Best Shot

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
Best Shot TV Poster Image
Honest documentary about mentoring; difficult social issues.

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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

With support, it's possible to move beyond difficult circumstances, make good choices, and find a way to live a better life. Social issues like absentee parents, juvenile delinquency, and poverty discussed. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Williams, CG, and others try to help young players stay on track and finish school so they can go to college. Friends and relatives of players try to protect and encourage them, but also pressure them to succeed so that they can make money and help them. 

Violence

Kids end up incarcerated; people talk about former players and their family members' violent deaths. Jay Williams shows his injuries, and is often in pain. Players are injured during games. 

Sex

Cheerleaders wear outfits showing their belly; players sometimes shown not wearing shirts. 

Language

"Damn," "hell," "crap," "ass," "s--t." Some language, like the "N" word, is muted in the versions streamed for free. 

Consumerism

Logos for brands like Adidas and Beats are visible, but not in a commercial context. The NBA logo and various team franchises are featured. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drug use and dealing is discussed. Jay Williams uses CBD oil to help him manage pain. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the YouTube Premium documentary series Best Shot features former NBA player and ESPN analyst Jay Williams mentoring a Newark, N.J., high school basketball team. There's some cursing, but free episodes mute out a few of the stronger words. The social issues associated with living in the inner city are discussed, including fighting, drugs, homelessness, poverty, and incarceration, and some violent moments are shown. The use of CBD oil is shown (on an adult). Overall, it sends a very positive message about being resilient and making a commitment to work toward goals. 

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What's the story?

Co-produced by basketball legend LeBron James, BEST SHOT is an eight-part YouTube Premium documentary series about a former NBA star whose career-ending accident led him back to the basketball court in a different way. In 2002, Jay Williams was the Chicago Bulls' youngest star, and was looking forward to a successful NBA career. But when a motorcycle accident ended his career a year later, Williams found himself trying to figure out a new direction in his life. Now the ESPN analyst mentors the Blue Devils, Newark Central High School's basketball team, which is headed up by Shawn "OG" McCray. While they and school principal Sharnee Brown want the young men to win games, they are also committed to teaching them that despite all the day-to-day hardships they face living in the inner city of New Jersey, they have the resilience to keep moving forward and find a way out of their difficult lives.  

Is it any good?

This documentary series offers an honest look into the lives of young black inner-city high school basketball players who have the odds stacked against them. Jay Williams, along with the team's coach, works hard to keep the teens focused on their studies and playing the game, all the while reminding them that playing the game well is their best shot at getting an education and improving their lives. But while you see the adults' affection and concern for the students, you can also appreciate their sense of frustration when the players don't meet expectations, or when they fall prey to the pressures imposed by absentee parents, street violence, drug gangs, and poverty.

There are no guaranteed success stories here. Some viewers may be disturbed by the amount of pressure that parents, relatives, and friends place on these teens to become professional ball players in order to financially help them. Nonetheless, Best Shot's overall messages are good ones. It constantly reinforces the idea that it is important to look beyond the difficulties one faces in life by committing yourself to a goal that can lead to something positive. It also underscores the role of mentors in this process. People who aren't basketball fans may find Best Shot a little slow, but folks who enjoy the game will find it interesting, if not inspiring. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about some of the social issues discussed throughout Best Shot. How can children succeed when they are dealing firsthand with things like street violence, hunger, and homelessness?

  • What are some of the stereotypes about people living in inner cities? Does this documentary reinforce them or challenge them?

  • Do you have a mentor in your life? What kinds of things has your mentor taught you? What kind of mentor can you be to other people in your life? 

TV details

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