Getting your basketball fix hasn’t been easy since the NBA suspended its season on March 11. Fortunately, ESPN’s The Last Dance helps scratch that itch by bumping its premiere up from June to April. The 10-part docuseries takes a deep dive into the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls’ season. That year concluded the second of Michael Jordan’s three-peats with the tail end of back-to-back NBA Finals triumphs over the John Stockon and Karl Malone led Utah Jazz. While any NBA fan will remember MJ’s crossover (or push-off, depending on your allegiance) on Bryon Russell as he squared up for his title-winning mid-range jumper, few fans have an idea of how rocky the road to that repeat was.
The Last Dance chronicles a turbulent season where the writing was on the wall for the Bulls from the first tip. Despite their success, the team’s ownership and management were at odds with everyone from Jordan and Pippen to head coach Phil Jackson. Jackson had announced his intention to leave the Windy City at the end of the season, no matter what. His impending departure meant the season would be the Bulls’ swan song one way or another. In typical Jordan fashion, there was only one way to go out — victoriously. The Last Dance chronicles His Airness, Scottie, Phil, et al as they tuned out all the off-court drama and focused on the same mission they had season after season. Ultimately, with their mettle put to the test, their championship drive would propel Jordan’s Bulls into the pantheon of the greatest teams to ever hit the hardwood. Director Jason Hehir captured more than 100 interviews from rivals, sportscasters, and teammates such as Patrick Ewing, Bob Costas, and Dennis Rodman, along with Michael himself. The docuseries takes fans of one of the sports most heralded teams and gives an intimate insight into what it really means to have the heart of a champion.