Shut Up and Dribble season 1 finale recap: 103


Shut Up and Dribble has now gone through decades of NBA history. The third and final episode of the docu-series brings everything back to the present.

This episode of Shut Up and Dribble starts with the infamous Malice in the Palace game between the Detroit Pistons and the Indiana Pacers. Between clips of the game, the foul on Ron Artest and Pacers players going after fans, Stephen Jackson (who was on that Pacers team) offers commentary.

To take a closer look at the events of that game, the episode goes into a detailed look at Ron Artest’s style of play. (Artest is now known as Metta World Peace.) This includes bits of the interview with Metta World Peace himself and talk about his association with hip-hop. More clips from the incident show players going after fans in the Palace stands.

Many people, including then-NBA commissioner David Stern, express the disbelief they felt when they saw what happened in Detroit that night. Kenny Smith explains that, when Artest was hit with the beer thrown by a fan, Artest went back to being the kid who grew up in the projects.

AUBURN HILLS, MI – JUNE 1: Ron Artest #23 of the Indiana Pacers shoots against Tayshaun Prince #22 of the Detroit Pistons in Game six of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2004 NBA Playoffs at The Palace of Auburn Hills on June 1, 2004 in Auburn Hills, Michigan. The Pistons won 69-65 and won the series 4-2. (Photo by Tom Pidgeon/Getty Images)

Kicking off the episode’s examination of the media coverage of the events is Stern remember how talk radio called the players “thugs” and “punks.” This is combined with a clip of Rush Limbaugh telling listeners to start calling NBA teams “gangs.” Clip after clip show television commentators expressing how abhorrent they feel the behavior in the NBA had become.

This leads into Stern handing out suspensions to players involved in the brawl.

In one of the most interesting moments of Shut Up and Dribble so far, Bob Costas is confronted about his use of the word “thug” when talking about players following the brawl. While he said he wouldn’t use the word today, he also defends its use, saying he wouldn’t use it because people would get the wrong idea—not because it didn’t apply.

As a result of pressure to make changes, the episode shows the NBA’s institution of a dress code. Jackson calls it a shot at black culture. It was used to keep players from wearing durags, chains and other items associated with the hip-hop culture the NBA had loved a decade earlier.

LOS ANGELES, CA – FEBRUARY 18: (L-R) Stephen Curry, Kyle Lowry and DeMar Derozan arrive to the NBA All-Star Game 2018 at Staples Center on February 18, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

From this offers the first look at LeBron James’ career. The episode of Shut Up and Dribble shows how the incoming generation of players embraced the dress code and took things to another level.

That’s just a brief stop because the real focus is James. It starts with highlights of him in high school. Looking at how popular James was before he was even drafted, Jay-Z talks about watching James play in the McDonald’s All American game. The point is really driven home by an interview with 16-year-old James, where the reporter asks what James’ long-term goals are.

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James recalls how people made money off his play in high school, including moving his games to Ohio State’s arena and people selling t-shirts with his face on it.

Next is James’ manager mentioning the goal for James to build a brand as Michael Jordan did, plus clips from James being drafted and matching up against Kobe Bryant and the Lakers. The opportunities James had that others before him didn’t is used as a transition to talk about Barak Obama’s run to the Presidency.

James talks about how much Obama’s win meant for him and the African American community, but also the fear he felt that someone might try to hurt Obama. But the episode also shows clips of many NBA stars offering their congratulations to Obama (who is a big basketball fan) after his win.

Contrasting with the excitement of NBA players are clips from Fox News. This culminates with clips of Donald Trump’s incessant need to see Obama’s birth certificate.

Back to James’ career, he hadn’t won a championship and, after a loss to the Celtics in the playoffs, questions of whether his career in Cleveland was over. Commentary and clips shift to the building interest in and debate about where James would end up in free agency. This leads to James’ television event: The Decision.

Present day James admits that things felt weird leading up to him sitting on stage for The Decision. After the announcement, clips of upset fan reactions are shown.

