The Last Dance Review


Estimated Reading Time: 13 minutes

The Last Dance is a ten-episode documentary series about the Chicago Bulls, who won six NBA championships from 1991 to 1998. The team was led by Phil Jackson and probably the best coach in the history of the NBA, who symbolically called his last season in Chicago the Last Dance, after the general manager of the club Jerry Krause started the reconstruction of the team. 

Certainly, the best player of this team was the legendary Michael Jordan, who according to many experts and basketball fans is the greatest basketball player in the history of this sport. He had the support of players like Pippen, Rodman, Kerr, etc. Michael had a winning mentality and made his teammates better. Michael retired from basketball at one point due to his father’s death, but returned after a year and a half and won three titles with his teammates, and in the end a total of six titles, adding a huge number of individual awards. After winning the last title in Utah in 1998, the champion Chicago fell apart. It turned out to be the last dance of this team, as announced by Phil Jackson before the start

The series is truly fantastic and worth looking at as it discusses creating and ultimately tearing down one of the best generations in NBA history.

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Episode 1

Until the arrival of Michael Jordan, the Chicago Bulls were one average team in the NBA and then a talented player who studied at a college in North Carolina changed everything. Jordan worked for three years in college and then decided to venture into professional basketball waters. It was clear to the people of Chicago that Michael was a very talented player but they did not expect him to grow into the amazing player who brought the Bulls six NBA titles.

The NBA is quite different from the NCAA but for Michael there, he was no different. He simply dominated the field and after several failures and defeats in the 1991 finals, he brought the first and then five more titles for the Bulls. No one believed that a basketball player of his stature in highschool would grow into a basketball legend who is considered the best player in the history of the NBA. Jordan was simply destroying the opposing defenses, he was unstoppable. Before the last season in which the Chicago Bulls won the NBA title, there was turbulence in the club. Club manager Jerry Krause announced that this will be Phil Jackson‘s last season at the club even though the Bulls have won 82 games in a row in the league. 

Obviously, the relations between the two gentlemen were not at the highest level. He emphasized that the titles were won by the entire organization. He certainly deserves that Phil Jackson got a chance to coach one NBA team, but it is clear that the biggest burden besides Jackson was borne by the players and those hit players like Jordan and Pippen who knew how to treat Krause. The 1997/98 season was a season that Phil Jackson symbolically called Last Dance. The great generation of Bulls led by Michael Jordan danced for the last time then. Chicago then won the NBA title for the last time. The then generation in which Jordan, Pippen, Rodman played and led by Phil Jackson is probably the best generation in the history of basketball with which the famous generations of the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers can still be compared.

Episode 2

It was a really great generation of Chicago Bulls in which Jordan and Pippen were definitely the main players. Pippen is a guy who studied at a college in Central Arkansas where he was first an economist. In time, some of the boys left college, so opportunities for scholarships opened up, and Pippen got one of them. He was a talented player but he lacked strength and height which he made up for overtime and when he got to the NBA and played in the Chicago Bulls he was the best player after Jordan with whom he really had a fantastic collaboration. What was problematic with Pippen was that he was paid very little for what he brought on the field and in the last championship season for the Bulls, general manager Jerry Krause wanted to exchange him, which hurt him a lot, so he openly insulted the aforementioned Krause. 

In the end, he asked for an exchange in the 1997/98 season. How important he was can be seen when he had to be absent for several months that season due to injury, so everything fell on the shoulders of Jordan, who simply could not pull the team alone, and the Bulls recorded a series of defeats. Unlike Pippen, Jordan came from a family that allowed him everything to become one of the best basketball players of all time. Michael did not like to lose and was rarely injured. When he got injured in one of the seasons, after the injury, on the doctor’s advice, he could only play for seven minutes, which of course bothered him. Jordan was someone who really danced on the field and his arrival in the NBA fascinated the legendary Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, who were aware that an unreal player and a future star who would dominate the league in the coming years had arrived in the NBA.

