In this period of no sports, or worse (in my opinion, after all you already know how the game ends) replays of games of various sports, this mini-series is a very welcome reprieve.
“The Last Dance” is a special televised mini-series on ESPN for two hours on Sunday evenings, over five weeks.
Yep, a 10-hour sports documentary looking at the 1997-1998 Chicago Bulls looking at Michael Jordan (MJ), Scotty Pippin, Dennis Rodman, Steve Kerr, Phil Jackson, Jerry Krause and many more.
There are comments from other players, coaches, Presidents Clinton and Obama.
The first two hours of programming was shown on Sunday, April 19 and the second round of episodes were broadcast on April 26, drawing in over 5.6 million viewers.
For those born after 2000, this team made history by becoming the only team to three-peat twice by winning NBA championships, not to mention all the individual records set by the players, especially Jordan.
The special looks at behind-the-scenes antics, politics and maneuverings made by teams, players and those in the front offices.
There is plenty of on-court action, plus unaired footage from the Bull’s final season with Jordan, Jackson and other Bulls players.
It was great to see glimpses of Jordan’s early life before he became a famous NBA star.
For instance, he didn’t make his sophomore Wilmington, N.C. high school basketball team because he was too short, but then he shot up four inches in one summer.
He worked hard on his skills to add to his natural talents in order to make the team the next year.
Many colleges courted him, but he stayed in North Carolina attended UNC and played under renown college coach, Dean Smith.
In between the Bulls two three-peats, Jordan had retired and signed a minor league baseball contract with the Chicago White Sox.
His father had been murdered in a North Caroline rest area about three months previous and that surely had a major effect on Jordan, as they were very close.
We were living in North Carolina at the time, just about 40 miles from that rest area, which is located in a swampy area of the Lumberton River, on I-95.
The murder reverberated throughout the Carolinas and eventually two teenagers were caught and prosecuted.
During this minor league baseball segment, I was invited to play in a Michael Jordan Invitational at Pinehurst Golf Club.
I got to play only because of the business I was associated with, not because of any golf skill on my part.
In fact, based on the number of divots created (I fixed them as I went), I worried they would paint my golf clubs “John Deere green” instead of the nightly polish the club did each night.
But I digress.
The story line of “The Last Dance” continues to be captivating.
The players and coaches are surprisingly open and honest about how they felt and how they adapted to changing circumstances.
It is interesting to see and hear how Jordan had become the fourth richest African-American behind Robert F. Smith, David Steward and Oprah Winfrey.
Even at this point, his estimated yearly income from endorsements is to be over $40 million.
Jordan continues to be a popular figure even today and a very generous man, lending his name to help raise funds and donating to many charities, recently donating $1 million to aid hurricane recovery in the Bahamas.
“The Last Dance” is a welcome relief in this period of no fresh sports on TV, and of course, having Jordan as part of the focus doesn’t hurt.
After all as Magic Johnson said “There’s Michael Jordan and then there is the rest of us.”
Rick G. Thielen lives in Grove, Oklahoma and enjoys sharing observations and ruminations on life around him.