The Last Dance
One of the greatest aspects of documentary filmmaking is in the medium’s ability to knock at the fourth wall that exists between us and our news or entertainment, shedding light on the fact that amazing stories and incredible people exist in our own world. Certainly, this is the case with ESPN’s 10 episode docu-series ‘The Last Dance,’ chronicling the life and career of basketball legend, Michael Jordan.
Directed by Jason Hehir, the series tells the story of Jordan’s magnanimous rise from an NBA rookie drafted in 1984 by the Chicago Bulls, to the league’s all-star, ultimately earning the title, “Greatest Basketball Player of All Time;” Jordan’s career with the Bulls came to a head following the 1997-98 season and their 6th NBA championship, also referred to as the illustrious team’s ‘last dance.’ But moreover, within the story of the Bulls’ championship streak under Jordan’s reign, the show shines light on the personality, unbeatable talent, and personal hardships of basketball’s most celebrated star.
Throughout each episode, viewers are granted unchartered access into Jordan’s life on an off of the court, revealing a human side to the basketball legend, coupled with his unstoppable determination and drive to be on top. It was ultimately this competitive force at Jordan’s core that fueled not only his game, but his personal life. In ‘The Last Dance,’ we get the story – quite literally – of Jordan leaving it all on the court, culminating in the last game of his final season with the Bulls, when the man who always wanted another win choose to walk away.
Made up of never-before-seen footage from Jordan’s playing career with the Bulls, as well as exclusive interviews with his teammates, opponents, colleagues, and friends, the documentary’s release over two decades after his ‘last dance’ season could not have come at a more perfect time. The expository work has been smartly presented after the stories and first-hand accounts have cooled to memories for those who were a part of them, and the players have solidified as legends for those who watched it happen. But even more than this, ESPN and Hehir have told this incredible tale at a time when sports have been indefinitely paused in a world-wide pandemic. And as much as ‘The Last Dance’ is a gift to starving sports fans of the coronavirus, it is also a timeless tale of unparalleled competitive drive, athletic excellence, and raw humanness, all of which qualities the world needs more of today than ever before.