When I was a young, I played basketball every single day. One of the most common things that happened on the court was someone shooting a fadeaway jump shot while simultaneously yelling “Jordan!” While this eventually evolved into “Kobe” (R.I.P. Black Mamba), everyone acknowledges that it all started with Jordan.
The Last Dance is a masterpiece; the Sistine chapel of NBA documentaries, detailing one of the most amazing stories in basketball history, the career of Michael Jordan. He is the undisputed NBA G.O.A.T. (greatest of all time - baaaa!), one of the most prolific athletes in any professional sport, and a brand in and of himself. The Last Dance tells the tale of his final season in a Chicago Bulls jersey. This docuseries is enhanced by exclusive media access to the 1997-98 Bulls. Jordan’s marketing team has been letting this content simmer for over 20 years before releasing this perfectly seasoned “publicity stunt.” Many believe the timing of this release (April 2020) is intentional, serving as a clear reminder of Jordan’s greatness to people of this era, especially those that claim Lebron James has surpassed Jordan.
ESPN (and later Netflix) released this 10-episode epic that explores how Jordan became a champion and sustained that success for a decade. The docuseries details the Chicago Bulls before fame and after obscurity in an astonishing fashion. Here are some of my favorite moments. Before Jordan, the Bulls were known as the “travelling cocaine circus.” Throughout his experience, team management fought with its own players and coaches (inevitably leading to one of the best teams in the league dismantling itself). Head Coach Phil Jackson integrated bizarre personalities like Dennis Rodman into the team’s chemistry. The Bulls played against some of the most intense and physical basketball teams in history, such as Patrick Ewing’s Knicks, Reggie Miller’s Pacers, and (most notorious of all) the “Bad Boyz” Pistons. Jordan established the biggest shoe empire in the world, which only happened because his parents forced him to meet with the young upstart: Nike. Jordan and Pippen played against ex-teammates and future teammates, and even with the Olympic Dream Team (best basketball team ever assembled?). The media questioned Jordan’s gambling habit (addiction?). Jordan’s career was tumultuous; the documentary highlights his early retirement, the loss of his father, discord with teammates in practice, and his dominance in highly volatile situations. Michael Jordan’s unbendable spirit transformed one of the worst franchises in basketball into one of the most beloved teams of all time.
The Last Dance is the most in-depth study of Michael Jordan’s career ever released and an accessible watch for even the most casual fans of basketball or documentaries. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people who don’t watch basketball tell me how much they enjoyed this docuseries. Jordan’s faith in his teammates, his goal, and himself are admirable and even inspiring for us as Christians. (Rated TV-MA for language. ESPN/Netflix)