Everyone knows who Michael Jordan is; whether it is from his Basketball, his ‘Air Jordan’ brand, or even if it is from ‘Space Jam’, but how many people know the full story?
‘The Last Dance’ is quite simply one of the best sport’s documentaries of all time, and even more fascinatingly, is an in depth examination of true greatness. The 10 episode series is structured cleverly, switching back and forth in time to build suspense, add context to events, and keep every episode feeling like an event itself.
The show was moved up from summer to coincide with the worldwide lockdown, and that decision proved perfect, as the show gripped the world, both basketball fans and non-fans alike. The reason for this is that it isn’t really about Basketball (with a bit of Baseball thrown in there for good measure, thanks MJ) but it is a look at the human condition, and specifically a look at true greatness, the like of which most of us can’t understand. The word ‘great’ gets thrown around a lot but there are very few true ‘great’ sportsman the likes of which no one else can compare, and this show really dives into that, and shows that Michael often struggled earlier in his career to understand why others couldn’t match up to what he was doing, but as he got older, he matured and used it to try and drag people up as close to his level as possible, even if he didn’t always look like the ‘good guy’.
The access to these legends, both behind the scenes and in interviews, is almost unparalleled, and the archive footage is used to well, never just for the sake of showing some interesting Basketball, but to always push forward the narrative.
There will inevitably be multiple follow ups after the success of this season, and a series focusing on Tom Brady has already been announced to air next year, but I think series’ looking at Mohammed Ali and Tiger Woods would be much more compelling.
Jordan finishing the series by smoking a cigar, looking out at the sunset (amusingly like Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War) was a fitting end to the story of a dynasty that he allowed to happen. It might have been ‘The Last Dance’ for the Chicago Bulls dynasty, but this show gave them another moment in the sun.
Rating = 4.5/5