I wasn’t going to watch “The Last Dance,” but ultimately I found myself compelled to do so.
“The Last Dance” has become one of the phenomenons of the coronavirus pandemic. ESPN’s 10-part documentary on the Chicago Bulls’ NBA dynasty of the 1990s began being aired on April 19 and concluded on May 17. Produced by the Bulls’ legendary star Michael Jordan and directed by Jason Hehir, it centers around the 1997-98 season, which was the last of Chicago’s six championships during its eight-year span of dominance, hence the title. It includes interviews with all the principal characters — Jordan, fellow Bulls stars Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman, coach Phil Jackson, owner Jerry Reinsdorf, and a host of support players, opponents and journalists — as well as never-before-released behind-the-scenes footage from the 1997-98 campaign.
Personally, I wasn’t really that interested in watching “The Last Dance.” I lived through that era, so I knew the story. And being a Seattle guy I wasn’t particularly fond of those Bulls teams anyway. Why dredge up any ill feelings of the past?
But the response to the series was just so strong. Everywhere I looked on social media people were raving about “The Last Dance.” When I had Zoom sessions with friends I was asked about it. The ratings were through the roof, averaging 5.6 million viewers per episode, making it the most-watched documentary ever on ESPN. Rotten Tomatoes has it rated at 96%, both from critics and from viewers.
So based on all that evidence, I had to see what the hype was all about for myself. I finally completed watching the series over the weekend.
If you’re a sports fan, there’s a good chance you watched, too. The coronavirus has shut down sports for more than two months, leaving a gaping hole for sports enthusiasts who are undergoing major cases of withdrawal. “The Last Dance,” which was rushed through production so it could be released during this void in sports programming, constituted the rare piece of new sports content, even though it covered old sports ground. No doubt that need to scratch the sports itch played a role in the documentary’s popularity.
So what’s your stance on “The Last Dance?” Have you watched it? And if so, what did you think about it? Let us know by voting here: