The Last Dance is a ten-episode docuseries co-produced by ESPN and Netflix that follows the Chicago Bulls during their sixth championship in 1997. It blends on-court action of the most notable players in the league with the background politics and tensions of the Bulls themselves.
The series is directed by Jason Hehir, who has worked on a plethora of different sports documentaries including 30 for 30 and The Fab Five and knows how to get the best out of his material. Heir highlights fascinating moments of conflict throughout The Last Dance, whether it be with the players or with the executives.
There are glimpses of Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman and Steve Kerr. Then there’s the man who provided the brilliant coaching, Phil Jackson. He was the father figure of the team in every way possible way. Jackson and Jerry Krause, the Bulls’ General Manager during the end of 1996 continually butted heads. Krause was very upfront with his choice to drop Jackson as head coach moving into the sixth season. This is where most of the issues rose. After a significant amount of pressure from higher-ups, Jackson made a commitment to the league and the players to coach one last year. What was the play called? The Last Dance.
Of course, you can’t talk about the Chicago Bulls without discussing Michael Jordan, whose career has always been looked at through a microscope. Being one of the greats comes preconceived notions. M.J was interviewed to set the record straight about these rumours. Through this journey, you get an inside understanding from M.J about what was true and what was false. The Bulls team atmosphere was a difficult one. Teammates often had moments of tension. This came from Michael’s need for perfection on the court. There was absolutely no room for mistakes. Many times, M.J would size other teammates up to see if they had what it took to be on the best team at the time. A physical altercation of significance was with Steve Kerr and Jordan which led to Kerr getting punched in the face. Surprisingly after that day, the teammates bonded exponentially.
There are tons of newly found basketball fans cough cough* who knew the stature of the Chicago Bulls is the nineties but not previously aware of the magnitude this team had in culture until this day that radiates even until today. The Last Dance is a great way to deliver the history of the time to newer fans or those from a different generation. The archival footage is beautifully restored. The audio is immersive, and the interviews are captivating. I would recommend this series for any basketball fan.