The first two episodes of Netflix’s new Michael Jordan docu-series, ‘The Last Dance,’ premiered on Monday and from those two helpings alone, there’s a lot to pick apart and unravel.
The ten-part miniseries gives viewers unprecedented access from behind-the-scenes of the Chicago Bulls’ infamous 1997-98 season, Jordan’s last with the club. Below are five things we unpackaged from episodes one and two…
Jordan’s “Win At All Costs” Mentality
If you’re wondering what makes one of the greatest sportsmen of all-time so great, ‘The Last Dance’ does a great job at getting a closer look at what made Jordan strive for perfection - an iron-clad mental strength forged in his childhood.
Growing up, sibling rivalry on the court would often lead to blows with his brothers Larry and James, especially with Larry, who Jordan’s uber-competitive father claims was actually a better ball player than Michael growing up.
Jordan Sr's shadow loomed large over the Jordan brothers and competing for his affections often led to all-out-war.
The Chicago Bulls’ “Coke Circus” In The 80s
When Jordan joined the Bulls in 1984, he was expecting to meet fellow-minded basketballers dedicated to playing perfection, but what he actually found was enthusiasts of a very different nature. In one anecdote he tells the story of the time he went around a hotel he and his teammates were staying at:
“I start knocking on doors… I get to this one door, and I could hear someone say ‘Shhh, someone’s outside’. This deep voice says, ‘Who is it?’ I say, it’s MJ, and they say, ‘Ah, f**k, he’s just a rookie. Don’t worry about it.’”
“So they open up the door. I walk in, and practically the whole team is in there. It was things I had never seen in my life as a young kid. You got your lines over here, you got your weed smokers over here, you got your women over here.”
Jordan, fresh from college, was the model player however and while his teammates were partying, he preferred to stay at home and do laundry.
Jerry Krause Is ‘The Last Dance’s’ Villain. Or Is He?
Ah, Jerry Krause, the obvious Carole Baskin of this piece.
General Manager Krause takes centre stage as the documentary’s villain, the man seemingly hell-bent on breaking up one of the greatest teams in the history of sport.
Krause’s portrayal is one of jealousy, and his apparent unhappiness with the attention certain players were getting during their unprecedented success: He had a particular axe to grind with Scotty Pippen - who, admittedly, wasn’t entirely innocent himself.
Though Krause does come off as pretty unlikeable, it’s hard not to feel some sympathy for him when he’s being bombarded with abuse from his own star players.
Scotty Pippen Is The Most Undervalued Player In NBA History
No all-time great ever made it to the top without a little help from a playing sidekick, and for Michael Jordan that was Scotty Pippen - arguably the greatest sidekick, not only in basketball, but in sport’s history period.
A huge chunk of the series so far has revolved around Pippen’s run-ins with the aforementioned GM Jerry Krause, as well as the fact that, despite being one of the best players in the NBA, a misguided long-term contract signing when he turned pro meant he wasn’t even in the top 100 best-paid basketballers in the world.
Such was Pippen’s influence on the Bulls in the 90s, his omission from the side for three months after a foot surgery showed glaring holes in the Illinois side’s set-up.
In two episodes, with only a smidge of screen time, we can already tell Rodman is the proverbial ticking time bomb in the Bull’s changing room - nobody quite knows what he’s going to do next.
Admittedly more of a background star in this series’ first two instalments, but anyone who knows Rodman nowadays as the best pal of North Korea’s Supreme Leader, or as a housemate of Chantelle’s on Celebrity Big Brother in 2004, will know that the best Chicago Bull’s stories will definitely come from this wacky haired enigma.
It’s worth noting that from the preview for next week’s episodes (two episodes will drop each Monday), the documentary will be putting focus on Rodman’s “48-hour vacation to Vegas” - which Michael Jordan sets up by saying: “When Dennis wanted to tell me something, I knew it was something I didn’t want to f**king hear.”
We can’t wait.