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Unfinished Business premieres on ESPN and streaming services

“Unfinished Business” Premiere - 2022 Tribeca Festival Photo by Hippolyte Petit/Getty Images for Tribeca Festival

To get to the future you want to live in, it helps to revisit the past. When you look at the past, you can see the journey that got you to where you are today. In looking at that journey, you can look at the key moments that defined you and chart a new path forward. The past can show you how far you’ve come and how much further you can go.

Chicago Sky v Minnesota Lynx Photo by Jordan Jones/NBAE via Getty Images

On Saturday afternoon, the Minnesota Lynx and Chicago Sky played the first WNBA game to ever take place in Canada. The game was sold out and the fans were treated to a show as the Sky came away with a win in the preseason finale. The W has been thinking of expansion for quite some time, and our friends in the North have made a great case for themselves. The Canada game is a welcome opportunity for the game of basketball to continue expanding and pave the way for the next generation of hoopers. A new documentary takes a look at the W’s past and helps us see a vibrant, beautiful future on the horizon.

Unfinished Business” tells the story of the WNBA and one of its original franchises, the New York Liberty. The documentary follows the Liberty throughout the 2021 season, the year they returned to New York after being stuck in Westchester for two seasons prior to the 2020 wubble. It also chronicles the rise of the Liberty and the WNBA at large from its inception in 1997 up to the present day.

Last June, I asked Stefanie Dolson about the importance of this movie and she said:

“I think it’s really important. For us, that’s our biggest strength when it comes to the fans appreciating us, understanding us, understanding how the league started and where we all come from and the struggles that we go through throughout the entire offseason and throughout the season. We don’t have the dunks and the extraness that the NBA does, but I think for us that’s our best thing is the connection we make with the fans. So having a film like that and having that chance to show that is really important for our team but also for the league going forward.”

It was something Alison Klayman echoed when she told the assembled press after Media Day when she told us

“We can’t believe this movie doesn’t exist already.”

Executive Producer of the movie and Liberty & Brooklyn Nets co-owner, Clara Wu Tsai, talked about the film on Good Morning America earlier this week..,

The film was a behind the scenes look at the Liberty as they fought to make it back to the playoffs after not being in it since 2017. Didi Richards was one of the highlights of the film as we got to see her journey as a rookie and as a person following a severe injury at Baylor in 2020. We also got to see how Natasha Howard and Betnijah Laney helped turn the team around when they joined the club in the winter of 2021. Klayman takes us through the team’s highs and frustrating lows as New York fought to make it to the postseason. Although their season ended in the first round at the hands of Sandy Brondello’s Phoenix Mercury, you could see all the makings of a team that was on the path back to respectability.

Unfinished Business also served as a roadmap of the Liberty’s history over time. We get to see how the team came together, how players like Teresa Weatherspoon, Sue Wicks, Kym Hampton, etc. led the team to multiple Finals appearances in the early days of the franchise. We got a feel for how much the city loved them as they were consistently near the top of the W in attendance when they resided in Madison Square Garden. And, it included a look at one of the greatest moments in WNBA, Liberty, and NYC hoops history

It also examined the changing nature of society over time and how WNBA players have been on the forefront of advocacy efforts. As Myles Ehrlich explains over at The Local W:

The work’s narrative framing allows for deft time jumps from the late ‘90s to today, highlighting stark contrasts that show that the league’s growth is not always linear. One of the most jarring and poignant sections of the film discusses the early WNBA’s marketing efforts to distance itself from its LGBTQ+ fans. Sue Wicks’ all-but-forced coming out story is placed side-by-side with Brittney Griner’s experience, and the safety BG felt in sharing her sexuality, without fear of financial repercussion, shortly after becoming the top pick in the 2013 draft. However, when the film later examines the WNBA’s early pushback against the 2016 Liberty and Minnesota Lynx’s support of the Black Lives Matter social justice movement, the league’s response strikes the same upsetting chords as it did when alienating its gay fans nearly two decades before.

I don’t want to spoil too much of the film, both because every WNBA fan should make it a priority to see and support this work, and because there’s just so much captured in the conjunction of aesthetics that is all but ineffable, that I just can’t do justice here. But I’ll say this much: thematically, this project serves as a reminder that each inch of progress has been fought for, and that each subsequent draft class is building off the players that came before.

At 90 minutes, it’s a fun, breezy watch that leaves you wanting to learn even more about the heroes of the Liberty and WNBA. Klayman mentioned after Media Day that there were about eight more movies within this one film. A documentary like this encourages new people to come into this media space and tell the stories of folks who may not always get the shine and love they deserve.

The film premiered on ESPN2 Sunday and will be available to stream on Amazon Prime to rent or purchase and will be available to stream for Amazon Prime or Prime Video subscribers beginning on Monday, May 15. It can also be seen at the BAM Rose Theater in Brooklyn.