ESPN’s ‘The Last Dance’ Review


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(Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

Anthony Yero, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Over the course of 10 episodes, ESPN’s documentary series, “The Last Dance”, provides a deep dive into the legendary Chicago Bulls’ dynasty as they pursued their historic sixth and final NBA championship title in 1997-98. The Bulls allowed an NBA Entertainment crew to follow the team around for that entire season, and capture some never-before-seen footage that is featured in the documentary. In addition, ESPN conducted over 100 interviews with famous figures and basketball’s biggest names, including the late, Kobe Bryant.

The term ‘The Last Dance’ refers to the Bulls’ final title run in 1998. With general manager Jerry Krause announcing that head coach Phil Jackson wouldn’t be returning, and Jordan saying he wouldn’t play for any other coach, the term was coined to emphasize a season-long run to put an exclamation point to the historic dynasty.

Directed by Jason Hehir, whose previous projects include multiple editions of ESPN’s “30 for 30” series, “The Last Dance” does more than just feature the 1998 season. Throughout the process, the documentary focuses on the other key figures in the Bulls dynasties who didn’t also happen to win five MVPs. One episode reflects on Jordan’s wingman, Scottie Pippen, and his Arkansas roots, while another brings up Dennis Rodman’s nightlife antics.

However, it’s clear who the star of the show is: Michael Jeffery Jordan. Time and time again, the viewer is left in awe after hearing the man himself discuss career, life and legacy. Known to be ultra competitive, Jordan drew a lot of criticism throughout his career for being too harsh on his teammates, but in reality, all he wanted to do is win.

“The Last Dance” draws heavily on behind-the-scenes footage shot at the time. Among the most notable is being inside the locker room at the 1998 NBA All-Star Game, as Jordan and other all-stars, like former Miami Heat guard Tim Hardaway, talk about about this newcomer on the opposing team who rarely passes the ball named Kobe Bryant. Later on in the episode, the late Laker legend gives his point-of-view on what it meant to develop a relationship with his idol at the time.

Throughout the docu-series, everybody that is interviewed has their own “Jordan story,” whether it’s his teammates, other NBA players, or even President Barack Obama.

In retrospect, “The Last Dance” serves to remind about Jordan’s greatness, and how he was able to handle the spotlight and stardom that surrounded him from the moment he stepped foot on the court. And while I sure didn’t live in that time period, it’s easy to tell that Jordan was the primary image for sports around the world. Jordan set the stage for greatness, and to this day continues to hold the throne.

For sports fans all over the world, 10-hours of Michael Jordan basketball comes as a blessing. The ongoing pandemic has cut professional sports out of our lives for the past two months, so having this documentary take over my Sunday nights was beyond spectacular.