed it home and sent the Staples Center crowd into a frenzy. That lob shook the building. Everyone had a good feeling that whoever won that series would go on to win the championship, which set the stage for the next episode.

Part Four remembered the Lakers taking down the Indiana Pacers in six games to bring the championship back to Los Angeles. Some people in the organization feared that Larry Bird, who was then the head coach of Indiana, would use his status as an iconic Boston Celtic to bring back some bad memories of that “unlucky” luck of the Irish against Los Angeles like he did in the 1980s.

At one point, Jalen Rose purposely slipped his foot under Bryant‘s to make him roll his ankle, forcing him to miss a game. To Rose‘s dismay, his plan did not fully succeed because Bryant came back the very next game and showed the world why he deserved the Jordan comparisons with his clutch late-game heroics. It was all over after that. The Lakers celebrated winning the championship in front of the Los Angeles crowd.


The parade was a spectacle as thousands of people filled up the streets to watch their champion Lakers celebrate. This was way before LA Live and the entertainment capital that we all know now. Back then, the only thing surrounding the Staples Center was plenty of parking lots, which meant plenty of space for people to line up and cheer on the team. The city was united once again, and O’Neal made sure the people heard him by yelling his now-famous, “Can you dig it?” to the spectators.

All of the people interviewed in the documentary took the time to acknowledge how special that team and season was. At the time, it was new and fresh, but it turned out to become the beginning of a glorious dynasty. 


The documentary finished by talking about the late Dr. Jerry Buss and how great of an owner he was before coming to the harsh reality that it has already been 20 years since that memorable season.


It is undetermined when the interviews for the documentary were filmed, but it is clear that the documentary was finished before Bryant‘s death. I’ll warn you that watching Bryant‘s scenes is a bittersweet experience. It was nice to see some new footage of him, but sad to realize that he is no longer with us. I felt like I was looking at a ghost, as I am still in a bit of disbelief that he is dead. I imagine that is how a lot of others will feel when they see him on “The Last Dance” as well.

Between the conclusion of “Birth of a Dynasty” and the premiere ofThe Last Dance,” an independent documentary released on Netflix called LA Originals.” That documentary followed the careers of two Los Angeles icons, photographer (Estevan Oriol) and tattoo artist (Mister Cartoon), who both worked their ways into becoming folk heroes, especially in the Hip-Hop community and Chicano Los Angeles scene. Bryant was also featured briefly in that documentary, which is another great watch. Kobe also received a dedication in ending credits under the “In Loving Memory” section.


birth of a dynasty lakers documentary
Photo Credit: EssentiallySports

It seems that “The Last Dance” has the last known recorded footage of Bryant before his passing, so it may be the last footage we see of him for a very long time. It’s been said that a camera crew followed Bryant around for his final season in 2015-16, the same way Jordan was for what we now know as The Last Dance.” With the untimely passing of Bryant, it remains unknown if and when we will ever see that footage from Bryant‘s farewell season. But I, for one, can ensure that I will be there to see that if that day ever comes.

In the meantime, you can watch “Birth of a Dynasty” if you have access to Spectrum Sportsnet. Although all four episodes are already released, I personally prefer watching the rest of “The Last Dance” before “Birth of a Dynasty” because it will flow so much better chronologically. The Bulls documentary ended in 1998, and the Lakers documentary picks up right where it left off in 1999.





Lakers Birth of a Dynasty Documentary   Lakers Birth of a Dynasty Documentary     Lakers Birth of a Dynasty Documentary

Lakers Birth of a Dynasty Documentary   Lakers Birth of a Dynasty Documentary     Lakers Birth of a Dynasty Documentary

Lakers Birth of a Dynasty Documentary   Lakers Birth of a Dynasty Documentary     Lakers Birth of a Dynasty Documentary    

Lakers Birth of a Dynasty Documentary    Lakers Birth of a Dynasty Documentary  

Twitter: Isaiah_Torres24


Follow The Franchise on social media