The Last Dance

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I audibly gasped when the first notes of Present Tense hit at the end. What an absolutely picture perfect song choice to end what was a phenomenal soundtrack for the whole series.

Incredible 10 episodes. So much to digest and relive, plus so much new material too. That was a blast to experience every week.
 

SemperFidelisSox

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Fantastic. They took a chance telling a story with two different timelines but it worked and all came together in the end. Best documentary ESPN has ever done.
 

bankshot1

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That was good tv, and jogged some memories.

The sequence in the '98 ECF where Reggie pushes off and hits go-ahead/winner, but leaves time for a shot, and Jordan rims out at the buzzer, so reminded me of the Magic/Bird sequence in the '87 Finals.

ouch
 

Doug Beerabelli

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I audibly gasped when the first notes of Present Tense hit at the end. What an absolutely picture perfect song choice to end what was a phenomenal soundtrack for the whole series.

Incredible 10 episodes. So much to digest and relive, plus so much new material too. That was a blast to experience every week.
I had same reaction. What an incredible song choice (EV being a Chicago guy, too), and video perfectly edited to the tempo and dynamic changes of the song.

Great series. And so great for me to watch it with my 14 year old son.
 

djbayko

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Wow. Saying some pizza joint in SLC food poisoned MJ
The way I see it is some kids tagged along because they knew the Bulls were staying at the Marriott and they thought they might get a glimpse of MJ or Scottie. I'm not doubting that it was food poisoning, but the trainer implying that it was intentionally poisoned is a little over the top.
 

DeJesus Built My Hotrod

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This level of detail and planning is what makes this series so brilliant.

The Jordan/Bird exchange was hilarious. Present Tense was sublime.
 
Steve Kerr is featured prominently in John Feinstein's A Season Inside, which covers the year (1987-88) that his Arizona team reached the Final Four - that was one of the books I repeatedly devoured as a kid. (I bought it for my father for Christmas and read it cover to cover on Christmas Eve before wrapping it up for him!) There's absolutely a documentary to be made about Kerr's life and career once he's ready; e.g., I think there was a game at Berkeley where the Cal students chanted "P-L-O! P-L-O!" at him. I think this series went about as far as it could have, and should have, with him in the context of a marginal figure in the Bulls dynasty, but he's really one of the more interesting people in basketball over the last 50 years.

I was kinda stunned that there was no footage at all of Games 5 and 6 of the Indiana series in Episode IX, and there were a few other points where the doc didn't quite land for me. But I started the series with no expectations and a general distaste for MJ, and yet I'm so glad I watched all 10 episodes. Sports documentaries have come a *long* way in the last decade.
 

67YAZ

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The thing that kills me about this film is the blow hard author they kept using as a talking head. In episode X he goes on and on about Michael being the most present person ever...when we have just watched 9 hours of the dude demonstrating that he is a legendary grudge holder. It’s touched like that which undermine the seriousness of the film.

But then there’s sequences like Kerr’s background or Pippen giving credit to Michael, Phil, & Krause that were so good.

Bomani Jones makes some nice points about Jordan being the encapsulation of the 1980’s ethos and how Jordan helped reshape the league into a partnership between star players and owners.
 

CantKeepmedown

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I had no idea about Kerr's father. Brutal
Karl Malone going onto the team bus to offer congratulations is not something I expected to see.
Fascinating to think about what it would have been like had they tried to go at it another year. I don't think Rodman played much after that season. And like MJ said, it would have been hard to convince Pippen to do it. But it everyone was on board, probably would have been tough for him to walk away. A 50 game season would have worked out well for them.
And maybe I'm biased, but the ending was fantastic. Great song selection with lyrics that really fit. A real fun watch and I'm sad it's over.
 

bosockboy

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Steve Kerr is featured prominently in John Feinstein's A Season Inside, which covers the year (1987-88) that his Arizona team reached the Final Four - that was one of the books I repeatedly devoured as a kid. (I bought it for my father for Christmas and read it cover to cover on Christmas Eve before wrapping it up for him!) There's absolutely a documentary to be made about Kerr's life and career once he's ready; e.g., I think there was a game at Berkeley where the Cal students chanted "P-L-O! P-L-O!" at him. I think this series went about as far as it could have, and should have, with him in the context of a marginal figure in the Bulls dynasty, but he's really one of the more interesting people in basketball over the last 50 years.

