ESPN’s 10-part documentary “The Last Dance” debuted to the masses on the weekend that was originally scheduled to be the start of the 2020 NBA postseason. The untold story of Michael Jordan’s final season with the Chicago Bulls has been one of the most highly anticipated viewing events of the past several years. It arrived at a time when, due to the coronavirus pandemic, many around the world are encouraged to stay home.
“The Last Dance,” which chronicles Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls final championship season in 1997-98, was originally scheduled for June, but was moved up in response to call from fans. The Bulls allowed an NBA Entertainment crew to follow them around for that entire season, and some of that never-before-seen footage will be in the documentary.
“I had forgotten until tonight it was possible the Bulls might have never had a “Last Dance” in 1997-98 at all,” said ESPN basketball commentator Kevin Pelton. “The possibility of Jackson being let go as coach and Jordan retiring in the summer of 1997 seems unthinkable now.
“Not only would that have deprived Chicago a sixth and final title, it also would have prevented Jordan from concluding his Bulls career with one of the most memorable shots in NBA history. Thank goodness cooler heads prevailed and Jackson and Jordan returned to lead one more run that we’ll continue reliving over the next month.”
“The Last Dance” is a rare look inside Jordan’s world. It unfurls some revealing details and telling anecdotes of an emotion-charged final season in which history repeated itself, with the drama, the jealousy and the infighting leading to the disintegration of the Bulls all over again.
Many consider Jordan to be the greatest basketball player of all time. He won six titles with Chicago in two separate three-peats. He played 15 seasons in the league, and the only year he wasn’t an All-Star was the partial season, when he returned from a hiatus playing minor league baseball. He won the scoring title a record 10 times, was the league MVP five times and Finals MVP a record six times.
Jordan wasn’t just about scoring, however: He was named to the All-Defensive Team nine times. He did it all with a unique style that combined showmanship and respect for the game. His early years were known more for his athletic drives to the hoop — he won the dunk contest in 1987 and ’88. But the hyper-competitive Jordan didn’t let his game stall. He evolved to the point that in Game 1 of the 1992 Finals against the Blazers, Jordan hit six 3-pointers in the first half to put Portland on its heels on the way to a Bulls win.
Taking over the mantle of the NBA after Larry Bird and Magic Johnson put it back on the map, Air Jordan took the league to new heights, and his popularity transcended the game. His line of shoes with Nike became must-haves in the ’80s and ’90s and are still popular today. In 1992, he teamed with Bird and Magic on the Dream Team to crush the competition at the Olympics.
Many current NBA players — such as LeBron James — cite Jordan as the player they looked up to when they were starting their basketball journeys.
Jordan, 57, is currently the owner of the Charlotte Hornets.
“Michael Jordan and the ’90s Bulls weren’t just sports superstars, they were a global phenomenon,” director Jason Hehir said in a statement. “Making ‘The Last Dance’ was an incredible opportunity to explore the extraordinary impact of one man and one team. For nearly three years, we searched far and wide to present the definitive story of an era-defining dynasty and to present these sports heroes as humans. I hope viewers enjoy watching our series as much as we enjoyed the opportunity to make it.”
Here’s a guide to the 1990s Chicago Bulls dynasty for those who didn’t experience it as it happened — and for those who need a refresher on the six-time NBA champions. Episode ` and 2, which ran April 19 will repeat, so don’t worry if your missed them but be prepared to join in next Sunday.
Sunday, April 26
7 p.m. ET | Re-air of “The Last Dance” Episode 1
8 p.m. ET | Re-air of “The Last Dance” Episode 2
9 p.m. ET | Premiere of “The Last Dance” Episode 3
10 p.m. ET | Premiere of “The Last Dance” Episode 4
Sunday, May 3
7 p.m. ET | Re-air of “The Last Dance” Episode 3
8 p.m. ET | Re-air of “The Last Dance” Episode 4
9 p.m. ET | Premiere of “The Last Dance” Episode 5
10 p.m. ET | Premiere of “The Last Dance” Episode 6
Sunday, May 10
7 p.m. ET | Re-air of “The Last Dance” Episode 5
8 p.m. ET | Re-air of “The Last Dance” Episode 6
9 p.m. ET | Premiere of “The Last Dance” Episode 7
10 p.m. ET | Premiere of “The Last Dance” Episode 8
Sunday, May 17
7 p.m. ET | Re-air of “The Last Dance” Episode 7
8 p.m. ET | Re-air of “The Last Dance” Episode 8
9 p.m. ET | Premiere of “The Last Dance” Episode 9
10 p.m. ET | Premiere of “The Last Dance” Episode 10