Given the unprecedented circumstances surrounding the release of ESPN and Netflix’s “The Last Dance,” it is safe to say that the release of the ten-part series was one of the most highly anticipated documentaries of all time. For many, including myself, the first four parts of the series did not disappoint. While it goes without saying, many SPOILERS lie ahead.
The first part highlights Michael Jordan’s college career at North Carolina, as well as his first few years with the Bulls. Part two, however, is where things got very interesting. The second part goes into detail about Scottie Pippen’s ankle injury suffered prior to the 98 season, in which he, arguably, delayed having surgery on it due to an ongoing feud with GM Jerry Krause. We also find out that Pippen was one of the lowest-paid players on the Bulls roster that season, which is completely unbelievable given how talented he was. The low contract stems from a long term deal signed by Pippen for less money because he wanted the security of being in the NBA for a long time, as he had a history of back trouble, Personally, I can see why Pippen agreed to this deal, and I believe that Krause should have restructured his contract years prior to the 1998 season.
Adding to the drama of the second episode was the interview with Michael Jordan, who described Pippen as “selfish” in that moment, putting himself over the team. While that may appear controversial, I liked the fact that the documentary featured the players speaking their minds about one another, and it shows that even though a team may seem cohesive and successful on the outside, there is often something going on behind closed doors.
Episodes three and four focused on the Bulls rivalry in the late 80s and early 90s with the “Bad Boys” – the Detroit Pistons, and how it shaped their championship run. The two teams engaged in a heated, physical rivalry that looks completely unreal given how much the NBA has softened since then, with the Pistons coming out on top most often. It was interesting to see just how much the Pistons hated Jordan, and how MJ’s hatred of them lingers to this day. Overall, this shows that no matter how successful a team may be, there is always that initial hurdle that must be overcome to reach new heights. Episodes five and six air this Sunday, and it will be exciting to see where the show moves from here.
Riley Dulin – Sports Editor