OPINION BY JULIA SWAIN
The clink of the bat. The slap of the ball against a mitt. The sound of a buzzer. These are the things that make the spring sports season great, and these are also the things that are being missed this year.
Spring, normally a time of optimism, has instead become a constant reminder at all that has changed and will continue to change due to Covid-19. While The Last Dance is not exactly what sports fans imagined as being the prime-time sports event of the spring, it has provided a source of familiarity and comfort in times where everything seems to be changing. The Last Dance is exactly what every sports fan needs right now, and here is why.
Michael Jordan has had many documentaries made about him over the years, but I believe that The Last Dance is the most unique and interesting of them all. While the main subject of the documentary is the 1997-1998 season (Jordan and the Chicago Bulls’ final championship season), the series also travels back to every major event from Jordan’s long and storied career as well as major events for his team as a whole. From his childhood growing up in North Carolina to his college days at the University of North Carolina under legendary coach Dean Smith to getting drafted 3rd overall by the Bulls in 1984, the documentary gives fans Jordan’s perspective from getting cut from his high school basketball team to becoming an NBA legend.
What is most impressive about this documentary is not the stories told or the interviews or even the soundtrack that gave it a 90s vibe, but it was how the stories were told. The documentary did an excellent job of keeping the audience engaged and interested while also telling a countless number of stories from Jordan’s career. While it may seem like it would be boring listening to a bunch of old guys telling stories from their glory days, the documentary made it interesting with excellent cinematography that shattered every preconceived notion I had about this documentary.
Also, Jordan was not the only person featured heavily in the documentary. Teammates Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman along with coach Phil Jackson and general manager Jerry Krause had plenty of Jordan stories to tell as well as a few of their own. The documentary did a great job of including everyone from the Bulls dynasty, not just Jordan. It also did a fantastic job of telling stories about things off the court as well, which is often missing from sports documentaries. This documentary was really something else and it provided a place for sports fans to go to every Sunday night to get a much needed escape from the stresses of Covid-19.
The stories told were not all sunshine and rainbows (or wins and championships in the Bulls’ case), however. From James Jordan’s (Micheal’s father) murder to the drama surrounding things like Jordan’s gambling problem and Pippen’s struggles with his contract, the documentary detailed the difficulties that surrounded the Bulls as well as the successes, which just added to the suspense and excitement.
While this documentary was not perfect by any means, it did what it was supposed to do. It provided an escape and a sense of familiarity that a re-play of an old baseball game or some recycled NBA playoff game could not provide. The Last Dance was truly what every sports fan, young and old, needed during this difficult time.
If you did not catch the documentary on ESPN, Netflix will be releasing the full documentary on July 19, 2020 for all fans to watch, and if you did miss it, I highly suggest giving it a shot.
Finally in the words of Jordan himself,
“I just want the franchise, the Chicago Bulls to be respected as a team, like the Lakers or the Philadelphia 76ers or the Boston Celtics.”
And respected they became.