I was kinda stunned that there was no footage at all of Games 5 and 6 of the Indiana series in Episode IX, and there were a few other points where the doc didn't quite land for me. But I started the series with no expectations and a general distaste for MJ, and yet I'm so glad I watched all 10 episodes. Sports documentaries have come a *long* way in the last decade.
Kerr was definitely featured because they were setting up his championship winning shot.

I’m curious if Malone was approached to be in this. I read Stockton had to be really talked into it.
 

67YAZ

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I had no idea about Kerr's father. Brutal
Karl Malone going onto the team bus to offer congratulations is not something I expected to see.
Fascinating to think about what it would have been like had they tried to go at it another year. I don't think Rodman played much after that season. And like MJ said, it would have been hard to convince Pippen to do it. But it everyone was on board, probably would have been tough for him to walk away. A 50 game season would have worked out well for them.
And maybe I'm biased, but the ending was fantastic. Great song selection with lyrics that really fit. A real fun watch and I'm sad it's over.
The wife and I were blown away to see Malone on the bus. He’s just gotten beat in consecutive finals by that team. Just a short token before he got stripped by Jordan, which led to the winning bucket. But there he is on the Bulls’ bus shaking hands and congratulating his primary antagonist. Incredible.
 

Merkle's Boner

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I had no memory of Rodman heading off to wrestle in the middle of the Finals. Can you imagine if that happened now? It led to a good discussion with my boys about how everyone will tell you that the rules are the same for everybody, and that if you let down your team like that you should pay a consequence such as a game suspension, but in fact the rules are not the same for everybody, nor should they necessarily. Phil Jackson’s genius was that he understood that and did what he needed to do with Rodman to achieve the eventual goal.
 

johnmd20

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I loved the ending, "The bulls began to rebuild."

It didn't need to be mentioned that they are still rebuilding, 22 years later.
 

bankshot1

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The Bird/MJ greeting/ballbusting after the '98 series was a nice snapshot. It was clear that MJ had respect and perhaps even affection for Bird, who gave him huge props when he was a rookie and not quite yet MJ. Bird saw the greatness early on and was not shy about telling the world.
 

InstaFace

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What? Paxson was in this a ton.
For flavor quotes only, though. He wasn't turned into a primary character with full backstory, the way you had detailed setup for Jordan (episode 1), Pippen (episode 2), Rodman (3), Phil Jackson (4). We really knew nothing about him, the person. Episode 9 kinda made Kerr a main character, or at least tier 2 along with Kukoc and some others.
 

CantKeepmedown

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I had no memory of Rodman heading off to wrestle in the middle of the Finals. Can you imagine if that happened now? It led to a good discussion with my boys about how everyone will tell you that the rules are the same for everybody, and that if you let down your team like that you should pay a consequence such as a game suspension, but in fact the rules are not the same for everybody, nor should they necessarily. Phil Jackson’s genius was that he understood that and did what he needed to do with Rodman to achieve the eventual goal.
I loved Jackson's response to the reporter who asked about Rodman being a distraction and taking away the teams' focus. "He's only taking YOUR focus away from the finals. Not ours."
 

bankshot1

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I think the Kerr vignette worked well given the poignancy of it but also that Kerr took a path similar to Phil J. a role player on a championship team to coach of a team in the discussion as one of the game's best. Kerr has currency in several ways.
 

canderson

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I think the Kerr vignette worked well given the poignancy of it but also that Kerr took a path similar to Phil J. a role player on a championship team to coach of a team in the discussion as one of the game's best. Kerr has currency in several ways.
He also looks younger today than he did in 1998.
 

