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Gold Blooded: New format, same standard for NBA Entertainment’s championship storytelling

Gold Blooded features never-before-seen footage and interviews with team executives and players from the Golden State Warriors.

Stephen Curry and the Warriors celebrate winning the 2021 NBA championship.

When fans open the reimagined NBA App beginning Tuesday, Sept. 27, they will be treated to wall-to-wall content from every NBA game, social-style vertical video stories, unprecedented access to player and teams, new original programming and existing favorites, as well as access to the NBA vault for free.

Highlighting the new content is “Gold Blooded” – a seven-part docuseries telling the story of the Golden State Warriors’ journey to the 2022 NBA championship. The series features exclusive never-before-seen footage and interviews with team executives, coaches and players, including the big three of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. The first two episodes of the series are available with the launch of the app, with new episodes dropping every Tuesday and Thursday leading up to the start of the regular season.

“Normally we do a year-end film, a one-off look back at the team that won the NBA championship,” said Dion Cocoros, the director of “Gold Blooded.” “To be able to break this up into seven parts, it allowed up so be innovative in how we tell the story. So, it was exciting to not only tell the Warriors’ story, which is an amazing journey to the title, but also do something different and innovative at the same time.”

After two seasons of setbacks and struggle, the Warriors are whole again, with high hopes in training camp.

NBA Entertainment has been in the business of documenting basketball greatness for decades. They have captured the NBA’s best moments, players and teams and told the stories of plenty of championship teams. What was once a VHS tape became a DVD; what was a DVD became a Blu Ray; then it went to television and streaming services and the rollout changed a bit. “The Last Dance” was a 10-episode series chronicling the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls that was released over a five-week span in 2020 and became appointment viewing during the pandemic as the world was starved for new content. And now, the story of the 2022 NBA champion Warriors will be told in a similar fashion.

“Our goal is to give fans enough of an individual look at some of their individual stories of the team, but as a whole tell the story of the team’s journey,” said Cocoros. “So, it’s like two parallel stories. There’s the ongoing journey of the Warriors’ quest to win the title. But then there’s these individual chapters: let’s take a look back at how Klay got back on the court; here’s Andrew Wiggins, a new player on the team, what’s his role? Steph broke the 3-point record while we were there in New York. How do we weave that into the storyline?”

The first episode looks back at the devastating end of the 2019 NBA Finals for the Warriors and the series of setbacks they endured over the subsequent two seasons, while at the same time, the 2022 squad returns to open training camp with a sense of renewed hope and purpose.

The second episode not only covers the first 20 games of the season and recaps Golden State’s unexpected hot start, but it also focuses on the play of Draymond Green and how his energy is just as crucial to Golden State’s success as every 3-point splash from Curry and Thompson.

Future episodes will focus on Curry’s pursuit of Ray Allen’s record for most 3-pointers made in NBA history; Klay Thompson’s 941-day journey back to the court after an arduous recovery from both a torn ACL and a torn Achilles tendon; the Warriors’ return to the playoffs beginning with Curry coming off the bench as the big three played only 11 minutes together all season; the Warriors’ return to the NBA Finals stage; and ultimately how they overcame a 2-1 deficit to defeat the Boston Celtics and win their fourth title in eight seasons.

“I think the fans are going to have an incredible viewing experience because of how we broke it up,” said Cocoros. “That was also the biggest challenge because where do you end an episode? Where does one stop and one begin? We tried to make sure there were cliffhangers at the end of every episode not because of any other reason, but that’s how their season went.”

Just as Thompson returned to the court in January, Green went down with an injury for an extended period of time; just when Green returned in March, Curry went down with an injury that kept him out until the playoffs. “There were these natural obstacles that the team had to overcome and fit perfectly into each episode. So, every episode, I hope makes you want to come back for the subsequent one to see how it plays out,” said Cocoros.

