Opinion: Air Jordan flies high in “The Last Dance”

Asher Heimbuch '22, Web Editor

ESPN’s documentary series “The Last Dance,” centered around Michael Jordan and the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls season, depicts an iconic chapter in NBA’s history and turns it into a dramatic viewing experience for today’s sports lovers. The first six episodes of this 10-part series have been released, and during our current void of sports content, “The Last Dance” gives viewers an enriching experience of athleticism, personalities and competition.

Michael Jordan always steals the show on the court, so it’s not unexpected that he does the same during this documentary. Watching the man in action is mesmerizing. His relentless focus on achievement and the 24/7 maximum effort with which he possessed was astounding. He did everything in his power and ability to force his will on the game, and this series glorifies that.

The NBA was granted unprecedented access to the Chicago Bulls entire 1997-98 season en route to their third consecutive championship. This behind-the-scenes footage gives the viewers firsthand accounts of the clear tensions between players and management that otherwise wouldn’t have been seen.

“The Last Dance” utilizes time jumps exceptionally well. The contrast of that ‘98 season, the flashbacks in time and present day interviews make for a compelling viewing for any sports enthusiast. The past and present observations provide the origins behind what caused the Bulls final season to bubble over, and become, as coach Phil Jackson called it, “The Last Dance.”

Since 1998, the fixtures in the Chicago Bulls organization have had time to reflect on their season together, and now have new and insightful perspectives that they share with the viewers. Watchers can appreciate that when the players are in the moment, it’s visceral, but after they’ve had decades to digest all the nuances of what occured, they may have a different perspective. Now, looking back after more than 20 years, we can see the building blocks of what made it such a unique season.

“The Last Dance” is a fantastic perspective of the 1997-98 season that gives viewers, young and old, the opportunity to relive the magic of Air Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. Michael Jordan is an unquestionable icon to most young children today, however, this series gives context to both his greatness and the challenges he faced during one the most important seasons of his career. Overall, the first six parts of the ten-part drama have been very enjoyable and will have fans waiting for future episodes with great anticipation.