InstaFace

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Which leads me to another question: if this were going to be stretched to 12 or even 15 episodes, what else do you add? You're telling the story of american basketball from ~1985-2000, which more than anything else is the story of Michael Jordan and the Bulls, but it's not just about them. Ideas that come to mind:

- More MJ-at-North-Carolina
- More Dream Team
- More Baseball Sojourn (there are some epic stories many of us have read about that 1994 Birmingham team, and who's a better interview than Terry Francona?)
- You can't interview Jerry Krause, but maybe you interview a lot more people who were close to him and knew his mind, and try to paint a picture of his decision-making. Maybe you do some investigative stuff with other front-office people (NBA and Bulls) that gets at what Reinsdorf was really involved with, his salary cap machinations, the extent to which he used Krause as a shield to not take responsibility.
- More on the defeated playoff opponents other than the Finals (and aside from the 98 playoffs, and I guess overcoming the Pistons in 91). There were some repeat customers in there, and things like the Knicks deserved more. Hakeem. David Robinson.
- More on the involvement of the shoe companies in selling the NBA globally, both the good and the bad.
- More epilogue-type stuff: Jordan in Washington, Jordan with the Hornets / Bobcats. Pippen doing whatever. Rodman remaining an international man of mystery. Reinsdorf spinning his wheels. Kerr going into coaching. The emergence of Shaq, Kobe, Duncan, Pistons Reborn. Hall of Fame speeches. Mentorship of the next generation.

I didn't finish this "wanting more", per se, but it was so well done that you almost wonder about the good stuff that hit the cutting-room floor.
 

LeftyTG

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Steve Kerr is featured prominently in John Feinstein's A Season Inside, which covers the year (1987-88) that his Arizona team reached the Final Four - that was one of the books I repeatedly devoured as a kid. (I bought it for my father for Christmas and read it cover to cover on Christmas Eve before wrapping it up for him!) There's absolutely a documentary to be made about Kerr's life and career once he's ready; e.g., I think there was a game at Berkeley where the Cal students chanted "P-L-O! P-L-O!" at him. I think this series went about as far as it could have, and should have, with him in the context of a marginal figure in the Bulls dynasty, but he's really one of the more interesting people in basketball over the last 50 years.

I was kinda stunned that there was no footage at all of Games 5 and 6 of the Indiana series in Episode IX, and there were a few other points where the doc didn't quite land for me. But I started the series with no expectations and a general distaste for MJ, and yet I'm so glad I watched all 10 episodes. Sports documentaries have come a *long* way in the last decade.
The P-L-O chant was at Arizona State. It's still one of the first things I associate with that school. Every last one of those students should have been kicked out of school.
 

Merkle's Boner

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Which leads me to another question: if this were going to be stretched to 12 or even 15 episodes, what else do you add? You're telling the story of american basketball from ~1985-2000, which more than anything else is the story of Michael Jordan and the Bulls, but it's not just about them. Ideas that come to mind:

- More MJ-at-North-Carolina
- More Dream Team
- More Baseball Sojourn (there are some epic stories many of us have read about that 1994 Birmingham team, and who's a better interview than Terry Francona?)
- You can't interview Jerry Krause, but maybe you interview a lot more people who were close to him and knew his mind, and try to paint a picture of his decision-making. Maybe you do some investigative stuff with other front-office people (NBA and Bulls) that gets at what Reinsdorf was really involved with, his salary cap machinations, the extent to which he used Krause as a shield to not take responsibility.
- More on the defeated playoff opponents other than the Finals (and aside from the 98 playoffs, and I guess overcoming the Pistons in 91). There were some repeat customers in there, and things like the Knicks deserved more. Hakeem. David Robinson.
- More on the involvement of the shoe companies in selling the NBA globally, both the good and the bad.
- More epilogue-type stuff: Jordan in Washington, Jordan with the Hornets / Bobcats. Pippen doing whatever. Rodman remaining an international man of mystery. Reinsdorf spinning his wheels. Kerr going into coaching. The emergence of Shaq, Kobe, Duncan, Pistons Reborn. Hall of Fame speeches. Mentorship of the next generation.

I didn't finish this "wanting more", per se, but it was so well done that you almost wonder about the good stuff that hit the cutting-room floor.
I loved that they included the Pippen comments about Krause and giving him credit. But it was almost out of place after basically trashing him for 10 episodes. I think they owed it to him to pursue those comments a bit more, especially Pippen claiming he's the "greatest GM of all-time". I think they could have interviewed other GMs and business types to better understand Krause's thinking. But of course, this was a Michael Jordan Production.
 

