Whether it’s teaming up with Bugs Bunny to defeat aliens, or entertaining a country stuck in quarantine, Michael Jordan always saves the day. The epic 10-part documentary titled The Last Dance could not have come at a better time. Unless you count German soccer or Korean baseball, we haven’t seen any live team sports since March.
Sports fans everywhere have been thirsting for something to get our juices flowing. The documentary gave us something to look forward to on Sunday nights and spurred a giant internet discussion on something besides the virus. So, one last time, let’s highlight some of the best parts of the documentary.
The biggest winner in all of this is Michael Jordan.
Leading up to the first episode, he told Robin Roberts that he was worried the documentary would make him look bad. That could not be further from the truth. Sure, he torched his teammates, made fun of Jerry Krause, and kept an enemies list longer than Richard Nixon’s – but this documentary did an excellent job of showing the price of being the greatest basketball player of all time.
A whole new generation of fans learned why Michael Jordan is considered beyond reproach in basketball discussions. Plus, it refueled his number one business – selling sneakers. Lebron James’ quest for overtaking Jordan just got even more difficult.
My favorite component of the documentary was the behind the scenes footage of Jordan interacting with his teammates. Whether on the floor, in the plane, or sitting in the locker room – the team revolved around #23.
Pippen, Kerr, Rodman, Paxson, and the rest of the team still revere Jordan after all these years. Even at that time, some of them took to wearing over-sized Italian suits and sporting funny facial hair. The front office deserves a lot of blame for letting things fall apart, but their vision for putting the right role players around Jordan is unquestionable.
At the end of episode 7, Jordan started tearing up when explaining why he demanded so much from his teammates. Although I don’t think we should be giving people the Scott Burrell treatment, there is something to be learned from his lessons in leadership and accountability.
Jordan feuded with everybody. The media, the bad boy Pistons, Dan Majerle, LaBradford Smith, Gary Payton, Reggie Miller, and Byron Russell, to name a few. For two decades, Jordan took note of every slight, every comment, every sign of disrespect and used it as fuel for his raging competitive drive.
Seeing the young-Bulls breakthrough against the Pistons was nothing short of inspirational. The big, bad bully was finally beaten, only to slink away with time still left on the clock. Those episodes of the documentary should be mandatory viewing in schools across the country.
Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Carmen Electra, Justin Timberlake, and a plethora of media personalities. Jordan was bigger than basketball, his personality transcended sports and bled into American culture. Although this documentary did a good job of providing context, it’s one of those things that you just had to be there to understand.
Let’s end this on a lighter note. I don’t know why but watching Jordan’s reaction to seeing snippets of other’s interviews was comedy gold. The crying Jordan meme had a good run in 2017, but there were so many funny moments that will be repurposed into memes for months if not years to come. Unfortunately, most of them contain very explicit language not meant for this website.
There is still so much to unpack and discuss from this compendium of content. The music, the worm, the zen master. The makers of The Last Dance did an excellent job of capturing the nostalgia and the controversies surrounding the one-of-a-kind athlete. Before anyone under the age of 30 starts to detract from Michael Jordan, they must watch all 10 hours of this documentary, and even that might still not be enough to fully understand how much his airness means to the world.
Pat Benson has been a sideline reporter, P.A. announcer, and radio personality. Tweet him @Pat_Benson_Jr.