The Warriors opened the doors to NBA Entertainment’s cameras, microphones and producers throughout the season to document the team as they looked to return to their championship standard established over the past decade.

“You can’t do a story like this without two key factors: an incredible NBA Entertainment archive, which obviously we had because the team had won four titles in the last seven years; and the cooperation of the team,” said Cocoros. “I can’t emphasize enough how this only works if the Warriors give us access all season like they did, to document the journey. So, they played a huge role in not only the winning the title, but also allowing us to have the access to the team to tell the story.”

The Warriors not only sat down for interviews after winning the title, reflecting back on the previous nine months and the journey from training camp to the championship, but they also allowed the cameras to record the journey in real-time throughout the season.

When NBA Entertainment went behind the scenes with the Warriors in December, February and May, there were plenty of questions marks about their chances to win the title, and the cameras and microphones were able to capture those moments authentically in the moment, rather than through the rose-colored championship glasses after the trophy has been hoisted and the champagne has dried.

Not only are fans treated to incredible access from this championship season – behind the scenes with Curry at Madison Square Garden when he broke the 3-point record, on the boat with Captain Klay as he discusses his connection to the water serving as therapy for him during his long comeback to the court; Draymond discussing how his children motivate him to continue to play at his best – there are also great flashbacks utilizing the extensive NBA vault of content.

We not only see Curry’s 2,974th career 3-pointer to break Allen’s record, but we also rewind back to Curry’s first 3-pointer on Oct. 30, 2009, when he was a baby-faced rookie out of Davidson, long before he changed the way the game of basketball is played today and for future generations.

This goes back to embracing the new docuseries format and utilizing each episode to not only stay on the chronological timeline of the season, but to go back in time to highlight an individual player’s timeline and show where he started and how he got to this moment in the championship season.

Guiding the fans through this remarkable story is Warriors veteran guard/forward Andre Iguodala, who serves as the narrator of “Gold Blooded.” Iguodala was part of the Golden State’s first three titles of this current run – winning Finals MVP in 2015 and being a key contributor in both 2017 and 2018. However, Iguodala was traded following Golden State’s loss to Toronto in the 2019 Finals. After spending two seasons with the Miami Heat, Iguodala returned to the Warriors for the 2021-22 season.

The idea to have Iguodala as the narrator came to Cocoros while watching the Warriors facing the Celtics in the NBA Finals from his seat in the arena.

“I noticed that, even though he wasn’t playing as much, he was just as engaged, if not more engaged from the bench,” said Cocoros. “I noticed that every time there was a timeout, he would grab one of the young guys – whether it was [Jordan] Poole, or Wiggins, or [Jonathan] Kuminga — and really, really motivate them and coach them up.

“I thought there are other ways of contributing to a team than just points, rebounds and assists on the floor. And I said, here’s a guy that came back, probably because he wanted one last run, he had no idea what he was getting into. And here he is, in The Finals, totally opening himself up to the younger guys who had experiences for the first time. And I said, if they win, he would make a great storyteller.”

Cocoros’ instinct was right as Iguodala shines as the narrator of the docuseries, offering his unique perspective to the story and guiding fans through the ups and downs of not just this season, but this entire championship window of the Warriors.

There is a unique challenge to building a docuseries around an event where the target audience of the series already knows how the story ends. It’s similar to watching “Titanic” and knowing before you press play that the ship sinks in the end. Or hearing the character of Aaron Burr close the opening song of “Hamilton” announcing that he’s the one that shoots Hamilton in the end. The drama isn’t about the end result, but about the journey to build toward that end result.

“Our cold open to the show is Steph Curry telling you it’s title number four, we’re not hiding it, the first thing you see is the Warriors winning,” said Cocoros. “Now let’s go back over seven episodes and tell you how we got here.”

Every championship season has its trials, tribulations, and ultimately, its triumphs. With “Gold Blooded,” fans will be able to recount each of those moments in greater detail than ever before.