The Best of the Last Dance (So Far)

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1. It’s created worldwide online water cooler moments

In a socially distanced world that’s become even more Netflix-ised than usual (you’re watching Tiger King, I’m watching After Life) this has become a unifying subject. The Last Dance is being drip fed to us (two eps at at time) on a weekly basis, primarily because the documentary wasn’t finished and has been fast-tracked.

Consequently, it’s become ‘appointment viewing’ (albeit on various devices rather than the family TV) like Seinfeld, The Wire, The Sopranos or Breaking Bad and any number of great shows when they were first broadcast. And then the next day’s discussion, while not around an actual water cooler (anyone remember them?) is something millions around the world can participate in.

2. There’s something for everyone

For someone who’s my age and saw Jordan in his prime, this is a reminder and a refresher of how great he was and how frustrating it was to be a fan of the Knicks or the Jazz (or in my case, the Trail Blazers) in the era of the all-conquering Bulls.

For younger viewers, this is an opportunity to see the NBA in a different time – ‘look he killed him and there was no foul called!’ – and to see this often-talked about icon in the prime of his basketball life.

For non-sports fans or non-basketball fans it’s a peak into another era – the fashions, the mullets – and a time when the Jordan Bulls were more like a travelling circus than a basketball team.

3. The Music is f-ing awesome

As if we weren’t blown away enough by the story, the access and the characters, we’re now starting to realise that the soundtrack is as good as the rest of the documentary. Beastie Boys, Outkast, LL Cool J, A Tribe Called Quest to name a few…all perfectly paired with particular storylines and all typical of that period in the 1990’s.

4. The priceless behind-the scenes footage

The Last Dance has given us a remarkable look at an unbelievable period in American (and world) sports. The locker room scenes don’t necessarily reveal anything earthshattering…but they provide a peek into the inner sanctum of a special group of individuals.

Ironically, as interesting as it his to hear Jordan and Pippen talk about Jerry Krause, some of the real gold comes from things like Jordan betting with his security guards about who can pitch a quarter closest to the wall or Jerry Seinfeld getting a cold shoulder from Phil Jackson.

5. Scottie Pippen & Dennis Rodman

Some fascinating insights into both men, including the fact that neither were stars from the get-go, but rather had to work incredibly hard (also helped to have massive growth spurts) to get to the NBA.

Pippen’s bad contract was a fascinating talking point, and of course Rodman’s antics – the ‘Dennis needs a vacation’ storyline is possibly the most unique in the history of championship teams – are still mind-blowing.

6. Jordan’s Interviews

He seems relaxed, willing to open up and be honest. Maybe it’s the glass of scotch next to him in the one setup. Showing him interviews on an iPad is a proven winner as a filmmaking technique and works brilliantly in a couple of different instances.

7. The importance of the Open-Minded Coach

There is a theme throughout the first few episodes that illustrates the genius of coaches willing to embrace different ways of thinking. Jordan’s college coach, the late, great Dean Smith actually encouraged him to enter the draft, rather than return for his senior season.

The late, great Chuck Daly understood Dennis Rodman, gave him his space and helped him grow. And of course, Phil Jackson, the thinker/philosopher/historian and coach, somehow walked a line between Jordan, Pippen, Rodman and Jerry Krause to help create some of the greatest teams in history.

8. The Dream Team

Although the footage of Jordan and Magic trash talking each other during the infamous practice session in Monaco has been seen before, it still resonates. The backstory surrounding the dislike of Toni Kukoc (thanks to Krause) was fascinating and the scene in the Barcelona taxi where Jordan says Reebok’s in for ‘a big surprise’ as he plans to cover up their logo at the medal ceremony is astonishing.

9. The Rise & Fall of Jerry Krause

There’s no doubt the short, rotund Krause was a team-building genius. The ability to construct a world champion from a battered franchise (ok, he did have the greatest player in the world) the way he did took a special ability. But his ego and his arrogance – as well as the ‘greatest organisation in the world’ myopia – eventually led to the dismantling of a juggernaut and a less-than-stellar legacy.

10. Kobe

It’s still hard to believe that Kobe is no longer with us, and The Last Dance has several reminders of just how special Bryant was. There’s Jordan in the All Star game locker room talking about Bryant’s aggression on offense, there are some great shots of their on-court battles and finally there’s a brief, but eye-opening interview with the late superstar where he says about Jordan: “What you get from me is from him. I don’t get five championships without him.”

 

 

 

What do you think?