Episode 3

Another notable player in the Chicago Bulls champion generation was Dennis Rodman. We all know what the appearance of the mentioned player was like. He drew attention to himself with eccentric hairstyles, piercings, tattoos, hats, etc. Dennis was one of the best defensive players and jumpers in the league. Rodman did all the dirty work that needed to be done in the match and along with Pippen, he provided great support to Michael Jordan. Rodman was part of the generation of Detroit Pistons who caused huge problems for the Chicago Bulls and who had special rules regarding keeping Jordan in defense. Whenever Jordan went to the basket he would get hit in the arms. It is unclear how Jordan came out alive after the games with the Pistons because they literally killed him every time he was beaten. 

Chicago started to rise and became the champion team at the moment when it finally managed to beat Detroit in the playoffs. The aforementioned Rodman probably would never have come to Chicago if the coach had not been Phil Jackson and he certainly wanted to play with players like Jordan and Pippen. No one can deny that Rodman was a great player, but he often knew how to have a controversial free moment. He often fell into crises when he just wanted to take a break from basketball and have fun, drink, etc. 

Once, they even found him in a car with a rifle, and if the police hadn’t stopped him, who knows what would have happened that evening. Rodman liked the support from Jordan and he was very happy when, due to Pippen’s absence from the field, he became the second most important player in Chicago. When Pippen returned, the bugs started working again at Rodman’s and he asked Phil Jackson for a break. He got 48h free and went to Las Vegas. He was certainly one of the most interesting phenomena in the history of the NBA.

Episode 4

As we mentioned Chicago was one average team until Michael Jordan joined their ranks. With the arrival of probably the best basketball player of all time, Chicago played the finals of the conference several times, but what frustrated Michael was that they could not overcome the barrier called the Detroit Pistons. Michael was really great, but he was still not at the level of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird since the trophies had not arrived yet, and then that also changed with the arrival of one man. Doug Collins was fired and the legendary Phil Jackson, who spent most of his playing career with the New York Knicks, with whom he was a two-time NBA champion, took the bench. He was Dennis Rodman before Rodman, which is probably why he understood the aforementioned eccentric basketball player so well. 

Unlike Collins who favored the game at Jordan, Jackson felt it was necessary for other players to get involved in the game in order for Chicago to finally reach the championship ring. Precisely because Jackson was not the center of attention, Michael was not overjoyed with the choice of a new item because the previous one forced the other players to give as many balls as possible to Jordan. Jordan himself realized that he would have to get support from other teammates in order to get the title, so he forced them to train extra after another defeat by Detroit, which had already become frustrating for Michael and his teammates from Chicago. Detroit was finally defeated in 1991, and then the Lakers led by Magic Johnson, which finally brought the Bulls to their first NBA title.

Episode 5

Of course, we are all familiar with the famous sneakers named after the legendary Michael. When Jordan played in them, his feet would be bloody at the end of the game, but they were still his waist. His agent wanted to make Michael a star similar to some famous tennis players, golfers, athletes. Jordan is still considered the richest basketball player of all time who had a great contract in Chicago but earned a huge amount of money about Nike, whose face he is to this day. Michael has already earned several hundred million dollars in the first few years of sponsorship with Nike. Jordan reached his second NBA title with his teammates in 1992 when the Portland Trail Blazers were defeated in the final. They then faced the league’s two best players, Jordan and Drexler although Michael was offended by comparisons to him. 

After winning another title, it was the turn of the Olympic Games, in which professional players, ie players from the NBA, played for the first time in history. At the games in Barcelona, ​​a famous dream team was actually formed, led by Jordan. What was interesting was that there was no Detroit leader Isiah Thomas in the team who was not on the best of terms with Mike so it was speculated that Jordan urged Thomas not to be on the team so as not to spoil the chemistry in the team. The best two national teams in those games were the USA and Croatia, for which the future teammate of the mentioned two, Toni Kukoc, played. Kukoc did not excel in the first game with the Americans, but he was still much better in the final game in which the Croats were again defeated by the Americans. Michael Jordan was almost certainly the biggest star of those games.

