The Last Dance has undoubtedly changed the landscape for any sports documentary that follows it. Any sports documentary that follows, which gives audiences a deep dive, just won’t compare to Hehir’s latest project. The Last Dance goes beyond an in-depth look. I’ve yet to come up with an example of a sports documentary that gave us such a clear glimpse into the psychology of a particular subject or team. It’s not that we needed to know any more facts about Jordan (if anything, we know too much). What makes this series unique is we see the dynamic Jordan brought on everyone both on and off the court. If episodes 1-6 put The Last Dance in contention for an Emmy, this Sunday’s installment of ESPN’s highly rated series will win it for them. Here are my 5 takeaways from tonight’s episode.
5. His dad’s death and subsequent attempt to play baseball were just an example of escapism.
By the time Jordan had won his 3rd championship, he had run out of challenges and goals to achieve. He had already talked with this dad about walking away and playing baseball before the season had ended. I always thought that he left mostly in part because of his dad’s death, but it seems that was going to happen anyway. He was burnt out and needed a change of pace. Based on what they showed in episode 7, I can’t say that he made the wrong decision. Some of the writers in Chicago were trying to make a connection between his gambling habits and his dad’s death. The Last Dance does a great job of showing that this was an escape. The writers were trying to tear him down, and he couldn’t bring himself to play the very game his dad enjoyed watching him dominate.
4. Wow! Really?
While each of his teammates acknowledges Jordan’s greatness, ‘The Last Dance’ goes into great depth about how horrible Jordan was to be around day in and day out. Jordan states, “Some people might say he wasn’t a nice guy or he was a tyrant, but I guess you never wanted anything.” One would have to think his teammates were truthful to the point that it makes one wonder what they held back.
3. The Baseball Strike –
If hadn’t been for the baseball strike, we likely wouldn’t have seen Jordan return. He decided on wearing 45 at the beginning of his comeback because he viewed this as a new beginning and changed back into 23 more out superstition. He wasn’t himself, but the idea that he can help lead them to the East Conference Finals without being in “game” shape speaks volumes. While they got knocked out in the end by Orlando, it was Nick Anderson that truly lit a fire under Jordan with his quote, “45 isn’t 23.” The reactions in these moments are what have made The Last Dance special.
2. Jordan getting kicked out of practice –
All it took is for Steve Kerr to stand his ground and step to Jordan, and the greatest player of all time immediately began respecting him.
1. I love Jordan’s reaction to other players telling revisionist history.
There have been multiple instances of players attempting to revise history during this documentary, and Hehir made a brilliant move by showing it to Jordan then getting his first reaction on tape. He did this with Isaiah Thomas, which fired him up, and the one with Gary Payton left him laughing.
What do you think of The Last Dance so far? What was your favorite episode so far?