‘The Last Dance’ makes big splash with opening episodes

The ESPN documentary series “The Last Dance” chronicles the final season of the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls dynasty of the 1990s.

Episodes 1 and 2 of the 10-part series aired on Sunday night.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the shutdown of the NBA and most global sports, now is a unique opportunity to highlight the overall greatness of Chicago’s championship dynasty and the personalities on the team.

Therefore, ESPN decided to move up the release date from June to April. (Neflix is streaming the series outside of the United States.)

“As society navigates this time without live sports, viewers are still looking to the sports world to escape and enjoy a collective experience,” ESPN said in a statement. “We’ve heard the calls from fans asking us to move up the release date for this series, and we’re happy to announce that we’ve been able to accelerate the production schedule to do just that.

“This project celebrates one of the greatest players and dynasties ever, and we hope it can serve as a unifying entertainment experience to fill the role that sports often play in our lives, telling a story that will captivate everyone, not just sports fans.”

The 1997-98 campaign produced the Bulls’ third straight title, and their sixth title of the decade. The Phil Jackson-coached Bulls went 6-0 in NBA Finals appearances, including back-to-back championships over the Utah Jazz in 1996-97 and 1997-98.

Director’s insights

“Michael Jordan and the ’90s Bulls weren’t just sports superstars, they were a global phenomenon,” director Jason Hehir said in a statement. “Making ‘The Last Dance’ was an incredible opportunity to explore the extraordinary impact of one man and one team.

“For nearly three years, we searched far and wide to present the definitive story of an era-defining dynasty and to present these sports heroes as humans. I hope viewers enjoy watching our series as much as we enjoyed the opportunity to make it.”

And how. Above all, Sunday’s documentary series debut was a shared experience for sports fans around the world.

Early storylines

Parts 1 and 2 of “The Last Dance,” which gives viewers an inside look at the inevitable breakup of Bulls GM Jerry Krause’s club and its journey throughout the season, impressed the public, media personalities and the NBA.

It was a taste of what’s to come in episodes 3-10.

“The Last Dance” begins with some scenes from the 1997-98 NBA campaign.

What’s more, the documentary series production staff also weaves in segments that show Michael Jordan during his University of North Carolina days and rookie season with the Bulls.

Wise move. This kaleidoscopic view of MJ’s career helps set the tone for the epic project from the get-go.

Rave reviews of ‘The Last Dance’

Not surprisingly, Michael Jordan’s contemporaries expressed positive reviews of “The Last Dance.”

Fellow Hall of Famer Magic Johnson, for starters.

“Michael Jordan’s Last Dance was fantastic and I loved all two hours of it!! Young fans that never got to see Michael play now understand why he’s the of basketball!” Magic tweeted.

“Man MJ had it! He had that ‘IT.’ He was chosen to be the GOAT,” Dwyane Wade tweeted.

Richard Deitsch, who covers sports media for The Athletic, declared that “The Last Dance” is brilliant. In one tweet, he noted that he’d already seen episodes 1-8.

“When ESPN is at its best, it can produce transformative work,” Deitsch tweeted. “The OJ doc remains the best content ESPN has produced, but #TheLastDance is a phenomenal, ambitious doc & judged on its own, it’s one of the best things ESPN has ever done…”

The Last Dance is already projected to be the best basketball documentary of all time.

Upcoming schedule

ESPN is scheduled to air episodes 3-4 of “The Last Dance” on April 26, 5-6 on May 3, 7-8 on May 10 and 9-10 on May 17.

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