I knew nothing about basketball before watching ”The Last Dance”. I had never heard the name Michael Jordan before, or NBA, or Chicago Bulls. Football – and Barca – is my passion.
Now I ask myself, why I – in three days – watched the documentary series of 10 episodes. The answer is easy: It is sooo entertaining. It caught and kept my attention the whole way through. Because of the personality of Michael Jordan, the charismatic best player in the world, according to the film and himself, the many dramas and conflicts that the film unfolds, the side-characters – and of course the constant bombardment of clips from the games, all of them played in the 1990’es. The dunks, the scoring when there were few seconds left, the atmosphere in the halls with Madison Square Garden as the place Jordan loved to play. With Mike, Michael, number 23, the black cat… he had/has many nicknames, the man in focus, the man who was, before and after the games, always well dressed in suits and tie, very often with a long cohiba in his mouth. Lots of footage from the changing rooms, lots of material from press conferences, television presenters, interviews of today with equally charismatic teammates and the coach Phil Jackson. The latter comes out as a very sympathetic character, who understood the players, especially the wild Dennis Rodman, who sometimes dropped the training after nights with booze and women but always turned up to deliver perfectly during the games.
And Scottie Pippen, Jordan’s closest, who sits there with a smile and a dark voice remembering the 6 championships of Chicago Bulls, and all the small and bigger stories connected. Including the conflicts with the management.
As a film? Very well crafted. Games, interviews around the games, year after year, with many comparisons between the first three wins (91/92/93) and the last three wins (96/97/98), with the break where Jordan turned to baseball as he had lost the energy after the tragic death of his father, who was always with him. There’s a fine build up to his return to basketball. In a scene his press man tells the story of how he drafted several press releases on the return, all of them rejected by Jordan, who writes it himself: “I’m Back”. Nothing more.
I have read that Jordan owns a lot of the material in the film – it is obvious that the film is seen from his perspective, and that there probably are many stories that could have put another light on the “larger than life” athlete. Who cares?
Will I watch basketball on tv after this film. Probably not but I understand, why many find football/soccer boring compared to the dramatic and per se entertaining basketball.
Netflix, 2020, 10 episodes.