The 10th episode of ESPN's documentary 'The Last Dance,' which profiles Michael Jordan and the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls, aired on Sunday night. Here are five takeaways from the episode...
1. What are we supposed to do now?
There was so much anticipation for 'The Last Dance,' and though it wasn't perfect or an objective tale that heard from all sides, it delivered in its pure entertainment and it kept us captivated for five weeks during the coronavirus pandemic. But now, it's over and sports still aren't back.
The documentary itself, however, was brilliantly fun from start to finish. And given the circumstances, a unique event in television history and one many of us will remember for a long time. The sports world stopped and back came Michael Jordan and the 1990s Bulls, still with the ability to amaze us even after all these years.
There were 10 episodes and, in the end, it was only natural to wish there were more.
2. The final installment tied up all the loose ends of Jordan's Bulls career. We went through the 1998 NBA Finals and the aftermath of that season.
The most important questions that were answered dealt with how the dynasty came unraveled. The documentary began in Episode One by setting the stage for the last season, how general manager Jerry Krause had decided it would be Phil Jackson's final year, and how Jordan then indicated it would be his last as well.
Well, we learned that once the championship parade in 1998 was over and the Bulls had won their sixth championship, owner Jerry Reinsdorf offered Jackson the opportunity to come back. Jackson declined.
And through that storyline, Jordan admitted he would have signed on for another season and gone after a seventh title. He also believes most of the Bulls would have done the same, even though some players would have had to take less money to do so. Jordan said all of this after watching Reinsdorf's comments on an iPad, which was a motif of the show and a really effective technique given Jordan's tendency for meme-able facial expressions.
Within this context, there was a really interesting window into Jordan's mind when he was asked if it was nice to leave the sport after winning a title and retire at his peak.
He said no, it wasn't: "It's maddening because I feel like we could have won seven."
We always picture going out on top as the preferable way to end a career, but apparently it isn't what it's cracked up to be.
3. Krause remained the villain of the show until the end and, unless I missed it, there wasn't a direct mention of his passing. There was, however, a quick moment where he got some credit for what he did to help build the dynasty.
Scottie Pippen was going through the great people he spent time with including Jordan, whom he called the best player of all-time, and Jackson whom he said was the best coach ever. Of Krause, he said he was the best general manager in the sport. That is high praise, of course, and a major departure from how he was otherwise characterized throughout the series.
4. This episode didn't seem to have a real viral moment, but there were a few interesting nuggets along the way. Like, Leonardo DiCaprio being in the locker room to greet Jordan after the Bulls won the title in 1998. There was also Karl Malone walking onto the Bulls' bus after the decisive Game 6 to congratulate the victors, basically the exact opposite of what Isiah Thomas did to the Bulls years prior.
We also saw Jordan's kids make an appearance for the first time. His two sons and daughter were interviewed briefly about how their mom wouldn't let them go to road Finals games in Utah because of the unruly fans.
There was also the tale of Dennis Rodman skipping practice during the Finals to appear at a pro wrestling event in Michigan with Hulk Hogan. And after he was fined, he ducked the media by sprinting out of the arena.
If you think about it, that is a bit bizarre. Rodman was a relentless warrior on the court and one of the most fearless players in basketball. Yet, he literally ran out a backdoor to avoid answering questions to the media.
5. So many stories were told during this documentary that it's tough to tell what was new and what has been told before. But there was one about the aftermath of that final season that certainly stood out.
Jackson took a page out of a grief counselor's playbook and organized a team meeting where each player was asked to write down their thoughts of what the team and their teammates meant to them. They then all put their papers in a coffee can and lit it on fire.
Apparently, every player wrote heartfelt stuff, including Jordan who wrote a poem. That surprised some of his teammates who weren't used to him showing that level of emotion.
Steve Kerr said of the experience: "One of the most powerful things I've ever seen."
Maybe that's what we should all do to commemorate the end of 'The Last Dance.'
Unfortunately, though, the whole documentary ended without even mentioning Jordan's time with the Wizards. Sure, don't go in-depth. Don't tell the whole story. But nothing?
The only good news is that it leaves the door open for a sequel. We'll just have to wait for Jordan to greenlight the next 10 episodes.
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'The Last Dance' Ep. 10 recap: Tough to see such a fun documentary end originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington