The National Basketball Association began experimenting with virtual reality last year, when it used the medium to stream the first game of its 2015 season. Now, the league has teamed up with Oculus on a VR documentary about last year’s championship matchup, between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers. Titled Follow my Lead: The Story of the 2016 NBA Finals, this 360-degree video experience aims to take you where traditional TV can’t, giving you a first-person look at the action on and off the court.
The 25-minute story, created by Brooklyn-based production company m ss ng p ecess (“missing pieces,” get it?), is narrated by actor Michael B Jordan (Friday Night Lights, Creed). And it doesn’t just focus on Game 7, which Cleveland won at Oracle Arena in Oakland, but rather the entire series. I had the chance to check it out and walked away fairly impressed. The best part about it is that, unlike watching a film on my TV or phone, the VR headset gave me the option to explore and focus on whatever I wanted to.
I spent most of the time paying attention to highlights of the basketball games, but it was nice to also be able to spin my head and watch how fans in the arena celebrated a LeBron James dunk. In general, though, that’s the beauty about virtual reality experiences — they’re different for everyone. Here’s a perfect example of the value of this kind of storytelling: remember that cameraman who, during Game 6 of the 2016 NBA Finals, fell down as he followed LeBron to the locker room? Well, here you can see it actually happening, whereas on TV you only knew because of the botched camera shot.