Episode 6

After winning two titles, the Chicago Bulls embarked on a campaign for their third consecutive title in the 1992/1993 season. Apparently, everyone wanted the domination of Chicago to end, so information reached the public that wanted to tarnish the reputation of Michael Jordan in the first place. A book of Jordan’s rules has been published in which some things are stated that say that Michael was not a perfect character. At that time, Jordan was one of the most popular athletes in the world, who was a two-time champion and MVP of the NBA. It was rumored that his teammates allegedly did not like Jordan and that he often knew how to order his teammates not to pass the ball to certain players. The story of his alleged gambling problems was especially shocking. 

Such information was allegedly leaked to the public by Jordan’s teammate Horace Grant, who was thought to have liked to talk to reporters about his teammates and the atmosphere in the locker room. It was clear from Grant’s words that he was disappointed with those accusations, but he still accepted to be in the role of a bad guy. That season Chicago played in the conference finals against the New York Knicks who literally beat Jordan and had a two-win advantage. Jordan left New York with his father during that playoff series and went to Atlantic City where he gambled, but neither teammates nor coach Phil Jackson blamed Jordan for thinking it was a good outlet for Michael as well. would adequately prepare for the next matches. A story was immediately created that Michael had problems with gambling but of course that was not true. Jordan loved to play blackjack, and since he also had a passion for golf with the people he played the sport with, he was able to bet. He never got himself in trouble with gambling because he really had a lot of money and what was invested for him was $ 10,000 for others it was $ 10. Michael showed everyone what a player he is and all the bad stories about him further motivated him. Chicago defeated New York and then the Phoenix Suns led by Charles Barkley, who was named MVP that season, so that was an additional motive for Michael and all his teammates who once again showed that they are a fantastic team.

Episode 7

After the Chicago Bulls won their third NBA title, new turbulence followed in the life of Michael Jordan. Namely, his father disappeared, and after three weeks, it turned out that Jordan’s father was killed by two eighteen-year-olds. This was the moment that really upset Michael who decided to take a break from basketball for a year. His father was a great support to him during his career and Michael was happy that his father still watched his last game. The whole world was in shock when he learned that Michael had retired from basketball. Everyone believed that he would return, which is what happened later, but Michael really had to retire from basketball after this unfortunate event. 

Yet Michael did not retire from the sport as he turned to baseball so he played in the second division for the Birmingham Barons. It was known that in addition to basketball and golf, Michael also loves baseball, but of course, no one expected him to have a serious baseball career. Everyone was eagerly waiting for Jordan to return to basketball. That season the Bulls had to play without Michael and they played really great. After Michael retired from basketball, the main one in the team became Scottie Pippen, who organized the guys great. The newcomer from Europe, Toni Kukoc, also did great in the club, but it was easy to see that Jordan lacks this team, which could not go further than the semifinals of the conference playoffs without him. That season the New York Knicks knocked out the Chicago Bulls but the Phil Jackson team could have been overjoyed as they played their first season without Michael Jordan. For something more, a player like Jordan was needed, who made all his teammates better and often did not say the best words to them, but he simply wanted to get the most out of his teammates, to make their game closer to his. Michael was a guy with an amazing winning mentality and all those who couldn’t adapt to him were rated by Jordan as unsuccessful players. He was great both on and off the field and everything he did was to help the people around him. The story that his father was killed because of his alleged gambling debts really hit him and the very death of a person dear to him was enough to decide to withdraw.

Episode 8

The following season was not so successful for the Chicago Bulls. Unlike the first season without Michael Jordan when they played really well, the season after that the team did not do well. Then the following season, what everyone expected happened. Michael Jordan returned to Chicago. There were rumors that Michael continued to play baseball to make results at the level of those he achieved in basketball. However, the fact that he dedicated almost a year and a half to baseball prevented him from doing his best on the basketball court in the first season after his return. His body was developed for the needs of baseball and Jordan then had to undergo a complete reconstruction to be properly prepared for all basketball challenges. As expected, Michael was not at the desired level in his return season, so Chicago was defeated in the playoffs by the Orlando Magic, for which former Jordanian teammate Horace Grant played at the time. During his return season, Jordan also shot the famous animated film Space Jam.

