Few athletes have outgrown their sport to become globally recognisable names – Diego Maradona, David Beckham and of course Michael Jordan. Called the GOAT for a reason, this behind-the-curtain miniseries had unlimited access to MJ’s last season with the Chicago Bulls in the late ‘90s. On the court, Jordan was a monster, but it’s off the court where this 10-part-drama hits hardest.
As one of the most dominant basketball franchises of all time goes for its second Three-Peat (three back to back NBA Championships) in the 97-98 finals, some of those upstairs in the club are doing their best to break down the team and rebuild for the future. Unsurprisingly, this isn’t received well by players or fans – you rebuild a team when it’s washed, not when it’s head and shoulders above every other team in the league.
General Manager of the Bulls – Jerry Krause also stated that coach Phil Jackson would not be returning after the 97-98 season and Jordan himself had publicly said he would refuse to play for the Bulls under another coach. Krause remained undeterred on his decision, as did MJ. Krause also added that if Michael leaves that it is “ultimately his decision.”
Elsewhere, MJ’s number two – small forward Scottie Pippen is integral to the team and enables Jordan to play his natural game. Unfortunately, he’s only the 122nd highest player in the league due to a contract he signed years before. He can’t get out of this or renegotiate improved terms, so Pippen refused to play for several months as a protest from the sidelines. This meant that teammate Dennis Rodman had to pick up the slacks, and while he remains one of the NBA’s best rebounders of all time, he was no doubt a complex teammate.
At one-point Rodman asked for a vacation in Vegas, exhausted from the games and the pressure. He was granted 48 hours, but three days later he’s still not back at training…Jordan had to drive to his apartment to drag him from his bed, while Rodman’s girlfriend Carmen Electra hid behind the sofa.
Across the 10-episodes there’s multiple time skips back to the early ‘80s and ‘90s. They shine light on Jordan’s gambling “problem”, his initial reluctance to sign with Nike, the supposed bullying of team-mates and the shocking disappearance and murder of his father in 1993, which led him to retire from the league for the first time and take up baseball.
It’s an often dizzying journey with many ups and downs but what can’t be argued though, is this is hands-down the best look you’re going to get at the greatest to ever step out on the court and revisit (or witness for the first time) the moments that made MJ a win-at-any-means machine on the hardwood.
Not caught it yet? Catch the entire series of The Last Dance over on Netflix now. It’ll almost certainly make up for the lack of live basketball happening at the minute, at a time that would usually be the NBA play-offs.
Pay homage to the GOAT and shop all things Jordan over at JD right now.