Movies & TV Shows

10 Best Shows Like They Call Me Magic

With the popular HBO series Winning Time telling a fictionalized story of his rise to stardom, Earvin “Magic” Johnson is given a chance to tell his side of the story in They Call Me Magic. Highlighting the triumphs, and tragedies of his fascinating life, the docuseries pulls no punches in showing the real side of the Magic Man.

RELATED: 10 Best TV Shows Like Winning Time 

From acclaimed series like The Last Dance, to ongoing productions like ESPN’s 30 For 30They Call Me Magic is another in a long line of great sports documentary series. For viewers who couldn’t get enough basketball content, there is always more to enjoy after watching They Call Me Magic.

Bad Sport (2021-Present)

Stream On Netflix

Bad Sport Netflix

Sports tell-alls are extremely popular with fans, and it is fascinating to see misunderstood figures get to have their say. Bad Sport focuses each episode on a different moment in sports history that was marred by scandal and crime.

Told from the perspective of the athletes and law enforcement, the series gives serious weight to its subject matter. Although it isn’t the brightest moment for fans, the darker side of their favorite sports often shines a light on problems that plague their respective leagues. Made with the same care that is found in Call Me Magic and what Netflix puts into all of their true-crime series, Bad Sport exists as both a sports docuseries and a crime drama.

Top Class: The Life And Times Of The Sierra Canyon Trailblazers (2021-Present)

Stream On IMDb TV

Members of the Sierra Canyon Trailblazers play basketball on the cover of Top Class

Underdog stories are a dime a dozen in sports, but it is rare that a series focuses so closely on the expected winners. Top Class follows the day-to-day lives of one of the nation’s most exclusive high school basketball programs and chronicles how the star players deal with the added pressure of expectation.

Generally considered one of the best sports documentary series of all time, there is a lot of common humanity to be found in the story. The show illustrates that the added pressure of expected success can often be a more difficult hurdle to overcome than any opponent on the court.

Promiseland (2021-Present)

Stream On Fubo TV

Ja Morant stands on a basketball court from Promiseland

Many sports stories are told in retrospect and recapture moments of glory from a future perspective, but Promiseland was there from the beginning. Similar to Call Me Magic, the series follows NBA player, Ja Morant, from the days before the draft, all the way to him being crowned the NBA Rookie of the Year in 2020. The show is an intimate portrait of the man.

Being a sensational player certainly helped the series be more interesting, but what really makes it shine is the closeness that the viewer feels with Morant. He is raw and emotional throughout and, like heroes in a fiction film, the viewer actively roots for him to succeed in the overwhelming world of the NBA.

Swagger (2021-Present)

Stream On Apple TV+

A basketball player stands on the court preparing to take a shot from Swagger

Partially inspired by the life of NBA star Kevin Durant, Swagger is a fictionalized look at what happens to young basketball players as they rise through the ranks. Following the lives of several players in the AAU circuit, Swagger explores the mental strain caused by the expectation of greatness.

RELATED: 10 Best Reality Shows About Sports 

The show shines because it explores a topic that isn’t often discussed in the sports world. Plenty has been said about professional and college players, but their road to those places isn’t usually explored. While it may seem to highlight the privileges that could come with their position, the show also illustrates that it can be a tremendous burden as well.

The Playbook (2020)

Stream On Netflix

Coach Doc Rivers looks on from the sidelines from The Playbook

Most sports media focuses on the flashy star players or the championship teams that won it all. However, The Playbook turned the camera on one of the most underrated sports figures, the coach. With each episode chronicling a different coach from a different sport, The Playbook was as much about the coaching philosophy as it was about competition.

Each episode features a different figure and they all bring something new to the discussion. Beneath every episode though, is the overarching passion that all of the coaches share for their respective games. While they may all approach things differently, in the end, they are more similar than they are dissimilar.

30 For 30 (2009-Present)

Stream On ESPN +

The ESPN 30 for 30 logo which resembles a ticket stub

With each new season delivering some of the best episodes of the show, ESPN’s ongoing series, 30 For 30, has been one of the most consistent sports docuseries of all time. The show features individual sports documentaries that cover a range of topics from the most popular sports, all the way down to niche communities within the sports fandom.

Many of 30 For 30‘s documentaries shine a light on untold pieces of sports history, while some chronicle some of the biggest moments as well. The reason that the series is so appealing is because it serves up something for everyone. Even non-sports fans can find an episode or two that pique their interest, and that has contributed to its success for so long.

Basketball Or Nothing (2019 – Present)

Stream On Netflix

A basketball player runs past a line of cheerleaders from Basketball or Nothing

With sports documentary series being all the rage, Basketball or Nothing found a way to add another unique addition to the genre. Following the lives of high school basketball players on a reservation in the Navajo nation, the series takes a look at their lives on and off the court.

The indigenous community is woefully underrepresented in the sports world, and Basketball or Nothing attempted to rectify that discrepancy. Aside from being a gripping sports documentary series, it is also a fascinating and sad look at the real-life struggles of many indigenous communities throughout North America.

Last Chance U: Basketball (2021-Present)

Stream On Netflix

Netflix

Like its extremely popular football series Last Chance U, Netflix’s Last Chance U: Basketball tells the story of athletes on the fringes of success. The show follows the life and times of several community college teams as they all strive for some sort of career in their favorite sport.

RELATED: 10 Reality Shows About The Lives Of Athletes 

Many shows feature athletes at the top, but Last Chance U‘s gritty look was refreshing and harrowing as well. Though it is a documentary series, it also features taught drama that rivals even the best sports movies and is just as gripping as any piece of fiction. Viewers find themselves rooting for the subjects in the documentary as they attempt to go against nearly impossible odds.

The Last Dance (2020)

Stream On Netflix

Generally considered one of the best documentaries on Netflix, The Last Dance was an intensive look at a moment in basketball history. Following the final season of the legendary 1990s Chicago Bulls team that was captained by Michael Jordan, the show inspected the nitty-gritty details of the end of a dynasty.

With its mix of behind-the-scenes footage and modern interviews, The Last Dance deftly weaves its narrative through ten episodes. Leaving no stone unturned, every aspect of those legendary years is put under a microscope, and yet, it never gets dull. This consistent quality is due in large part to the direction, as well as the fascinating characters being interviewed.

Winning Time (2022-Present)

Stream On HBO Max

Winning Time Episode 3 Jerry Buss Coaching Search Jerry Tarkanian

Bringing to life basketball royalty through reenactments, Winning Time is an HBO period piece that revolves around the birth of one of the sport’s biggest dynasties. The series follows Dr. Jerry Buss, an ambitious entrepreneur who buys the struggling Los Angeles Lakers franchise with hopes of turning it around. Buss’ entire plan depends on the success of a young rookie named Magic Johnson, who enters the league with a world of expectations on his shoulders.

With its hyper-stylized and comedic tone, Winning Time brings the real story to life with a touch of exaggeration as well. Featuring a stunning cast that is helmed by John C. Reilly, the show is a perfect balance between sports fan service, and simply being a brilliant TV product. Even someone who knows the story well has a lot to enjoy from the unique way that the writers twist the narrative in fun directions.

NEXT: Winning Time Characters & Their Real-Life Counterparts In Photos 

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