“The Last Dance” Recap Part 1

Before we get into this, let’s get the obvious out of the way. The Last Dance premiere was the biggest sports event since March 12th — the day American sports fell victim to COVID-19 suspensions and cancellations. Not since then has the country watched, in unison, a single “sporting event.” Yes, documentaries are now “sporting events.”

I read a few days ago that 30 For 30’s You Don’t Know Bo was the most watched debut of an ESPN original Documentary. Something like 3.6 million people watched. That was on December 8, 2012.

  • Update: The Last Dance’s April 19th premier averaged 6.1 million viewers. (Axios Sports)

There’s no question that The Last Dance will surely have surpassed that number.

I’m not going to get into a full summary or breakdown of each episode. You don’t want to read that, and I don’t want to write that. Here are a few of the highlights…

Episode 1

  • The Heavy Pour: Should this be the number one thing on the list? I never said there was any significance to the order. You made that up yourself. But to answer the question, this is the most important thing on the list. Michael Jordan waited over 20 years to release The Last Dance. When he sat down to film the confessional interview portions of this, he decided to fit an entire bottle of whiskey in his glass. I have to assume there were refills. No bottle to be seen, not an ad in sight. Just a guy that loves a tall glass of whiskey.
Michael Jordan w/ Whiskey
The Last Dance, ESPN
  • Barack Obama: Let me say it again. Barrack Obama. Michael Jordan has had such a significant impact on our society that we are out here interviewing the 44th President of the United States of America. More important than this is the title President Obama was given by the producers — “Former Chicago Resident.” This guy was the leader of the free world for eight years and we are, both, interviewing him about basketball and referring to him as “Former Chicago Resident.” That is the Michael Jordan effect.
The Last Dance, ESPN
  • Jerry Krause: How can you not be shook by his part in the opening episode? I’m 26, which means I’m too young to remember the political climate of sports during the Bulls run to Championship number six. But I swear, I remember sitting on the end of my parent’s bed watching in awe as Michael did what Michael did. But what really matters here — how did anyone ever let this guy take control? I know, he helped arrange and maintain a core group that won six championships — give the guy some credit. But, you win five championships in seven years and consider rebuilding, and that’s where we all have to call bulls*t. Were Michael’s jokes really taking that much of a toll? People all over the internet are saying this, but if it’s true, why not say it again… Space Jam’s Mr. Swackhammer makes so much more sense now.
Jonathan Daniel, ALLSPORT

“So those are the pills you take to keep you short. Or are those diet pills?”

Michael Jordan during practice, 1997

“Jerry, you want to do some layups with us? They gotta lower the rim.”

Michael Jordan during pre-game, 1997
  • No Autographs, Please: Looked to me like Michael was having a great time strutting around Paris. Who wouldn’t? That is until the arena security guard/handler asked for an autograph. Michael went stone cold. And he had that right. I’ve never been big on autographs or celebrity pictures. But, this is Michael Jordan, so I would be lying if I said I would play it cool. I’d be that little kid running through the streets to stop Jordan’s Corvette and block traffic.
  • Cheat Sheet: In the lead up to the premier of The Last Dance, ESPN put out these “cheat sheets” from a number of their hosts and personalities. Will anyone ever trust Kendrick Perkins or Ariel Helwani again? If you were alive to see MJ play and you pick any other player as your favorite Bull (EVER), you are a certified psychopath. It’s not bandwagon. It’s just reality.

Before I jump into Episode 2, let me start by saying that last night’s premier was the only form of anticipation that I have felt through this quarantine, isolation, hibernation, etc. That made it all the worse when our Xfinity cable box decided to crash in the first 10 seconds of Episode 2. I’m talking full on crash — even deleted the DVR recording I had in case of snack and bathroom breaks. So here we are two days later and I’ve just finished watching.

Episode 2

Top 5 Quotes

“Depends on how f*cking bad the headache is.”

Michael Jordan on whether he would bet on a 90% of survival, 1985

Jerry Reinsdorf escalated the hypothetical from a career ending injury to straight up death and Michael didn’t even flinch.

“For 14 minutes, I would just go absolutely ballistic.”

Michael Jordan on his 7-minute per half time restriction post broken foot, 1985

When Jerry Krause ran out of the suite to demand Michael comes out of the came with 13 seconds left. Phew! Bold move.

“Let’s go out and get our first [road] win, I ain’t gonna say this shit again.”

Michael Jordan pre-game in Los Angeles, 1997

If Michael Jordan tells you he isn’t going to repeat himself, you better go out there and get it done. And when you don’t, you better pray to God that he does what he does and carries the team.

“I’m Not Gonna Fuck My Summer Up”

Scottie Pippen on delaying surgery until October, 1997

Are you telling me if Jerry Reinfeld and Jerry Krause were screwing you, you wouldn’t do the exact same thing as Scottie? This man was playing on a five year (plus two remaining rookie contract years), $18M deal at a time when salaries were skyrocketing. Yea, yea, I know,Michael is right — Pippen signed a contract and made a commitment to his teammates, but c’mon man!

“Jerry did a phenomenal job with the team. He made great trades, made great free agent signings. He deserves a lot of credit. But he couldn’t get out of his own way.”

Steve Kerr on the 1987 Draft and Charles Oakley Trade

I mean, yea, we knew this. The first episode is full of video of Michael Jordan absolutely destroying Krause with middle school jokes. If you didn’t guess that it would come to blows with Scottie Pippen — the man that was practically playing for free, you’re just as clueless as Krause, himself.

Michael Jordan

Bonus (because everyone and their mother is talking about this one)

“That wasn’t Michael Jordan out there, that was God disguised as Michael Jordan.”

Larry Bird on Michael Jordan’s 63 points against the Celtics in 1986 Playoffs

If Larry Bird and Magic Johnson’s admiration and borderline fear of Michael Jordan don’t make the point that he is the greatest of all time, then you are likely the kid from Role Models that is arguing over the Bulls’ six championships.

The Last Dance Part 2 (Episodes 3 and 4) Premiere Next Sunday, April 26th at 9:00pm ET.