Like all workers, professional NBA basketball players sometimes have conflicts with their bosses. Every few years, the team owners and players’ union have meetings to determine a new collective bargaining agreement. Sometimes a new agreement is ratified by both sides with hardly any trouble, as happened in 2016. But other times, as in 2011, the conflicts are more acute, and the new agreement takes so long to ratify that the start of the season is delayed by a lockout. The latter situation is the focus of Steven Soderbergh’s upcoming Netflix film High Flying Bird, which explores the various power moves that take place during an NBA lockout.
As seen in the new trailer, the focus of High Flying Bird is sports agent Ray Burke (André Holland), who sees an opportunity in the lockout. His career is threatened by the fact that his star client currently can’t play basketball, but Ray knows that “these rich white dudes” won’t let “the sexiest sport” fall by the wayside. Ray seeks to use his client’s value as a basketball player to undermine the league’s traditional power dynamic; he has 72 hours to outmaneuver every other power-player in an attempt to change the league forever. While Kyle MacLachlan’s owner likes to think of his team as “one big family,” it’s clear he probably won’t react well to this threat.
In addition to Holland and MacLachlan, High Flying Bird‘s ensemble cast also includes Zazie Beetz, Melvin Gregg, Sonja Sohn, Zachary Quinto, and Bill Duke, plus appearances from real-life NBA athletes Reggie Jackson, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Donovan Mitchell. The screenplay was written by Tarell Alvin McCraney, the Academy Award-winning writer of Moonlight (where Holland memorably appeared as the grown-up version of Kevin Jones).
Check out the trailer above. High Flying Bird hits Netflix on Feb. 8.