InstaFace

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But of course, this was a Michael Jordan Production.
I thought so too, until Jason Hehir talked on Jalen and Jacoby about the level of input MJ had, which was less than I thought. I think I posted a clip of it on the last page, it was the middle video. Basically, he was making comments and advising them of some good stuff or a story they'd missed, but he wasn't telling them to do X or not-do Y.
 

bankshot1

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I was going to write earlier, that as good as this series was, my sense was there was a big slug of selectiveness and some revionism.

And this sentence kind of captures it.

You're telling the story of american basketball from ~1985-2000, which more than anything else is the story of Michael Jordan and the Bulls, but it's not just about them.

IMO that may be the takeaway from a lot of viewers who did not watch or experience the NBA/American basketball in the 80s, after having watched the 10-part series, but the NBA in the 80s was a lot more than MJ, and very little about the Bulls. The 90s were about MJ and the Bulls, but the resurgence of the NBA in the 80s began in the midwest, with Magic and Bird still in school.

Watching that series one had the feeling MJ conquered the league in his rookie year.

Magic did
Bird almost did.
MJ needed 7 years.

I'll have to rewatch it at some point, but I thought the most compelling stuff wasn't when he won, but when he lost and it obviously pissed him off and motivated him. So maybe if there was a deeper dive on him in his those early NBA years.
 

canderson

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Can we discuss Bill Walton? What the hell happened to him, he once was a good announcer and now ... it’s like I’m watching Fear and Loathing.
 

DeJesus Built My Hotrod

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The Rodman/wrestling thing and how Phil Jackson resolved it without making it a bigger deal is one of the greatest head coaching jobs in professional sports.

Most other great coaches might struggle with that situation but Jackson's background as well as personality made him uniquely suited to navigating it as well as he did. People pay good money for books, classes and seminars on effective management but all you have to do is study the basics of Jackson's approach to how he ran that team and the Lakers on the follow (yes I know he had the most talented players which made his job easier but he had to keep egos in check to realize that talent).

Its also no surprise that Kerr has been so good in his first coaching stint. Everyone credits his time playing for Pop ahead of Jackson but I suspect Kerr's time with the Bulls is what taught him the most about managing the egos on an NBA roster. He too, might have been uniquely suited to run the Warriors - especially the Durant version - given his personality and experience.
 

luckiestman

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Bozo Texino

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This series made me wish I knew more about basketball. I know next to nothing about the sport, and I fucking LOVED it. I can only imagine how much some of y'all got out of it.

And yeah - the "Present Tense" drop was sublime.
 

SemperFidelisSox

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Larry was a great coach. .687 win percentage, two conference finals appearances and a Finals appearance. Like many, he had the unfortunate luck of going up against Jordan/Phil Jackson and the Shaq/Kobe Lakers in two of those three years.
 

coremiller

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Fantastic. They took a chance telling a story with two different timelines but it worked and all came together in the end. Best documentary ESPN has ever done.
FWIW, this structure blatantly rips off David Halberstam's book on Jordan, Playing for Keeps.
 

Oil Can Dan

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I thoroughly enjoyed it. Growing up a teenager in the 80's I was focused almost exclusively on the Celtics and then the NBA started losing me into the 90's, so while I of course knew of Jordan and what he and the Bulls were doing much of what was shown was new to me. I thought it was really well done and like some other have mentioned I never thought a 10 hour documentary would hold my interest but it left me wanting for more.

On Isiah Thomas - is he really so delusional to think it was just the lack of sportsmanship towards the Bulls that got him left off the Dream Team? How about the fact that he alienated Bird (by agreeing he'd be just another good player if he were black) and Magic (by wondering not-so-silently if he was bisexual after the HIV announcement). Here's a hint - when the top three players on the team have good cause to not like you, you're not likely going to be invited to the dance.
 

