Anything involving Michael Jordan was always going to get hyped.
The man, the myth, the phenom, the legend. He was one of basketball’s best and one of sport’s finest, full stop. So it was no surprise when rave reviews started doing the rounds about the 10-part mini series co-produced by ESPN films and Netflix about the Chicago Bulls icon’s life and career.
Like most things, there’s a degree of concern about jumping on a bandwagon as it gathers momentum. Is it going to be as good as everyone is making out? Will I expect too much and will it deliver too little? Well for once, in this case, The Last Dance delivers everything it promises and more.
The insight into the No.23’s extraordinary NBA success story, which took basketball to new heights, is as inspiring as it is emotional. The storytelling is entertaining, the soundbites captivating and the footage hair-raisingly nostalgic.
Centred on his final season with the Bulls in 1998, flashbacks help tell the rise (and rise and rise…) of the man who transformed the franchise he joined as well as his sport by being a once-in-a-lifetime talent.
He did that at a time when access to world-class superstars was not just a Tweet away, which means the unseen insight into the life of ‘Air Jordan’ is an eye-opening joy to watch unfold. If that isn’t enough to entice, throw in the appearances from a list of high-profile
former team-mates and celebrities and the reasons to keep watching can easily go into overtime.
Following the story of Chicago’s rise would be enough. Learning more about Dennis Rodman and Scottie Pippen. Hearing from Phil Jackson. It’s the icing on the cake.
Yet when you’ve got all of that and Jordan, it’s the perfect viewing mix for even the most lukewarm of basketball fans.
This documentary is for all sports fans though who want to understand. Who want to feel inspired. Who want to learn what it takes to be one of the greatest.
Almost 20 years after hanging up his Air Jordans, you can still see the desire to win in MJ’s eyes. How the grudges that took him to levels mere mortals could only dream of reaching remain. His desire to push others to achieve. The selfishness. The sacrifices. He only cared about one thing: winning.
Jordan was obsessed with being the best. And 99.9 times out of 100 he was.
Of course he had help, but the Bulls’ greatness owes so much to him.
There’s plenty of tear-jerking moments along the way too (without giving too much away) as well as nail-biting sporting action that feels like it’s been scripted because it’s that enthralling. That’s because sport tells the best stories.
You find yourself wanting the drama to go on a little bit longer – even though you know the end is coming. Like his career, which involved an 18-month basketball break, you just wish the series could have gone on a little longer.
If you haven’t watched it yet, you must. Because when it’s over, you’ll soon find yourself giving a standing ovation in your own living room.
Name: Michael Jordan
Date of birth:
February 17, 1963
Height: 6ft 6in
Position: Shooting guard
Nicknames: Air Jordan, MJ
6x NBA champion with Chicago Bulls – 1991, 92, 93, 96, 97, 98
6x NBA finals Most Valuable Player (MVP) – 1991, 92, 93, 96, 97, 98
5x NBA MVP – 1988, 91, 92, 96, 98
Elected to Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009
Awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016
Film star: Jordan appeared in 1996 box office smash Space Jam but looks set not to appear in the upcoming Space Jam 2
Portrayal angers Bulls pal
It’s not all been rave reviews about the smash-hit series.
Some of Michael Jordan’s former team-mates, including Scottie Pippen, have been angered by their own portrayal and the supposed levels of MJ’s influence during the Bulls’ 1990s dominance.
Pippen may well be a key figure throughout the 10-part docu-series but feels it has been edited to show him as a troublemaker.
“He is so angry at Michael and how he was portrayed,” ESPN 1000’s David Kaplan said on the Kap and Co radio show.
“Called selfish, called this, called that, he’s furious that he participated and did not realise what he was getting himself into.
“He felt like that up until the last few minutes of Game Six against the Jazz (in the 1998 NBA finals during the series’ last episode), it was just ‘bash Scottie, bash Scottie, bash Scottie’.”
Horace Grant and Steve Kerr have also questioned the validity of some of their illustrious former colleague’s stories about his time with Chicago.
Grant described The Last Dance as a ‘so-called documentary’ because it had been heavily chopped and changed to fit Jordan’s narrative and make each episode more entertaining.
Soundbites from series
“Michael Jordan is the only player that could ever turn it on and off, and he never freakin’ turned it off.”
Roy Williams in episode two
“There were so many times that Tex used to yell at me saying, ‘Move the ball, move the ball! There is no ‘I’ in team.’ I said, ‘There’s an ‘I’ in win.’”
Michael Jordan tells Tex Winter what he thinks about Chicago Bulls trying to impose the famed offensive ‘triangle’
“It’s one of those incidents where I wish it never happened. But if I had a chance to do it over again, I probably wouldn’t change it.”
Scottie Pippen on not re-entering the Bulls’ 1994 Eastern Conference semi-final with 1.8 seconds to go because Toni Kukoc was given the final shot over him.
“That wasn’t Michael Jordan out there. That was God disguised as Michael Jordan.”
Hall of Famer Larry Bird after MJ scored 63 points in the second game of 1986 NBA play-offs.
Michael Jordan’s simple two-word statement he released after returning to basketball in 1995 following an 18-month stint playing baseball.
“Phil (Jackson), you let this dude go to vacation, we not gonna see him. You let him go to Vegas, we definitely not gonna see him.”
Michael Jordan wasn’t convinced wild child Dennis Rodman’s
mid-season trip to Las Vegas was a wise idea