Well, as most of you probably know, the popular ESPN and Netflix 10-part docuseries The Last Dance has concluded.
For five straight Sundays, the stories told about Michael Jordan, the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls and the cast of characters that made them into a dynasty captivated so many across the country.
And although there’s been some holes – mostly by Jordan’s former teammate with the Bulls Horace Grant (check out his comments online for more information on the topic) – that have been poked into how the story was told and that it was depicted through the lens of how Jordan saw things then and now, the docuseries thoroughly scratched my sports-craving itch.
Like I did each Friday, I’m here to give you my takeaways from the series. But unlike in the previous five weeks, this will be it for my thoughts – thanks for allowing me to indulge myself on this topic.
The only difference is, instead of the few takeaways listed below coming from the most recent episodes that were aired, these are my over riding thoughts on the series as a whole and the questions I was still pondering once the credits from Episode 10 rolled through the top of my television screen.
• Bulls dynasty altered Hall of Fame careers
Being a life-long Indiana Pacers fan and growing up watching Reggie Miller, I was aware that he was one of the best players – and especially shooters – to take an NBA court. The only thing missing was a championship ring. And after watching The Last Dance, it became apparent Jordan and the Bulls kept so many top-shelf players, that have rightfully taken their place in the Basketball Hall of Fame, from capping their careers with some jewelry. Among those that never won a championship and were eliminated by Jordan included Miller, Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone and John Stockton. All five of these guys are known as some of the best to play the game, but what would people say about them if things went a little different against No. 23 and they ended up spoiling his perfect NBA Finals record?
• Should’ve gotten a chance at 7
The very end of The Last Dance was eye-opening. Like all dynasties of the past – New England Patriots, Dallas Cowboys, Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Lakers – power and ego eventually get in the way and teams are broken up. That was the case with the Bulls as well. General Manager Jerry Krause had it in his mind before the 1997-98 had even gotten under way – remember him being quoted saying even if Phil Jackson went 82-0 he would be replaced? – that Chicago would be embarking on a rebuild once the NBA Finals concluded. And he did. Jordan retired for a second time, Scottie Pippen was traded to the Houston Rockets, Dennis Rodman was released, Steve Kerr (San Antonino), Scott Burrell (New Jersey) and Jud Buechler (Detroit) were allowed to sign with other teams and Jackson resigned, ending a chance at a fourth consecutive title and a seventh in nine chances. While Krause deserves blame for the crumbling of the dynasty, owner Jerry Reinsdorf shouldn’t get off as easily as he has. Being the guy at the top of the food chain that has the final say about everything, he could’ve made the decision to take another crack at it with the same group. But he didn’t. He allowed Krause to call the shots and the Bulls have paid for it ever since. During the start of the dynasty, Chicago posted a .746 winning percentage, won 26 playoff series, six championships and had zero lottery picks all while being coached by the same guy. After the 1998 season when everything was deconstructed, the Bulls have posted a .448 winning percentage, won five playoff series, zero championships and have picked in the lottery 13 times while making 10 coaching changes.
• What’s next?
With The Last Dance being as popular as it was, many have been asking for more docuseries to be made, which got me to thinking what players and what teams would be in the same ballpark in terms of entertainment and interest as the Jordan-led Bulls? The Lance Armstrong docuseries got underway on ESPN Sunday and will conclude in a few days, the Sammy Sosa-Mark McGwire docuseries will air in June and the Worldwide Leader has already announced it will be doing one on Tom Brady in 2021 and has behind-the-scenes footage of Kobe Bryant’s final season. But who else would garner the viewership to make one worthwhile? The obvious answers, in my opinion, include Tiger Woods, LeBron James, Barry Bonds, Serena and Venus Williams, the Miami Heat (Big 3 era) and the Golden State Warriors (final year with Kevin Durant on the team). Others I would certainly have interest in: Alex Rodriguez, Mike Tyson, Pete Rose, Cristiano Ronaldo, Mike Krzyzewski and Bill Belichick. Who would make your list of must-see docuseries?