Preacher

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Which leads me to another question: if this were going to be stretched to 12 or even 15 episodes, what else do you add? You're telling the story of american basketball from ~1985-2000, which more than anything else is the story of Michael Jordan and the Bulls, but it's not just about them. Ideas that come to mind:

- More MJ-at-North-Carolina
- More Dream Team
- More Baseball Sojourn (there are some epic stories many of us have read about that 1994 Birmingham team, and who's a better interview than Terry Francona?)
- You can't interview Jerry Krause, but maybe you interview a lot more people who were close to him and knew his mind, and try to paint a picture of his decision-making. Maybe you do some investigative stuff with other front-office people (NBA and Bulls) that gets at what Reinsdorf was really involved with, his salary cap machinations, the extent to which he used Krause as a shield to not take responsibility.
- More on the defeated playoff opponents other than the Finals (and aside from the 98 playoffs, and I guess overcoming the Pistons in 91). There were some repeat customers in there, and things like the Knicks deserved more. Hakeem. David Robinson.
- More on the involvement of the shoe companies in selling the NBA globally, both the good and the bad.
- More epilogue-type stuff: Jordan in Washington, Jordan with the Hornets / Bobcats. Pippen doing whatever. Rodman remaining an international man of mystery. Reinsdorf spinning his wheels. Kerr going into coaching. The emergence of Shaq, Kobe, Duncan, Pistons Reborn. Hall of Fame speeches. Mentorship of the next generation.

I didn't finish this "wanting more", per se, but it was so well done that you almost wonder about the good stuff that hit the cutting-room floor.
Can I get a replay of the entire Monte Carlo game?
 

Kliq

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I thoroughly enjoyed it. Growing up a teenager in the 80's I was focused almost exclusively on the Celtics and then the NBA started losing me into the 90's, so while I of course knew of Jordan and what he and the Bulls were doing much of what was shown was new to me. I thought it was really well done and like some other have mentioned I never thought a 10 hour documentary would hold my interest but it left me wanting for more.

On Isiah Thomas - is he really so delusional to think it was just the lack of sportsmanship towards the Bulls that got him left off the Dream Team? How about the fact that he alienated Bird (by agreeing he'd be just another good player if he were black) and Magic (by wondering not-so-silently if he was bisexual after the HIV announcement). Here's a hint - when the top three players on the team have good cause to not like you, you're not likely going to be invited to the dance.
I think it does all come back to MJ. The Dream Team needed MJ in a way it didn't need those other players, so he was going to have some final say over the roster. If it was him or Isiah, Isiah wasn't getting on the team.

Yeah, Isiah had some missteps with Bird and Magic, but I kind of doubt Bird would care enough about Isiah's comments from five years ago to hold that kind of grudge over him. Magic was the ultimate team player and I can't imagine him not playing for the Dream Team because of Isiah, who he still holds as a close friend to this day. MJ on the other hand, was the king of holding grudges.
 

djbayko

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I had no memory of Rodman heading off to wrestle in the middle of the Finals. Can you imagine if that happened now? It led to a good discussion with my boys about how everyone will tell you that the rules are the same for everybody, and that if you let down your team like that you should pay a consequence such as a game suspension, but in fact the rules are not the same for everybody, nor should they necessarily. Phil Jackson’s genius was that he understood that and did what he needed to do with Rodman to achieve the eventual goal.
I think the rules are usually for everyone, as they should be. I see Rodman on the Bulls as a sort of "deal with the devil" kind of scenario. Rodman has already proven that he couldn't work on a strictly coached team. They took a gamble and decided up front that they were going to give him a a lot of rope in exchange for performance. And that gamble paid off. The whole team knew what the deal was, so it's not like it was setting a bad precedent for everyone else. It was a very special case.
 

jmcc5400

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Yeah, Isiah had some missteps with Bird and Magic, but I kind of doubt Bird would care enough about Isiah's comments from five years ago to hold that kind of grudge over him.
Bird laughed it off in the moment. There was a furor about Isiah's remarks after the ECF and Bird addressed it before the finals with a smile and said "Isiah knows I'm a baaaaaaaaad man."
 
The P-L-O chant was at Arizona State. It's still one of the first things I associate with that school. Every last one of those students should have been kicked out of school.
Thanks for setting me straight on this. (I was too lazy earlier today to go back through A Season Inside to confirm the specifics, although I probably could have Googled this instead.)