The Last Dance - ESPN sports documentary series that delighted NBA fans
A cross-section of Michael Jordan’s career and the Bulls ’foray into the throne of the best team of all time?
Ten episodes are barely enough to show the career of the greatest among NBA greats and giants - Michael Jordan. It’s hard to say for someone that he’s the best in NBA history. But that's why there is no basketball fan for whom Michael 'Air' Jordan is not in the top three players on the eternal list of the best. One thing is for sure - what Jordan did, never happened before or after any NBA player. Win six Rings, but with a 2-game break. To go, then come back and conquer the NBA again, show them who the boss is, only Jordan managed that.
The series is phenomenally conceived, over 500 hours of recorded material has been reduced to a 10-part series, aptly named The Last Dance. Why this name? Because the basis of each episode is the path to winning the sixth and final NBA title of the legendary Bulls team from the 1990s. Each episode has two thematic units. One whole is the Bulls ’march in the 1997-1998 season, toward winning the Sixth Ring of the NBA Champions. The second unit is, with the help of archival material, a return to the past. This archival part is invaluable, and it is extremely well directed and incorporated into every single episode.
So in the first episode, we see Jordan in college, before the draft - priceless shots of the early days and the birth of a great and legendary career. The second episode is thematically dedicated to the best ‘second’ player in the league - the epochal domination of the Chicago Bulls, Scottie Pippen. The underrated Pippen, notorious in Croatia for his hostility to Toni Kukoc, was at the height of his fame with only 105 players in terms of income in the NBA league. If you’re wondering how that’s possible, you have to watch the series because nothing hides or mystifies, at least not if it’s not Jordan. The third episode is dedicated to the bad boy - Denis Rodman. With a lot of understanding, director Hehir explains why Rodman was a great player and a key part of the five in Jordan's return campaign for NBA titles. The fourth episode presents the last key figure of the Bulls' legendary six-title campaign - coach Phil Jackson. The great coach is the author of the legendary sentence The Last Dance, referring to the last season of the team in this lineup. The team’s creator, manager Jerry Krause, said before the Bulls ’final season in this squad that the Jackson would not lead the Bulls next year. He just achieved all 82 victories. It was this statement that created the hated and main villain in the disintegration of a large, epochal team. And yet the truth is somewhat different. Jerry Krause is not to blame for the break-up of the legendary 1998 team. The sequence of events was simply such that it had to happen.
With this sentence, I move on to the other side of the great series. Aside from this dazzling, wonderful story about the greatest among former NBA players - Jordan, the series has its obvious flaws. In terms of the truth that is essentially blurred and reduced here by a single censor - His Majesty the Jordan. First and foremost, Michael Jordan has ‘approved’ a series that will be a representative cross-section of his career, on one condition. That he approves each episode. ESPN and director Jason Hehir have rightly been lifted to the heavens for this great series. Excellently conceived, directed, it can be said a historical series in a sporting sense. But in a human sense, it all depends on how fascinated you are by Michael Jordan’s athletic size. Without a doubt, Jordan is for me the best NBA basketball player of all time.
Not so much because of the six titles won, but because of the competitiveness, and the absolute commitment to the goal. To be dominant, to be the best of the best. Thanks primarily to talent, skill and not a height of two and a half meters and a weight of half a ton. Jordan was a quarterback. And the back-shooter has the entire opposing team in front of him, which is trying to stop him from scoring. Huge centres, like O’Neill, have a mass, which is why only one to two players of the opposing team can parry defending the hoop. Jordan was a defender, it was harder for him than, say, Chamberlain, Olajuwon, Jabbar or Russell to hit from the racket. And he succeeded. If he didn’t, he wouldn’t even have six NBA Champion Rings. The best of the best, or at least on top. But in a human sense, there’s no way I’m going to say or write that. First of all, putting all the blame on the back of the late Krause, whom he will not defend, is disgusting in itself. Krause died in March 2017 and will be remembered as the man who created the team that won as many as six NBA titles between 1991-1998. The attitude of Pippen and Jordan in the series towards him is, to put it mildly, disgusting. In 1998, the man had to hide from these two. Insults, humiliation, even ridicule of his physical appearance were a normal occurrence on the Bulls team.
Jordan was in the lead, to which Krause was not allowed to respond due to the status of the Deity that Jordan had in the champion team. Jackson didn't move a finger to prevent being teased is on the unfortunate Krause. And the same Jerry Krause gave him a chance to lead the Bulls when Jackson was a stranger in the coaching business. Likewise, Phil Jackson did not move a finger as Jordan physically assaulted the players in the locker room and training. The dark side of the story.
After all, apart from Jordan, the actors of this series are not very happy with the truth seen in The Last Dance. Read Grant's statements, including Pippen's. Things will be clearer to you though. Finally, let me try to explain why the 1998 Bulls team disbanded. Perhaps it’s best to leave it to the hated Krause, quoting an excerpt from his unpublished biography.
"During the title campaign in 1998, cracks began to appear in the foundations of the team. Rodman's age, Luc Longley's slower movement and poorer efficiency after 100 games were not visible to the audience. We didn’t have enough time to recover over the summer in preparation and the public didn’t know it. The fact that winning the title brings us the last place in the selection in the draft of the next season did not mean anything to the public. We were lucky with Toni Kukoč because most people didn't think he would come to the NBA and he got working in the second phase of the draft when we could choose him. "
"But in the eyes of the fans and the media, we had Jordan and he was stronger than anything. We also had Scottie Pippen who had two surgeries in two years that the public thought could be the perfect support for Michael, ” Krause revealed.
“In Jackson, we had the best coach that the public didn’t know he didn’t want to lead a team that is in reconstruction and who told us that before the season. He informed us that he wanted to go to Montana and take at least one year off, ” Krause also reveals.
The following information will reveal to you how right Krause was. A year after the breakup of the legendary Bulls team, Rodman ended his career after only 30 games, tired of constant partying. Jordan played less than half the season as he nearly cut off a finger on a tobacco blade. Pippen is a trader. The Bulls management signed a new contract with him a couple of months before the trade, and they didn't have to. That lifted his contract with Houston for $ 20 million. Kerru and other supporting players, the price went up so much that the Bulls could no longer keep them. The decision to rebuild the team was the only solution.