LeBron James’ SpringHill Company will produce a film for Netflix about a Native American style of basketball commonly known as “Rez Ball.” The streamer has set Sydney Freeland to co-write and direct the feature.
The term “Rez Ball,” or “rezball,” is short for “reservation ball” and is a style of basketball specific to Native American reservations that involves transition play, aggressive defense, quick scoring and strategic pressure meant to force half-court traps.
The film is based on a non-fiction sports novel called “Canyon Dreams” by Michael Powell, as well as a New York Times article that preceded it.
“Rez Ball” is a coming-of-age sports drama, and the film is described as “Friday Night Lights” meets “Hoosiers.” It follows the Chuska Warriors, a Native American high school basketball team from Chuska, N.M., that must band together after losing their star player if they want to keep their quest for a state championship alive.
Maurício Mota and Katie Mota’s Wise Entertainment and James and Maverick Carter’s The SpringHill Company are producing the film. Executive producers on the project are Spencer Beighley and Jamal Henderson of The SpringHill Company.
Production on “Rez Ball” will take place in New Mexico, including filming on reservations with the permission and support of the local sovereign tribal nations.
Freeland is a Navajo filmmaker known for “Drunktown’s Finest” and the upcoming FX show “Reservation Dogs.” She will direct “Rez Ball” in addition to co-writing with “Reservation Dogs” collaborator Sterlin Harjo.