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Following his starring role in the Space Jam remake, LeBron James is heading back behind the camera to produce Rez Ball, a Native American basketball drama for Netflix.
Rez Ball is described as Friday Night Lights meets Hoosiers. The story, according to the project’s description, “follows the Chuska Warriors, a Native American high school basketball team from Chuska, New Mexico, that must band together after losing their star player if they want to keep their quest for a state championship alive. It’s an all-American underdog story about Navajo kids and coaches told from the inside-out.”
Veteran television director Sydney Freeland will direct from a script she co-wrote with Sterlin Harjo, who with Taika Waititi co-created the upcoming FX series Resveration Dogs, for which Freeland wrote and directed episodes.
The duo is writing the story based on Michael Powell’s sports novel Canyon Dreams, as well as his New York Times articles that preceded it, which both explore the world of “reservation basketball,” which has a unique lightening-quick pace that is rumored to have influenced top NBA teams and coaches throughout the years.
Production will take place on location in New Mexico, including filming on reservations with the permission and support of the local sovereign tribal nations.
Maverick Carter will produce with James under their SpringHill Company banner, along with Wise Entertainment Maurício and Katie Mota, who are behind the popular Hulu teen drama series East Los High. Executive producers are Spencer Beighley and Jamal Henderson for SpringHill.
“Basketball on the Rez is like high school football in West Texas. It has a fanatical following that few sports can rival,” explains Freeland. “This is a story that’s commonplace on Indian reservations all over the US, but most people aren’t even aware it exists. What we want to do is bring people into our world, to tell a story about the people and places we know, and what better way to do that than through a sports movie?”
Harjo is repped by APA, Circle of Confusion and Del Shaw. Wise Entertainment is repped by CAA and Del Shaw.
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