A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Shows what life as an NBA star is like, including the pressure to financially support friends and family, the high rate of fraud amongst players' financial advisers, the prevalence of mental health issues amongst the athletes, the pressures on Black athletes in particular in the media, and what happens after their careers as players end.
While negative aspects of the NBA life (consumerism, womanizing, drinking, etc.) are sometimes portrayed in an aspirational light, most episodes also cover a number of positive life lessons. These include the importance of hard work, perseverance, overcoming adversity, staying humble, having a high emotional IQ, being financially literate, taking constructive criticism well, and more.
Positive Role Models
Players open up about being scared, vulnerable, depressed, anxious, and angry, as well as about seeking out therapy. Many examples are given of athletes who worked extremely hard to accomplish their goals. Examples are also given of how players that didn't have successful NBA careers used the lessons they learned from basketball to pivot and achieve new goals.
A large majority of the players interviewed are Black. There is thoughtful discussion about the media's treatment of Black athletes and how often predominantly White money managers take advantage of their lack of financial literacy. The severe under-representation of Black sports reporters is also addressed.
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Violence & Scariness
Mentions of parental abuse, bullying, gang violence, player altercations with fans, suicidal ideation, and hateful social media comments.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
References to strippers, buying hookers, pimps, and contracting AIDS from having lots of sex. A man laughs about sleeping with women who are "out of his league" because he's part of an NBA player's entourage. Women are talked about as gold diggers, and groupies are defined as woman who are waiting to have sex with NBA players. Sex is referred to in a number of crude ways including "smashing." Strippers are shown but no sensitive body parts are revealed with the exception of butt cheeks. The majority of this content takes place during episode 7, "The Good Life."
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Repeated use of "f--k," "s--t," "ass", "bitch," "damn," etc. in each episode.
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Products & Purchases
Having a lot of money and material goods is framed in an aspirational light. Players talk about buying mansions, diamonds, private jets, bottles of Moet and Ace of Spades, Rolls Royces, Mercedes, Bentleys, Masaratis, Maybachs, McLarens, Rafes, Lamborghinis, Bugattis, Rolexes, and high fashion brands including Gucci and Louis Vuitton. One player talks about having an ATM installed in his house. A story is told about an NBA superstar carrying around a $9 million check in his wallet because he claimed he was so wealthy he didn't need to cash it. The majority of this content is in episode 7, "The Good Life." People looking to take advantage of players and asking for money is also discussed in the series, as is the "survivors guilt" that comes from being the only one of your friends and family to make a lot of money.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The use of recreational drugs such as marijuana and molly are discussed, as is partying and binge drinking. Some of the stories are cautionary tales, but others are told as funny. One player says doing drugs and drinking before every game got him 13 years in the NBA and concludes by saying "not bad." Another player talks about challenging his friends to undertake 30 consecutive nights of drinking. He makes it 22 nights before getting alcohol poisoning at the ESPY Awards. He laughs about it and says he "almost pulled it off." The majority of this content is in episode 7, "The Good Life."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Basketball and Other Things is a documentary series that highlights the life lessons learned by NBA players through their hard work and perseverance, while also acknowledging the darker side of their fame and success. A large majority of the players interviewed are Black and there is thoughtful discussion about how race influences their finances and portrayals in the media. The severe under-representation of Black sports reporters is also addressed. There are mentions of parental abuse, bullying, gang violence, player altercations with fans, suicidal ideation, and hateful social media comments. Players open up about being scared, vulnerable, depressed, anxious, and angry, as well as about seeking out therapy. There's repeated use of language like "f--k," "s--t," "ass," "bitch," "damn," etc. in each episode. Most episodes cover a number of positive life lessons; in contrast, episode 7, "The Good Life," stands out for its emphasis of consumerism (buying mansions, diamonds, private jets, etc.), womanizing, drug use, and binge drinking in a mostly aspirational light. Women are talked about as gold diggers, and groupies are defined as woman who are waiting to have sex with NBA players. Sex is referred to in a number of crude ways. Strippers' butt cheeks are shown.
Is It Any Good?
An array of interviews from and about big-named stars, cleverly spliced with animated clips illustrating the incredible tales, makes this series compulsively watchable for older teens and adults alike. Through topical and timely episodes on subjects like how to level up, the price of success, and what happens when the hype turns bad, Basketball and Other Things addresses all that a viewer would expect and then some. The first-hand accounts give refreshingly honest takes on an array of subjects including determination, depression, anxiety, fear of failure, racial inequity, and the survivor's guilt that often comes along with emerging from poverty. The show's subjects also don't shy away from lessons that can only come from defeat; several of whom went on to phenomenal success in other fields after failing to make it in the NBA. A fair warning, though, don't mistake this for a glossy inspirational series. The attempt here is to paint a true, if not always pretty, picture of the NBA life. Tales of consumerism, womanizing, drug use, and binge drinking are sometimes conveyed in a humorous light, especially in episode 7, "The Good Life". This isn't a series to suggest your teens consume on their own. Sitting down and watching together, though, you just might stumble on some compelling conversations while being treated to a whole host of memorable stories about some of history's biggest basketball stars.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.