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New NBL doco showcases highs, lows of Kings title run

The Sydney Kings celebrate winning the 2022 NBL title. Matt King/Getty Images

In the middle of a sputtering start to NBL22, the Sydney Kings had just been blown out by 42 points on the road against Melbourne United.

"Heads up. This is over, we've got to get ready to play on Saturday," head coach Chase Buford addressed his squad in the locker room.

The first-year Sydney coach may have been concerned, but externally the message was simple and the body language positive as he walked around the room to high-five each player.

"I try not to live with regrets. Make a decision and go with it full steam ahead. In the low moments it's about trying to figure out how to get the team better, how to get the team right and how to get ourselves right."

Buford and the Kings would find the formula soon after, winning 19 of their last 21 games, including a 5-0 mark in the postseason to clinch the title on their home floor at Qudos Bank Arena.

That behind-the-scenes insight is covered in NBL Next Level, a six-part documentary that follows the NBL22 journey through the lens of several major storylines -- the series will premiere on ESPN this Sunday night from 8:30pm.

Episode four follows the Kings on their path to the postseason as injury concerns and media pressure escalated as the emotional rollercoaster of an NBL season took hold.

"It's a pretty high-pressure job being the coach of the Sydney Kings. My take on Chase is what you see is what you get. I'd back myself to play poker against Chase," Kings owner Paul Smith says with a laugh.

"In hiring Chase, one of the clear messages I gave was wanting him to be himself. I always joke with Chase, if you ever see me tweet 'Chase has the full support of the board' then you need to worry."

In addition to Buford's journey, the MVP path for Jaylen Adams is documented, as is the rejuvenated rivalry between the Kings and Illawarra Hawks. The series finale centres around the Kings and JackJumpers Grand Final series, with the powerhouse Kings ending the fairy tale run of the league's newest franchise.

Sitting in the middle of a confetti covered Qudos Bank Arena court with a beer in hand and the trophy by his side, Buford reflected on the wild ride to that moment.

"The overriding emotion right now is relief. Hopefully I can enjoy this more in the coming days but I'm so proud of our team, everything they've been through. Not having Jaylen in the finals, it's a tough group, a resilient group. Even tonight, things weren't going well, we just found a way to keep competing down the stretch and they did it together which is special.

"I had to grow up a lot, I've got a lot of growing up still to do. Again, I'm honoured to have coached such a special group that has grown and been resilient for me and with me throughout the season."

In addition to the Kings title pursuit, the documentary covers the JackJumpers' first NBL season in detail, the Perth Wildcats' postseason streak snapping, Luke Travers path to the NBA and much more.

Watch the premiere of NBL Next Level this Sunday at 8:30pm on ESPN.