South students, fans discuss ‘The Last Dance’

By Quinton Robertson

Design Editor

‘The Last Dance’ documentary is about the career of Michael Jordan, with particular focus on the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls season, Jordan’s last year with the Bulls.

The Bulls allowed an NBA Entertainment crew to follow the team around for that entire season, and some footage that has never been seen has been in the documentary. The first couple episodes, for the most part, went back and established Jordan’s background as a player. They also foreshadow the eventual breakup of the Bulls. The documentary mentions his key teammates Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman, and, arguably, one of the best head coaches of all time, Phil Jackson.

Ty Mauck mentioned what he liked about the first couple episodes.

“I liked learning about how undervalued Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman were. They were the perfect fit for Jordan,” Mauck said.

Episodes 5 and 6 showed the viewers how wide-reaching Jordan’s fame was at the height of his NBA career. The documentary shows the relationship between Jordan and Kobe Bryant. Jordan was an inspiration to Bryant. Bryant said he wouldn’t have won 5 championships if it wasn’t for Jordan. Bryant believed he wouldn’t be the player he was if it wasn’t for Jordan.

Senior Jacob Dulay shared his thoughts on the documentary.

“Growing up in LA, Kobe was my favorite player, and to see him idolize Jordan even more than I idolize Kobe himself; it’s truly amazing,” Dulay said.

Jordan’s drive to be the best player in the game was unmatched. He hated when people questioned his greatness or doubted him in anyway. All that anger he got from hearing those type of things drove and fueled him. In one of the episodes, many people were comparing Clyde Drexler to Jordan leading up to the 1992 NBA finals. Jordan believed that there was no way Drexler was on his level. Every time after playing he wanted to make sure who the more superior player was, and he did exactly that. Jordan led the Bulls to win the finals. He won Finals MVP averaging about 36 points, 5 rebounds, and 6 assists.

Boys head basketball coach Josh Smith spoke on how it felt to witness his greatness again.

“I would say the documentary has made me miss the feel and the buzz that surrounds a big-time NBA playoff series.  You get a taste of that from ‘The Last Dance’ and unfortunately, we’re unable to see those matchups play out in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.  It definitely brings back memories for me,” Smith said.

Episodes 7 and 8 touched on why Jordan was known as a jerk. People witnessed some of the toughest “tough love” from Jordan’s demands. Jordan believed winning had a price and that leadership had a price. He wanted his teammates to be a part of a winning team. The documentary talked about Jordan’s first retirement to go play minor league baseball for a season.

“The Last Dance has definitely served as a reminder that Jordan’s greatness was on a completely different level,” Smith said.

Episodes 9 and 10 show the struggles and the battles the Bulls faced in the 1997-98 season. This was the last year with Phil Jackson as their head coach. Jordan already declared at that time he would not play for any other coach than Jackson.  By the end of the season, the Bulls win their historic 6th championship in 8 years under the leadership of Michael Jordan.