By Aris Barkas/ email@example.com
With four episodes down and six more to go, it goes without saying that you can’t be considered a basketball fan without seeing “The Last Dance”. Not only this documentary is the talk of the basketball world during the COVID-19 epidemic, but it presents all the odds and ends of the most transformative era not only of basketball but in sports in general.
The emergence of Jordan and the Bulls coincided with an era in which technology made globalization a reality. And Michael Jordan was without a doubt one of the first global sports icons that the public was able to follow closely from every far corner of the earth.
And what Millenials don’t understand is that it wasn’t always like this. For the first time during the nineties, it was possible for the NBA to be broadcasted live globally on a consistent basis and the internet was making baby steps. Believe it or not, in Europe during the 80s, one of the main sources to watch NBA games was a company named “PonTel”, which was mailing VHS tapes – google it – for a fee mainly to basketball professionals.
In the first four episodes of the “Last Dance” which have already been aired both in the States and in Europe, the documentary explores Jordan, Pippen, Rodman, and Jackson, the core of the Bulls‘ dynasty. It also establishes GM Jerry Krause and to a lesser extend owner Jerry Reisdorf as the “villains” of the story.
However, as the narration continues and the jumps back and forth in the Bulls timeline are constant, it’s clear that there’s a lot of grey areas presented in this documentary that doesn’t try to sugar coat anything.
Eurohoops had the chance to already watch episodes five and six, thanks to the NBA and Netflix, and it only gets better. Don’t expect easy answers in the GOAT debate, or a cleaned-up presentation of events which in most cases are already well documented and reported by some of the best sports journalists ever.
The documentary uses the Bulls and Michael Jordan as the vehicle to explain the transformation of the NBA and sports to a multimillion business, from the wild eighties to the golden nineties and the Bulls iconic dynasty. In doing that, you also get to know all the key events that happened in the league from 1984 until the late nineties.
The non-seen before footage from the 1997-98 season gives the details that explain a lot of what was going on in planes, locker rooms, and arenas’ corridors. And as always the devil is on the details with Jordan being a dominating figure, Rodman appearing to practice wearing pajamas and cranky Pippen at his hotel room.
There’s more to that and since Eurohoops has an international angle, it gets even more satisfying for European fans in episode five. The time jump this time goes to the summer of 1992 and you can guess the rest.
Things, however, get even more interesting and take a darker turn in episode six, which turns again the focus almost exclusively to Michael Jordan.
Since this is a spoiler-free review, don’t expect any more revelations. And you don’t really need them. If you are young and want to understand why Jordan defined not just an era, but the sport of basketball, this is an obligatory watch.
And if you are old enough to remember all those stories, then you will be more than moved by watching again the heyday of the NBA.