If you’re like me, you’ve been craving sports. Any morsel of competition or news has to be consumed immediately, with hopes of more to follow.
It’s been hard to come by. I’ve watched marble racing online, flipped on some NASCAR iRaces and completely devoured the first round of the NFL Draft Thursday. It’s been dire on the sports landscape.
At least we have “The Last Dance.”
The ESPN documentary featuring the final season for Michael Jordan with the Chicago Bulls (1997-98) lived up to the hype which has been building for months. Showing some savvy, ESPN moved up the release two months for a sports-starved audience. The result was the highest-rated documentary in ESPN history, with over 6.5 million people watching last Sunday.
I would absolutely recommend it to anybody who likes sports. It’s not just for basketball fans, NBA fans or Jordan fans. It’s good TV for basically anybody.
Not often do people get a behind-the-scenes look at how championship teams are constructed. In the Bulls’ case, it was more like deconstruction, even if it still resulted in a championship (sorry for the spoiler). It’s been amazing TV and we’re just two parts into what will be a 10-part, five-week feature.
A mythical figure like MJ doesn’t give everybody the inside scoop. Over the years, there have been a few bits and pieces which were released that gave everybody a glimpse at just how competitive he was – fighting Steve Kerr, berating teammates and, of course, the flu game (which would probably get crucified now because he had to be spreading germs).
Now, there’s a camera showing all of it.
In the first two hours, Jordan was shown wise-cracking on the team’s general manager Jerry Krause. Cast as the villain breaking up the championship Bulls, Krause takes Jordan’s endless jabs in stride. Jordan is often relentless too, showing his aura didn’t just exist on the court.
It’s all riveting television. In the last 10 years, I’ve had a chance to have that kind of access into many Pioneer sports. It’s why when I have people tell me what’s “really” going on or complain about coaching (or the lack of it as some people attest), I take it with a grain of salt. There’s nothing like seeing it with your own eyes.
I think that about high school athletics, which pale in comparison to what probably goes on at higher levels. I never would have imagined there would come a time where I could get that same kind of sneak peek behind the scenes for a professional team, much less a squad featuring perhaps the most popular athlete of all time.
We’re just scratching the surface in the documentary.
Last week’s cliffhanger was Scottie Pippen asking for a trade after going on a tirade on a team bus. It’ll be interesting to see how the Bulls patched it up (sorry, another spoiler). There’s also the enigma that is Dennis Rodman, supposedly the focus of this Sunday’s episode.
Take my word, this is one dance you don’t want to miss.