As a sportswriter, it’s a good practice, even a cardinal rule that you remain unbiased. This normally is not a problem, but when it comes to basketball, namely the NBA, there’s an endless debate on who’s the GOAT (greatest of all time). Beginning Sunday, many who feel that honor goes to LeBron James, Kobe Bryant or whoever else, may be all but forced to join the masses who say Michael Jordan is the greatest.
A 10-hour miniseries in the form of five weekly two hour episodes, titled “The Last Dance,” could be one of the very few positives to come out of the whole COVID-19 shutdown. The ESPN series wasn’t supposed to air until June originally, but the network decided to air it two months early.
This has the makings of being an education, if you will, for the generation of basketball fans who are too young to have witnessed the Chicago Bulls dynasty.
The name “The Last Dance” comes from the team’s coach at the time, Phil Jackson. Before the start of the 1997-98 preseason, the team’s general manager Jerry Krause informed Jackson they wouldn’t be bringing him back after that season. Shortly after that, Michael Jordan stated that if Jackson wasn’t going to be back, then neither was he. “The Last Dance” was inscribed on the player’s handbook passed out to the players. It became the team’s season-long mission to put one final exclamation point on the Bulls’ greatness and dominance.
While the series will feature an abundance of Jackson and Jordan, it will also look at the on and off-the-court lives of Scottie Pippen and the on and off-court personality that was Dennis Rodman, among others.
The series focuses not only on 1998 but also on all the previous runs made by this team.
One thing remains just as clear today that it did then, that it was Jordan’s team.
He was notoriously competitive, his will to win is the popular sentiment of everyone who came in contact with him and among those who watched him.
“The Last Dance” was directed by Jason Hehir. It features never before seen behind-the-scenes footage by an NBA Entertainment film crew allowed to chronicle the team throughout the season.
While it’s hard to argue that this series was made to remind everyone of Jordan’s and the Chicago Bulls’ greatness, it could come off as such.
However, it doesn’t shy away from the negative aspects and criticisms that helped to further drive his greatness.
He was referred to early in his career as a great individual player, but not a winner, and he made it his mission to prove those critics wrong.
One snippet from the series that has been leaked is in regards to the age-old saying that while there’s no I in team, “There is an I in win.” That alone makes this documentary a must-watch.
It also looks at the lighthearted stuff like Jordan and Lakers legend Magic Johnson trash-talking with each other during a USA Olympics “Dream Team” practice game as well as inside the locker room at an NBA All-Star Game.
The documentary also features interviews and snippets from current basketball players, former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, speaking about not only this team but Jordan himself.
While it will surely focus on basketball, this will also showcase many of the off-the-court trials and tribulations that would’ve derailed just about any other team.
“The Last Dance” premieres Sunday, April 19th at 9 p.m. EDT. ESPN will air the uncut version, while an edited family-friendly one will air on ESPN2.