A deep dive into behind the scenes story of the legendary Chicago Bulls, The Last Dance is a roller coaster ride not to be missed by any sports fan!!
Michael Jordan is one of the most influential sports icons of all time and his Chicago Bulls team of the 90’s is one of the greatest ever NBA dynasties. The last Dance serves as a fitting tribute to both Jordan and the legendary Bulls team. What makes it even more compelling is the way it is presented; a deep dive into the behind the scenes story of the Bulls. The show director Jason Hehir has shown some gripping narrative skills along with inputs from a galore of legends of the game and eminent personalities. Those times were recreated so brilliantly that we feel the passion, the sweat, the tension and elation just like witnessing an exhilarating sports event.
The show begins with the end of 1997 season where the Bulls cruised to to their 5th NBA title in 7 years. But everything was not well internally. The tension between the management, the coach and players have turned for the bad when the management decided to rebuild the team next season. However, the general manager Jerry Krause handed the coach Phil Jackson another season before his departure at the end of the season. Jordan confirmed he wouldn’t play for Bulls if Phil departs, Scottie Pippen was not offered a new contract and was seriously underpaid in his previous contract. Amidst all the internal conflicts and prevailing uncertainty over their future with the Bulls, they were going for a remarkable 6th title in 8 years. Every season they had a theme for what they were fighting for and that season Phil named it ‘The Last Dance’. The show airs never-before-shown footages of Bull’s 1997-98 season, remarkably captivating our senses, thanks to decision of giving an all-access pass to a film crew to shoot the games and the dressing room.
It covers the locker room tensions, internal conflicts and backstage drama in extensive detail along with some breathtaking on-field action. It takes inputs from Bulls team of that time- Hall of Famers Jordan, Scottie Pippen, coach Phil Jackson and major players like Dennis Rodman, Steven Kerr etc. and their legendary counterparts like Magic Johnson, Isiah Thomas, and Larry Bird and major jounalists and even politicians like Obama and Clinton. Sometimes, the show intensely captures the ego between the players and their counterparts. Other times, this is done in a very light hearted way. The players were shown the recordings of other players occasionally. Getting to see their reactions when they learn about other perspectives of a particular incident, were really some of the high points of this series.
Stunning levels of details and expertise are on show here with even a novice like me will be able to admire the masterful explanations about the game. The importance of each positions, players and team play are intriguingly explained. The triangle offence style and its explanation is a remarkable example of how the show gave huge importance to the game as a whole. Coming to the on-field action, the footages are edited so brilliantly and gives us opportunity of witnessing some breathtaking basketball action. The team huddles, the instant strategies, motivations and celebrations are all truly adrenaline pumping.
Michael Jordan is at the heart of this documentary, and may be quite rightly gets the maximum time on air. It showcases his superstardom, his unbelievable growth from high school ranks, his relationship with fellow players, some untold background storiesand also gives gives him chance to explain a lot of controversies. We get to see Jordan as a whole, both on and off the pitch. The winning mentality that he managed to cultivate in his team mates, the remarkable lengths he would go to get the best out of them, the fascinating journey of Jordan, Pippen and coach Phil to build a mediocre Bulls team to a legendary outfit were all remarkably captured. Though Jordan is the man of the show, it never undermines the importance of other key figures. For instance, it gives an exclusive episode for Pippen and We hear from Jordan himself that, “There is no Michael Jordan without Scottie Pippen. Everybody says I won all these championships. But I didn’t without Scottie Pippen. That’s why I consider him my greatest teammate of all-time.”
All of the major players’ initial struggles, their family background, the beginning of their careers are covered. We get to hear from their own family and friends, giving some heartfelt emotions. Jordan’s relationship with his father and his security guard, Pippen’s family background, Kerr’s loss of his father in his childhood and of course the small tribute to Kobe Bryant were some of the moving episodes in this otherwise electrifying sports series.
The music is another killer here, the breathtaking actions are elevated massively by the tracks. In episode 1, while Michael Jordan was rising to dominance in his early days surprising everyone, “I Ain’t no joke” by Eric B and Rakim was playing in the background. The bulls were hammered over the years by fierce rivals Detroit Pistons and we truly feel the pain of Bull’s each lose. In episode 4, when the Bulls finally overpowered the Pistons by sweeping them, Kool Moe Dee’s “How Ya Like Me now” pumps our adrenaline. Such was the impact of music tracks and the makers nails it with each and every track.
The legendary Chicago Bulls team were crippled after 1998 season after the coach and major players were left out for a rebuild and the irony is that they are still rebuilding that team even after 22 years. To conclude, The Last Dance is a remarkable show, a roller coaster ride not to be missed by anyone who loves sports.
Streaming on : Netflix