 In the 1995/96 season, the Chicago Bulls returned to the tracks of old glory and reached their fourth NBA title. They took revenge for the defeat to Orlando a season earlier, and then in the final, they defeated Seattle led by defensive player of the year Gary Payton who guarded Jordan quite well in the final series. What was especially interesting was that the last game in the final was played on Father’s Day and Michael was very emotional about this match and winning the championship ring because he knew his father was watching him from the sky. That season there was an incident when Steve Kerr hit Jordan in training and Michael felt very humiliated considering that Steve was the lowest player on the field.

Episode 9

Steve Kerr had a similar fate given that he lost his father who was allegedly killed by two students at the American University of Beirut in Lebanon, where Steve’s father was president. Like Michael, he was a great support to Steve, and every time he heard the American anthem, Steve would remember his father. Steve arrived at the Chicago Bulls as a replacement for John Paxson. It was Kerr who scored the key basket in the final game of the final series against the Utah Jazz in the 1996/97 season in which Chicago was again dominant as well as the season before in which they set a record with 72 wins in the season. It was Steve who joked at the celebration of the sixth title for Chicago when he said that in the key moments of the game, Michael did not feel that he should shoot, so Kerr took the responsibility. 

Jordan really had problems in that final series because he allegedly had the flu and it is not excluded that he was actually poisoned by the pizza delivery man, considering that the pizza was brought by as many as five people, which is certainly unusual for pizza delivery. Jordan was especially motivated in this series because the best player in Utah, Karl Malone, won the title of MVP for that season, so Michael wanted to show that it was a mistake, which he eventually succeeded in doing. The title was dedicated to his second father and Chicago Bulls security member Gus Lett, who unfortunately contracted lung cancer and ultimately failed to win that fight. It was the penultimate season of the Chicago championship generation title and was soon followed by the last dance of the 1997/98 season where Chicago managed to knock out the Indiana Pacers in the conference finals after seven games led by the legendary Larry Bird and the main player was Reggie Miller who was one of the few players who was not afraid of Jordan but in the end, the champion mentality of Chicago ruled in that tense playoff series.

Episode 10

Even before the start of the 1997/98 season, it was known that this would be the last championship dance for the Chicago Bulls. Jerry Krause has announced that regardless of the results in the upcoming season, Phil Jackson will no longer be the coach of Chicago. Despite all the facts, Chicago was the best again and reached its sixth title. Again the title rival was the Utah Jazz led by Malone and Stockton who had been defeated by Chicago earlier this season and their fate was the same this season. Chicago had a lot of trouble in this final series given that Rodman went to a catcher show in the middle of the series for which he was penalized but Phil Jackson knew he needed a player like Dennis. 

Scottie Pippen had a back problem and with superhuman efforts, he managed to push this series to the end in which as expected when it was most important the best was Michael Jordan. Chicago managed to win three titles in a row in the NBA for the second time. This was perhaps the best generation in NBA history to have their last dance in Utah. 

This was followed by the reconstruction of the team, although almost all players such as Jordan, Pippen, Kerr, Rodman would have remained in the team if they had been offered at least a one-year contract. It will be remembered that the best player of all time, Michael Jordan, the best coach Phil Jackson and probably the best general manager Jerry Krause played in this team.

Louis

I fell in love with Basketball when I was about 9 years old. Since then I have played on, coached and organised many teams. I've followed the NBA ever since. With no home team I've always rooted for teams and players I like the style of. The last 2 decades that's meant Greg Popoviches Spurs for the most part. My favourite NBA podcasts are The Lowe Post, Open Floor and The Ringers "The Mismatch".

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