The highly anticipated Michael Jordan documentary miniseries, “The Last Dance,” premiered April 19 on ESPN. During the sport-less times of the coronavirus pandemic, the series provides fulfilling entertainment that shows Jordan’s story from a new perspective.
Michael Jordan’s name does not need much of an explanation. Jordan is arguably not only the best player of all time, but the most popular and influential athlete of all time. His career accomplishments, stardom and brand have made him a household name.
While Jordan’s story has been retold in countless documentaries, “The Last Dance” is the most introspective of them all. It provides a biography of Jordan’s life, but the plot is centered on the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls’ historic title run. Part of what makes this documentary so unique is this title run, as a 1997 film crew gained full access to their full season. This footage gives the closest and truest look at the iconic Bulls team. From locker room conversations to heated practices, “The Last Dance” is as raw and uncensored as a sports documentary can get.
The series also does not glamorize or deify Jordan or the Bulls’ title run as so many sports fans tend to do. It instead highlights Jordan’s competitiveness, never shying away from his clashes with the front office’s decisions. It does not polish his image, but paints a real picture of what it was like to play with or against him.
The series captures the “go big or go home” mentality of the season during their championship season well. The title of the series, “The Last Dance,” refers to the team’s final chance at making a title run in their dynasty. With Jordan and company, the Bulls won five championships within seven years. However, Chicago’s front office believed it was time to rebuild and move on from head coach Phil Jackson. General Manager Jerry Krause gave Jackson one more year as coach for the 1997-98 season, which marked his “last dance” with the team.
The series does not only focus on Jordan, but features all of his teammates and their stories. In the second episode, the show highlighted the importance of Scottie Pippen to Jordan’s play. They formed one of the most formidable duos of all time, but Pippen’s play was often undermined by Jordan’s star power. The series shows how Pippen was underpaid and undervalued by the front office, which caused a conflict that would eventually lead to his departure after the season.
Decades after Jordans’ six championships with the Bulls, “The Last Dance” recaptures a beautiful nostalgia for the 90s and one of the greatest sports dynasties ever. The documentary brings together a crew of old NBA legends to share their stories of Jordan and the Bulls, such as Larry Bird, Isaiah Thomas, and Magic Johnson. “The Last Dance” promises to feature even more exciting interviews in upcoming episodes. The first two episodes show former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, who recounted their memories of the Bulls both on and off field.
Whether you are a basketball fan or not, “The Last Dance” is a series worth watching. It opens a time capsule of some of the most iconic slices of sports and pop culture history when we need it most. So, on Sunday, grab your snack of choice and take a seat for “The Last Dance.”