As I write this, I'm reminiscing of a different time - one before the Internet, social media, google, smart phones, Netflix and Tesla. One where we had walkman's and Discman's, recorded songs from the radio with our cassettes and collected CDs. We planned our lives around what was on TV because we didn't have PVRs or streaming services. One where the TV news, newspapers and magazines were popular, important and how we stayed up to date on what was happening in the world.
The 90s were a different time... a time where Michael Jordan was the king of basketball, we called our friends on the phone and waited all week for TGIF.
The Last Dance does such a good job of taking us back in time and immersing us in a period we may have forgotten or not have been alive for. While it showcases the 90s and what basketball and life was like then, it also shows us how somethings haven't changed.
I was born a few years after Michael Jordan started playing in the NBA and my first introduction to MJ was in 1996 through Space Jam.
After that, I played NBA Jam on my Sega Genesis and became fascinated with slam dunking and getting my basketball to catch on fire.
Slowly, I learned about the Chicago Bulls, Utah Jazz and Charlotte Hornets. When I was growing up, I actually thought they were the Charlottetown Hornets from the Maritimes in Canada. My uncle bought me a Utah Jazz hat in 1997 and I loved it because it was purple. True basketball bandwagoner forming at age 9.
I heard about The Last Dance from a sports show my husband watches. To be honest, I wasn't too excited to watch it. They very smartly released only two episodes each week to build anticipation and after the first episode, I was hooked. To the point where my husband had to prevent me from binging both episodes on Monday night. Every episode had me googling information about the NBA, a team, a player or a coach. Besides the super famous players who are relevant today, I hadn't heard of many of them. Or the Detroit Pistons for that matter.
The documentary chronicles Michael Jordan’s life and basketball career. What makes it unique and super interesting is that it flashes back and forth through the years. At one point you’re in 1985, then you are in 1998, then you go back to 1991 and come back to the present day. It profiles a different player, topic or era in each episode and how they relate to Jordan and/or The Bulls journey. You are constantly on the edge of your seat trying to connect the dots and figure out what time period you are in and how the episode feature information fits into the whole story.
The whole series has 10 episodes, in Roman Numerals from I - X. Episode I is all about Jordan. It takes you back to his childhood, hometown and journey into the NBA. This one was absolutely fascinating. He was determined from the beginning to be the best basketball player who ever played. Episode II was one of my favourites and is about Scottie Pippen. He is such a good guy and worked so hard to make it to the NBA. Episode III/IV are about the Pistons. The Pistons were like school yard bullies. Basketball was so physical and aggressive in the 80s and early 90s. The Bulls were like the eager freshmen and the Pistons were the seasoned seniors. This is the first of a few rivalries for The Bulls.
Episode V is a special one and is a tribute to Kobe Bryant. Kobe started playing in the NBA at the end of Jordan's run with The Bulls. It also covers the Olympic Dream team and showing how Jordan popularized basketball around the world. The second half of the series covers a wide variety of other topics such as the drama and controversy around Jordan’s extracurricular activities and hobbies not related to basketball, Jordan's Dad, his first retirement, move to baseball, return to basketball and second basketball championship run. The documentary does a great job showcasing Jordan's commitment to basketball, being the best and his contributions to make the Chicago Bulls a winning team.
The Last Dance really highlighted what it takes to reach the level of greatness and popularity that Michael Jordan achieved. It was raw, honest and had interesting perspectives from other players, commentators, reporters, coaches and NBA administrators. It also showed the other side of basketball - the administration, bureaucracy and back office management. Even if you aren't a basketball fan, I think you will appreciate The Last Dance.