Michael Jordan’s ‘The Last Dance’ premieres on Netflix
Twenty two years after basketball legend Michael Jordan’s final season with the Chicago Bulls, the basketball legend is the subject of ESPN’s highly-anticipated documentary The Last Dance.
This week, director Jason Hehir’s 10-part series premiered on Netflix and will be looking back on Jordan’s entire career while chronicling the Bulls’ efforts to win a sixth NBA title during the 1997-98 season.
While critics and fans alike have been abuzz about The Last Dance for months, demand for the docuseries reached fever pitch following Jordan’s emotional tribute to Kobe Bryant during the late basketball player’s memorial, Space Jam’s debut on Netflix in March, and the suspension of the current NBA season in the wake of Covid-19 and subsequent orders to shelter in place during the coronavirus outbreak across the globe.
The first two episodes of The Last Dance, which chronicles Jordan’s final championship season, with the 1998 Chicago Bulls, debuted on Netflix on Monday.
On each of the following four Sundays, a pair of new episodes will premiere on Netflix.
For a generation of fans who never witnessed Jordan or those Bulls teams live, the film will serve as a satisfying crash course on the MJ mystique. He first retired in his prime after his father’s tragic murder, shifted to playing baseball.
Then took a second forced retirement after ’98 because Bulls executives, for some still inexplicable reason, felt inclined to break up a team that did nothing but win and thrill the globe.
If Jordan existed in today’s Twitter-mad, media-saturated world, the unstable Internet would have already lost its collective mind.
The NBA shot more than 500 hours, a haul that sports documentarians had been lusting after for nearly two decades.
At the 2016 NBA All-Star Game in Toronto, producer Michael Tollin, co-chairman of Mandalay Sports Media, met with Jordan’s representative, Tollin pitched the project not as a documentary but as an event.
With the continued rise of streaming services that give the films a bingeable home after airing, the demand for such documentary has only grown.
Jordan, assured that the project would offer breathing room to share his full story, signed on.
The Last Dance also takes on the controversies, like Jordan’s penchant for gambling and aversion to politics.
He famously refused to endorse Harvey Gantt, the African-American Democrat from Jordan’s home state of North Carolina, in his 1990 Senate race against conservative Republican Jesse Helms, who opposed the Martin Luther King Day holiday.
“Republicans buy sneakers too,” said Jordan, whose Nike Air Jordan sneakers launched the concept of sports marketing into the stratosphere.
In the film, Jordan insists he made the statement in jest. Even Barack Obama, an unabashed Bulls fan, admits to the filmmakers he wished Jordan had publicly backed Gantt.