By Chris Gariglio

From a sports perspective, 2020 has not been kind. We lost a basketball legend in Kobe Bryant and the integrity of America’s pastime was pushed to its limits by the Astros. To cap it off, sports were put on a halt, postponed, and in some cases completely canceled all due to the pandemic that has overcome the world. Now more than ever, we need sports during this time of fear and quandary. After recognizing this, and being lobbied by fans and even some professional athletes, ESPN is releasing its highly anticipated documentary mini-series “The Last Dance” on Michael Jordan. Originally scheduled to be released in June of 2020, it will now air its first two episodes on Sunday, April 19th. Now more than ever, we need this documentary series to register some sense of normalcy, and to remind us that the most celebrated and dominant athlete of all time still stands at the top. 

ESPN’s “The Last Dance” will feature never before seen footage of Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, following his “airness” and the Chicago Bulls throughout the 1997 season. It will focus on the team’s dominant run to basketball immortality along with displaying the larger than life magnitude of the greatest of all-time, Michael Jordan. Yes, I am saying Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time. He always has been and always will. People tend to forget that. It could be due to a younger generation or the ample media coverage of LeBron James. For the record, I do not hate LeBron James – LeBron is incredible and an all-time basketball player – but the worldwide leader in sports is not releasing a 10-part documentary series on him. Michael Jordan was just better in every facet. A transcendent icon with a presence that will never be duplicated. He embodies everything you want in a basketball player: talent, tenacity, and excellence. If you are going to hold the gambling, the homicidal competitiveness, yelling at teammates, and the two year “retirement” for baseball against Jordan as being the greatest to ever lace them up, then stop reading right now because those are sorry excuses. Part of the beauty of Michael Jordan is that he was who he was, which is what this documentary will show. Yes, he put the fear of God in his teammates if they weren’t at the right spot, and yes he did take trips to Atlantic City after playing the New York Knicks during their playoff series. At the end of the day he still won, and did whatever he could do achieve victory. When the ball was tipped, Michael Jordan showed up and did whatever he could to win. In today’s era of athlete’s personal brands and social media accounts, that is something that is forgotten and overlooked. Jordan showed up to every game especially when it mattered most, and on the biggest stage. Two separate three peats, and the leader of the of the greatest basketball team of all time (1996 Chicago Bulls, 72-10). 

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Not only did he win, Jordan did it with style. Jordan was the coolest person in every room he walked into. The most marketable athlete on the planet had the confidence and swagger on and off the court. Jordan’s coolness was unmatched. He never tried to be cool, he just was who he was and that was cool. I’m sorry, but LeBron has never been cool, or at least that cool. As much as Jordan was loved by the media, he was also feared by teammates and peers. There is a certain level of greatness that is reached when your peers discuss how panicked they were to face off against you but at the same time respected how you were about to dominate or embarrass them. Some players even accepted being beaten by Jordan, just so they could have the story. That is respect on a whole other level, which is why it was a privilege to have seen him play, and why it will be a privilege to be able to watch this documentary.

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Bottom line is that “The Last Dance” will be more than a documentary. It is a statement and a reminder that in a world that is constantly changing, now more than ever, it is important to know timeless greatness will always exist. It will remind us that no one will ever match Michael Jordan. It cannot and will not be done. The man, the myth, and the legend will live on forever. Sure you can bring up the “different era’s” argument, but if you actually watch basketball you would know that Jordan would excel even more in today’s game more than the 90’s. We should be thankful to the creator, Jason Hehir, who also directed ESPN’s “The Fab Five.” We should be thankful for him reminding us what a once in a lifetime athlete, a true winner, looks like. It will be a privilege to see “The Last Dance” and to be reminded about the dominance and the six championship rings, which include two separate three peats. Not to mention the six NBA Finals MVPs or the record for thirty-eight 40 plus point playoff games, or eight 50 plus point playoff games. MJ never had less than 15 points in his 179 playoff games. The highest scoring average ever in an NBA Finals, 41.0 points per game in ’93 against the Barkley and the Phoenix Suns. Or the record for most points in a three game playoff series, with 135. That’s 45.0 per game. Do I need to say more?

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Where to Watch: 

NETFLIX

Monday, 20 April – 9:01 a.m. CT – “The Last Dance” Episodes 1 and 2

Monday, 27 April – 9:01 a.m. CT – “The Last Dance” Episodes 3 and 4

Monday, 4 May – 9:01 a.m. CT – “The Last Dance” Episodes 5 and 6

Monday, 11 May – 9:01 a.m. CT – “The Last Dance” Episodes 7 and 8

Monday, 18 May – 9:01 a.m. CT – “The Last Dance” Episodes 9 and 10

ESPN

Sunday, 19 April

9 p.m. ET – Premiere of “The Last Dance” Episode 1

10 p.m. ET – Premiere of “The Last Dance” Episode 2

Sunday, 26 April

7 p.m. ET – Re-air of “The Last Dance” Episode 1

8 p.m. ET – Re-air of “The Last Dance” Episode 2

9 p.m. ET – Premiere of “The Last Dance” Episode 3

10 p.m. ET – Premiere of “The Last Dance” Episode 4

Sunday, 3 May

7 p.m. ET – Re-air of “The Last Dance” Episode 3

8 p.m. ET – Re-air of “The Last Dance” Episode 4

9 p.m. ET – Premiere of “The Last Dance” Episode 5

10 p.m. ET – Premiere of “The Last Dance” Episode 6

Sunday, 10 May

7 p.m. ET – Re-air of “The Last Dance” Episode 5

8 p.m. ET – Re-air of “The Last Dance” Episode 6

9 p.m. ET – Premiere of “The Last Dance” Episode 7

10 p.m. ET – Premiere of “The Last Dance” Episode 8

Sunday, 17 May

7 p.m. ET – Re-air of “The Last Dance” Episode 7

8 p.m. ET – Re-air of “The Last Dance” Episode 8

9 p.m. ET – Premiere of “The Last Dance” Episode 9

10 p.m. ET – Premiere of “The Last Dance” Episode 10

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