(The series doesn’t touch on it, but it’s interesting to watch this segment and think about how there are whole press conferences now just to sit top high school players in front of three college hats and have them put one on to announce where they’ll be going to school.)

This transitions to the boos James heard on his first visit to Cleveland as a Miami Heat player. James touches on how doing The Decision allowed others to create a narrative about him, which he said was the worst thing he could have done.

The episode quickly flips through the formation of Miami’s Big 3 and back to back Heat championships.

LOS ANGELES, CA – JANUARY 20: Activist marchers carry a banner with a picture of slain teenager Trayvon Martin at the 29th annual Kingdom Day Parade on January 20, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. The Kingdom Day Parade honors the memory of African-American civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and coincides with Martin Luther King Day. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

It then moves on to the tragedy surrounding Trayvon Martin’s murder. Included are moments of James recalling fear for his sons after the incident and an Obama press conference discussing everyday racism experienced by black people.

Cut to Fox News saying Martin’s hoodie was as much responsible as the shooter, George Zimmerman.

This leads to the reaction from Miami Heat players, including them posting a photo of the team wearing hoodies. Also shown is Rep. Bobby Rush wearing a hoodie on the floor of Congress while the speaker pounds his gavel demanding he stop.

After scenes of protests after Zimmerman’s acquittal, the series shows the murder of Eric Garner and the subsequent decision by NBA players to wear his final words, “I can’t breathe,” on t-shirts.

Moving back into the NBA itself, the episode turns its attention to Donald Sterling and the tape of his racist comments released by TMZ. The result was the Clippers players deciding to wear their warmup shirts inside out, so the Clippers name was hidden, at a playoff game in Oakland. Things were only made worse by Sterling, as shown in his interview clips with Anderson Cooper.

Next is a clip of NBA commissioner Adam Silver banning Sterling from the NBA.

Returning to James’ career, the next segment shows him returning to Cleveland to play for the Cavaliers again. James talks about what the decision to go back and try to win a championship meant to him after growing up in Akron and watching struggling Cleveland teams. Of course, they then show James winning Cleveland’s first NBA championship.

Transitioning to the ESPY Awards, the episode shows clips of Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James opening the ceremony with a call for an end to the injustice felt by black people in America. It was also a call to action for athletes to work to create change.

LOS ANGELES, CA – JULY 13: (L-R) NBA players Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James speak onstage during the 2016 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

WNBA players are shown wearing t-shirts and speaking at press conferences calling for change. The tolerance of these players and NBA players speaking out is contrasted with the intolerance shown in the NFL.

Colin Kaepernick is shown in front of his locker explaining exactly why he decided to protest during the National Anthem. News analysts criticizing his protest and one fan burning Kaepernick’s jersey while the Anthem plays are shown. As Costas points out, it was people like Trump who injected politics into sports way more than Kaepernick’s decision did.

This moves into a look at Trump and his rhetoric toward and about people of color. Following is a brief look at his Presidential election win before showing two days later, when the Cavaliers visited the Obama White House.

The episode quickly jumps to Trump entering the White House and then to the Charlottesville riots. This includes the brutal footage of a car plowing into a group of protesters. After showing Trump’s comments that there was hatred on “both sides,” James explains how Trump’s rhetoric allows for and emboldens white nationalists in America. James, thinking of his children, says he can’t allow this to happen.

Transitioning to just before the 2017 NBA finals, news clips are shown from someone painting the n-word on James’ home in Los Angeles. In a press conference, James says that fame and riches can’t change how tough it is to be black in America.

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Coming full circle from where Shut Up and Dribble kicked off, Golden State is shown winning their championship in 2017 followed by the decision to not go to the White House. The final episode wraps up by again showing the fallout from Golden State’s decision, including the President’s reaction and Laura Ingraham’s “shut up and dribble” comments.

Over clips of all the black players throughout history who spoke up, different interviewees from throughout the series offer their final comments on why you shouldn’t tell a black athlete to “shut up and dribble.”

What are your thoughts on Shut Up and Dribble? Did you learn anything you didn’t expect to? Let us know in the comments.