Thursday, July 23, 2020

The Last Dance

After finishing the first season of Saturday Night Live, I started watching The Last Dance while running on the treadmill.  The ten part series highlights the career of Michael Jordan with particular focus on his last season with the Chicago Bulls.  The documentary uses never-before aired footage from the 1997/98 Bulls season.

The episodes include: 
  • Episode I - Flashbacks chronicle Michael Jordan's college and early NBA days [drafted in 1984]. The Bulls make a preseason trip to Paris amid tension with GM Jerry Krause.
  • Episode II - Scottie Pippen [drafted in 1987] rises to become one of the NBA's best players. An injury early in Jordan's career shows distrust with Bulls management. Jordan broke his foot at the beginning of the 1985/86 season.
  • Episode III - Dennis Rodman's attitude and energy help the team win, but bring the drama off the court.  Rodman played for the Bulls 1995/96, 1996/97 and 1997/98 championship teams.  The Bulls struggle to overcome the Pistons in the late '80s.  The Bulls lost to the "Bad Boys" Pistons in the 1988/89 and 1989/90 Eastern Conference Finals.
  • Episode IV - Phil Jackson's unique philosophy and demeanor take the Bulls to the next level.  Jackson starting coaching the Bulls in the 1989/90 season.  The team finally gets past Detroit and earns a shot at an NBA title, which is a dream matchup against Magic Johnson, Rookie Vlade Divac and the Lakers.
  • Episode V - From Air Jordan and Be Like Mike to the 1992 NBA Finals and the Olympic dream team, Michael becomes a global cultural icon unlike any other.  Toni Kukoč plays for Croatia against the Dream Team.  Bulls beat the Trailbazers in the finals [Clyde Drexler, Ainge].
  • Episode VI - A revealing book--Jordan Rules--and scrutiny of his gambling put a dent in Michael's reputation, but he remains focused on winning a third straight title in 1993. Bulls beat Phoenix Suns [Barkley, Ainge, Kevin Johnson].
  • Episode VII - Crushed by the death of his father, a mentally exhausted Michael retires in 1993 – to play baseball. The Bulls move on with Scottie in the lead role.
  • Episode VIII - Michael's return energizes the Bulls, the city and the NBA, but a playoff loss in the second round to the Orlando Magic [Shaq, Hardaway, Horace Grant] in 1995 fuels him to work harder than ever to get back on top; this is rewarded with their fourth NBA championship over Seattle [Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp] in 1996, after a record-breaking 72-win season.
  • Episode IX - The Bulls face stiff challenges to their reign in 1997 against Utah and in 1998 versus Indiana. The Bulls beat Utah [Karl Malone, John Stockton] to five their fifth championship.  Role player Steve Kerr makes his mark on the dynasty.
  • Episode X - Battered and exhausted, the Bulls conclude their "Last Dance" with a sixth championship over the Jazz [Marlone, Stockton]. Michael, Phil, and others reflect on the end of their dynasty.
This documentary is very good.  I recommend it.  Recent interviews with the key people, including Jordan, make the film particularly powerful.

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