The Creative Mastery of Mike Bibby

Mike Bibby is well known to NBA and NCAA fans. A key member of multiple championship teams, Bibby retired in 2012 from the game he spent his life pursuing. Known for his work ethic, determination, and team support, Mike’s professional retirement as a player was far from the end of his influence. A new mini-documentary by Red Phoenix Entertainment shows the continuing story of this famed athlete and his commitment to helping young players understand and discover the true heart of basketball. Produced and directed by Livi Zheng, “After the NBA: The Second Rise of Mike Bibby” validates this tenacious athlete’s post NBA career and his efforts to instill the same passion and drive he possesses into the next generation of athletes. The documentary is emotionally and visually striking, an inherent trait of Zheng’s body of work, and presents Bibby in a more human/less sensationalized depiction than the typical pro-athlete film. This was the goal from the outset; communicating that greatness is achievable by those who thirst and pursue their potential.

After leading the University of Arizona Wildcats to an NCAA championship during his freshman year, Bibby went on to become a member of some of the NBA’s most successful teams including the Washington Wizards, Miami Heat, New York Knicks, Sacramento Kings, and Atlanta Hawks. Among the many successes in his nearly decade and a half career was helping the Kings cinch a Pacific division title over the Lakers, one of basketballs most successful teams in recent times. Mike Bibby was beloved by fans of all the teams he played for due to his commitment to hard work and ability to pull things together during tense games. After leaving his professional playing career, Mike took up coaching and reinvented the culture of the Shadow Mountain High School with an ensuing five state titles. It’s clear that his approach to the game subscribes to an ethos of hard work; one which is chronicled in “After the NBA: The Second Rise of Mike Bibby.”

Relating a story is one thing but telling it in a compelling way is what makes that story memorable and requires a greatness of its own. Livi Zheng has a list of productions to her credit that ranges from feature films to music videos and commercial work. Known for a grand cinematic tone in all of her work, Livi was pegged for this film partly due to her ability to see the epic qualities of a story before she captures it on film. In her estimation, an NBA athlete is not that different from an actor or musician in a vital way. Zheng relates, “It takes creativity to stand out in any occupation. Athletes are no different in this respect. They have to be creative to find their competitive advantage in order to win. Both athletes and singers need to be hard working and disciplined in order to achieve their goals.” She continues, “Making a film about a singer versus an athlete differs only a little because it’s essentially about the human element. As the audience, we want to know what it is like to be like them. We want to get to know them personally and see how they face adversity. We want to see what it feels like when they reach their goal and feel the emotions that they experience along the way.”

There is an intuitive translation of who Mike Bibby is through Livi’s film. In the same way that he transfers his love and methodology to the athletes he coaches, Zheng has bottled this essence through the camera and given the viewer the emotional sense of what it must be like to stand among them. The motion of the shots and camera angle gives one the sense that you are among those on his team and feel the energy vibrating off of him. It’s not by mistake that Zheng has managed to create the authentic “team spirit” which Bibby is so fond of and magically channelled this through the lens. There is a palpable sense of inspiration and dedication to mastery on both sides of the camera in “After the NBA: The Second Rise of Mike Bibby.” Both subject and filmmaker are clearly dedicated to pushing themselves to create something exceptional; this film is proof that they both have succeeded.

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Kelly King

Kelly King

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An LA based writer with more than a decade as a staff writer for NYC based Drumhead magazine, Kelly is also a contributor to a number of outlets.