One More Last Dance?

  • By Craig Ridgwell

One More Last Dance?

The Sopranos. Game Of Thrones. Westworld. These are the champions of event television, and for five great weeks during the Covid-19 pandemic, we were able to relive a dynasty of a different kind.

When The Last Dance was announced last year, it seemed like it was a lifetime away. Similar to when they announce a Marvel movie years in advance. But when ESPN bowed to Lebron James’ twitter demands to bring it forward four months (which i’m sure the production team loved), all of the sudden we had two hours of vintage Bulls basketball every week.

And then, like that, it was gone. While March seemed to drag out for eternity, April and May appeared to vanish in the snap of some purple guy’s fingers. Whether you were a Jordan fan or not, whether you’re still a Jordan fan or not, it was five weeks of pure 90’s basketball bliss. Unless you were Karl Malone, Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley, Gary Payton or Isaiah Thomas.

Did we need episodes 11 (The Wizard Years) and 12 (The Charlotte Hornets front office years)?

Absolutely not. But we still would have watched them.

Here’s a collection of additional reading (well, viewing) that will flesh out related stories along the road of the Bulls supremacy. From the championship teams and superstars that preceded them, to the string of teams and superstars that were left without championship rings simply because their careers overlapped with Michael Jordan.

Quick note: Some of these are available on Kayo here in Australia - which has a 14 day free trial that should be plenty of time to knock these off.

The Last Dance: The Official Playlist [Spotify]

This is a no-brainer. The production team did an amazing job with the music selection capturing the time, and while every song feels familiar - it’s definitely not your average hokey best-of-the-90s type of playlist.

And yes. Kenny Lattimore is on there. He was a friend of Michael’s. Not sure you knew that.

Listen on Spotify

Game 6 - The Movie [ESPN / Kayo]

You’ll never see an NBA game like this. Ever. ESPN went back to the original tape recordings of Game 6 of the 1998 Finals, remastered it in HD and cut in film footage shot for the Bulls documentary as seen in the Last Dance. The access to the timeouts is incredible - especially the final timeout where a camera simply focuses on Jordan sitting on the bench recomposing himself, and the shots underneath each basket capture some sensational views. You’ll potentially never be able to watch Basketball on TV again after this, and whatever the NBA is able to hobble together this year for playoffs is unfortunately going to seem amateur in comparison.

Watch it on Kayosports.com.au

Magic & Bird: A Courtship of Rivals [HBO]

The saviors of the NBA are the focus of this HBO produced piece, following them from competing against one another in college, through their NBA careers, the 1992 Olympics all the way to their final playing days. During the course of the story you’ll touch on MJ’s entrance to the NBA, and also more pieces to the Isaiah Thomas story as he clashes with Bird after accusations of racism against Thomas, and then further clashes with Magic after his HIV diagnosis.

Highlights include any time Magic Johnson speaks, the story of the first joint Converse commercial, and tales of fans lining up to watch Larry Bird mow his lawn.

Watch it on Youtube

30 for 30: Bad Boys [ESPN / Kayo]

A great look at the team that bridged dynasties - in-between the Lakers/Celtics years and the bump in the road to Championships that the Bulls had to physically get stronger for.

Highlights include any archival Chuck Daly interviews, Rodman’s backstory, and any interview where someone tries to justify beating the shit out of other teams.

Honestly though, the skew of the documentary makes them all seem quite interesting. Except for Laimbeer of course, who continues to play the most stubbornly unlikable NBA character to this day.

Watch it on Kayosports.com.au

The Dream Team [NBA tv]

An indepth look at the circus surrounding the 1992 US Olympic Basketball team. Predominantly a puff piece, but highlights include the rehearsal scrimmages, great Chuck Daly moments, and Charles Barkley being Charles Barkley.

Watch it on Youtube

30 for 30: Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs The New York Knicks [ESPN / Kayo]

The team that took the 98 Bulls to seven games in the Eastern Conference finals was still finding their identity in the mid 90’s, and like any other team they had their hurdles to conquer in the playoffs. Indiana’s hurdle was the New York Knicks, who themselves had just graduated from being knocked out by the Bulls in previous playoff years.

Highlights include the footage from Reggie’s draft night, John Starks’ interviews, anything with Spike Lee, and Reggie’s 8 points in 18 seconds.

Watch it on Kayosports.com.au

30 for 30: Jordan Rides The Bus [ESPN / Kayo]

A pretty good look at Jordan trying to get serviceable at baseball, and the surrounding circus of his presence in the minor leagues. But he did seem humbled in the batting cage taking instructions from trainers, which is not a side you see often, ever really. 

It also covers his father’s murder, and the media’s insistance of the link to his gambliing.

Watch it on Kayosports.com.au

30 for 30: This Magic Moment [ESPN / Kayo]

In '95 when Jordan returned to the NBA just in time for the playoffs, it was the Magic that knocked the Bulls out. With their two consecutive number one draft picks in '92 and '93, they built their core with Shaquille O’neal and Anfernee Hardaway (okay technically Hardaway was a third pick in a trade). But it was the addition of ex-Bull Horace Grant in '95 that catapulted them through the Bulls in the playoffs, all the way to the finals that year. 

But in '96 the Bulls were back to full speed, and swept them in the playoffs. And before you know it, the Magic imploded. 

This is all seen through slightly rose coloured glasses as both Shaq and Anfernee were executive producers on the doc, but it’s still great to see the combination of a young Shaq and Hardaway as the youngest power duos in the league. 

Watch it on Kayosports.com.au

The Bill Simmons Podcast: The Rewatchabulls [Spotify / Apple podcasts]

Any episode of Bill’s podcast recapping The Last Dance is incredible, filled with stories that would never have made the doc, but the real highlight are the game recaps he did with Ryen Russillo. They selected games that are usually overlooked in the Jordan legacy

1991 Finals vs Los Angeles Lakers Game 3: https://youtu.be/-tAuv7TMf60

1993 Eastern Conference Finals vs New York Knicks Game 4: https://youtu.be/FxZOxJ1ZE4k

1993 Finals Vs Phoenix Suns Game 4: https://youtu.be/ErZZzeWY-6w

1995 Eastern Conference Semi Finals vs Orlando Magic Game 6: https://youtu.be/etEcPYE2SQo

1997 First Round Playoffs vs Washington Bullets Game 2: https://youtu.be/S18_EQ86grI

1997 Finals Vs Utah Jazz “Flu” Game: https://youtu.be/R7kzvyuxXGA

1998 Finals vs Utah Jazz Game 6: https://youtu.be/0dyZHh0n1GI

And subscribe to the podcast on Spotify

And last but certainly not least

It’s worth mentioning that some angel has uploaded almost every regular season Bulls game for each championship season:

1990 - 1991 Season

1991 - 1992 Season

1992 - 1993 Season

1994 - 1995 Season

1995 - 1996 Season

1996 - 1997 Season

1997 - 1998 Season

Sadly they haven’t done the 1993/94 season where Pippen had an MVP type season and still took the team deep into the playoffs.

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