The Netflix documentary series “The Playbook,” which features Dawn Staley as one of its subjects, debuted Tuesday morning.
Staley is the subject of the fifth episode (all five are available). In addition to Staley, the series will feature NBA coach Doc Rivers, soccer coaches Jill Ellis (US women) and José Mourinhoand , and Patrick Mouratoglou (Serena Williams’ tennis coach). The series is produced by Lebron James through TheSpringHill Company which was founded by James and his long-time business partner Maverick Carter, who are listed as executive producers. The company has produced a variety of projects, most notably the upcoming Space Jam sequel.
The episode is 31 minutes long, and covers mostly familiar ground for Gamecock fans. The focus of the episode is on how losing in the Final Four as a player motivated Staley to win as a coach. Staley is the only interview subject, and she covers her childhood in Philadelphia, college years at Virginia, and coaching tenure at South Carolina. It culminates with winning the national championship, and although there is footage from the last two seasons, they aren’t discussed.
There are some neat snippets, such as a conversation with Olivia Thompson during practice, and some old clips that most fans have probably never seen. There is footage from A’ja Wilson’s official visit that probably hasn’t been seen since 2014, along with some old player interviews. There are also some clips from games in empty Colonial Life Arena from Staley’s early seasons. Those clips alone will be worth watching for Gamecocks fans.
The episode freely inserts practice footage without properly identifying when it occurred. The issue ranges from annoying (they really couldn’t have replaced that anachronistic shot of an empty Colonial Life Arena in 2015 with one from 2019?) to misleading. At one point, Staley is seen addressing the 2016 team followed by a clip of the 2017 team in action, with the implication being that was her pregame speech.
That won’t bother most people. They’ll enjoy the memories and the new tidbits. Staley talks in more detail about the net exchange with Carolyn Peck than I remember her discussing before. There are cute shots of Champ. There are clips from Staley’s playing days, and even if they aren’t in order some of the practice clips are interesting.
Plus, at the end of the day, it is a 30-minute recruiting pitch, and as far I can tell, she’s the only women’s college basketball coach with her own show on Netflix.