“Shut Up and Dribble,” a three-part documentary series on the history of basketball, whose executive producers includes LeBron James, premieres at 9 p.m. Saturday evening on Showtime.
The premiere episode features looks at challenges to the establishment by three of the game’s greatest players.
Bill Russell discusses the folly of his coach at the University of San Francisco, Phil Woolpert, insisting that he follow the standard of the time and not jump when playing defense, which would have kept him from blocking shots, which became one of his specialties as he led the Dons to back-to-back NCAA championships and the Boston Celtics to 11 NBA titles in 13 seasons.
The documentary also recounts Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, then known as Lew Alcindor, boycotting the 1968 Summer Olympics to protest discrimination against blacks in the U.S.
Oscar Robertson recalls his role as president of the NBA Players Association in leading the effort in the early 1970s to block a bill in Congress that would have permitted a complete merger of the ABA and NBA because it would have ended bidding for players services in the era before free agency.
The title stems from a remark by conservative talk show host Laura Ingraham in response to a comment by James in February about Golden State Warriors players declining an invitation to the White House.
The series is directed by Gotham Chopra, who directed the 2015 Showtime documentary “Kobe Bryant’s Muse” and the Facebook Watch documentary series on New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, “Tom vs Time,” released earlier this year.
The executive producers also include Maverick Carter, James’ business manager.
“If being a star athlete is inherently a political experience, `Shut Up and Dribble” tells that complex and dramatic story from the past to the present and from the inside out,” Showtime Networks Inc. president and CEO David Nevins said.