Dorchester-born actor, burger mogul, Boston sports fan, and ’90s boy band member Donnie Wahlberg is co-narrating the five-hour film, Celtics/Lakers: Best of Enemies, the network announced Wednesday. According to ESPN, Wahlberg will narrate the Celtics portion of the documentary, while fellow ’90s hip hop talent-turned-actor Ice Cube will serve as narrator for the Lakers.
The two-part documentary, which is part of ESPN’s acclaimed 30 for 30 series, will air on ESPN on Tuesday, June 13, and Wednesday, June 14 — the two days between what would be Games 5 and 6 of the NBA Finals.
Coinciding with the 30th anniversary of the 1987 Finals, Best of Enemies focuses on the peak of the heated Celtics-Lakers rivalry. However, the film begins by tracing the interwoven history of the two historic teams from the 1960s through the heydays of the 1980s. In a statement, directer Jim Podhoretz said they found the players they interviewed “to be totally engaged.”
“The vivid details that they recall, the candid feelings, their hatred, their joy and their vulnerability are all out there for people to see,” Podhoretz said.
According to ESPN, the film includes interviews with “key figures in the rivalry.” In December, Podhoretz told Sports Illustrated that he had already conducted long interviews with Danny Ainge and Cedric Maxwell and expected to secure sit-downs with Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Johnson can be seen in a brief trailer released by ESPN.
Here's everything you need to know about our upcoming #CelticsLakers film… airing in less than 2 weeks!
— ESPN Films 30 for 30 (@30for30) June 1, 2017
Here’s a breakdown of how the film will unfold over the two-night debut, according to ESPN:
Parts One and Two of the film not only trace the history, but also present a fabulous cast of characters who would change the NBA and open America’s collective mind. At the center of it all in the 1980s was a pair of brilliant basketball talents – Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. Bird’s Celtics and Magic’s Lakers circled each other for four years until they faced off in an epic NBA Finals in 1984.
Part Three picks up the story right after the thrilling 1984 NBA Finals and then explores the saga from 1985 to 1987 as the teams’ disdain for each other gradually turns to respect. The Celtics and Lakers – Bird and Magic in particular – transformed the fans’ view of the game from simple black-and-white to full-blown Technicolor. By the end of their last battle of that era in 1987, while there was still animosity, they had also developed a hard-earned respect for each other. In the final analysis, it was a rivalry that forced America to no longer view the league in black and white.