A Reaction to “The Last Dance”

Kariuki Massio '21, Contributor

When one utters the name Michael Jordan, the words greatness and dominance instantly follow. Arguably the greatest player to ever step on a basketball court, Michael Jordan was once and still is the man most basketball players want to be like.
He has mentored and paved the way for many NBA superstars like Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. He boasts six NBA championships and 6 finals MVPs, as well as ten scoring titles, five MVP awards, and many more prestigious accolades.
Jordan is one of the most influential athletes in all of the world. Not only did he build a shoe brand that transformed black culture and fashion itself, but he revolutionized the way basketball players play the game. His grace on the court and high-flying dunks are known for striking a sense of awe and admiration into the hearts of opponents and spectators alike. He earned the nickname “Air Jordan” due to his extraordinary athleticism.
These episodes and the other ones that have aired have seen massive ratings from the audience and entertained a multitude of people during this quarantine. Micheal Jordan’s influence today has been reflected through basketball players everywhere who study his film, play in his shoes, and wear his famous number, 23, when they step on the court.
The presence of Jordan’s influence can clearly be seen in many Loomis Chaffee athletes, but most notably in our boys basketball players.
“I really look up to his competitive nature and his will to win,” varsity guard Nate Santos ’21 said. Similar to Jordan, Santos shares the connection of Chicago as he is from Chicago and he grew up around the immense impact Jordan’s life has on the people there. Santos credits his drive to accomplish his basketball dreams to Jordan.
Varsity guard Chase Collyer ’22 has studied Jordan on film and is also motivated by his mindset and his game. “[This ESPN documentary] allows people who were born in the Lebron Era to really see how much of a goat Mike was,” Collyer said.
The Last Dance is a ESPN American sports documentary miniseries focusing on the 1990s Chicago Bulls. The series goes into depth on the grandeur of Jordan, the struggle that came with the hefty expectations, and the key individuals that helped him achieve his success. Two weekly episodes air on Sunday at 9-10pm and 10-11pm EDT.
Episode one of The Last Dance begins at the end of the Bulls’ dynasty. Having won six championships, Jordan and the Chicago Bulls are publicly regarded as one of the best teams in NBA history.
The main dilemma of this episode is whether the front office wants to keep the team as it is or to trade their aging, increasingly expensive superstars and aim toward rebuilding a new future for the team. Jerry Krause, the Bulls’ general manager at the time, was the needle that drove a hole in the relationship between the players and the front office, disrupting chemistry and breaking trust. He was the driving force in the disbandment of the championship team which led to Jordan’s retirement.
The rest of the episode flashes back and talks about the early years of Jordan’s basketball career first as a stand out highschool player and later on as a collegiate athlete at the University of North Carolina. It then moved on to the beginning of his pro career where he made a name for himself and started to become one of the more dominant forces in the league.
Coming into his rookie season, the Bulls franchise was not one of the top teams, and they needed a spark like Jordan who would propel them with the league’s best and sell out the arena. The episode ends with Jordan and the Bulls going into what became their last championship game in 1997.
The second episode focuses on Scottie Pippen for the first half of its run time. Pippen was recognized as the Bulls’ second best player and would become one of the best players in the league. Pippen is also known for being Jordan’s close friend on the team and the Robin to his Batman. Amongst the league’s players, Pippen was second in scoring and first in assists. He also brought a well needed presence to the Bulls that made them get over the hump they needed to win their titles.
Much like the first episode, the second details much of Pippens early life and his journey in becoming a superstar. Here we see that like Jordan, Pippen was also an underdog who worked hard to rise and become a household name. As the episode began to cover his professional career with the Bulls, Pippen speaks on the notion of him being very underappreciated. Although he boasted league best personal statistics and had achievements, he was the sixth highest paid player on the Bulls’ roster and the 122nd highest paid player in the entire NBA.
Towards the end of the season Pippen got injured but decided to play through it as the team continued to win. In recovery, Pippen expressed his mistreatment in terms of pay. He elected to sit out until he was paid his money and soon demanded a trade stating that he would no longer put on a Bulls uniform. Although Jordan and Pippen did not see eye to eye on the way he had handled his contract negotiation, it was clear to Jordan that without Pippen it would be hard to win games.
The Last Dance gives generations that never got to see Micheal Jordan play a chance to experience the prowess of his career. It is plain to see from The Last Dance why Jordan is crowned by many as the G.O.A.T (greatest of all time) of basketball.