Key figures from an infamous 2004 incident between players and fans at an NBA game in Michigan discuss the fight, its fallout and its lasting legacy.
From Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles to Tyrone Mings, there has been a recent wave of athletes talking publicly and honestly about their mental health. In turn, some of the negative reaction to their stories has shown that there is still a long way to go. In this sense, Untold (Netflix) feels incredibly timely. This five-part documentary offers a forensic look at sport and the stars it creates. It goes deep into the psychology of excellence, and how fame and expectations can have a corrosive effect on an athlete’s mental and physical wellbeing. Often, it makes you think that there must be a better way of doing things.
The series pulls five disparate and dramatic tales out of the sporting annals and digs into what happened, and why. It is fascinating and should appeal to sports lovers, as well as those who would have preferred to stare at a blank screen than watch any of the Olympics. Unusually for Netflix, one episode will appear per week, rather than the whole lot arriving at once. Given that each documentary is a meaty, standalone feature-length film, shot with a cinematic flavour, it seems reasonable. They are all so gripping it almost enhances the pleasure to wait.
The first instalment, Malice at the Palace, might be the best. Broadly, it tells the story of the basketball game that took place on 19 November 2004 between the Indiana Pacers and the Detroit Pistons. In its closing moments, the game descended into a mass brawl between players and members of the crowd. Untold sets up an intriguing premise from its opening moments, promising unseen footage of that night. Even now, after almost 20 years, it proves to be a shocking scene.