Since the day Michael Jordan retired and left the Chicago Bulls, fans have been eager for more inside info. His career was just too exciting and unprecedented to not do a great production on it. Sure enough, in 2016, Michael Jordan gave producers the go to develop a documentary on the 1997-1998 season. It would be a 10-part series with one hour episodes; two episodes airing for five straight Sunday nights. Last week, the first two episodes were released to the public. After generating buzz for months and months, "The Last Dance" lived up the hype and perhaps even exceeded expectations.
As long as you are a casual sports fan, you generally know Michael Jordan’s story. He wins three titles, retires to go play baseball, comes back and wins three more in a row before calling it a career again. While we all know that, there is still so much of the story that goes untold. “The Last Dance” goes into great depth to show a neutral view on the entire Bulls journey. They really do show both sides to the story, how Jerry Kraus and his relationship with the entire roster was turmoil, how Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman wanted to take time off, and how Michael Jordan was somewhat hard to deal with.
Upon winning the 1996-1997 title, the future of the Bulls was surrounded by a ton of question marks. It was evident that Kraus and Phil Jackson did not want to continue working with each other, not to mention the fact that Kraus was ready to get rid of just about everyone on the roster besides Jordan. After multiple meetings with ownership, Kraus and Jackson agreed on a one-year deal, in which no matter what happened, it would be Jackson’s final season in Chicago. In direct correlation of this, Michael Jordan would be done in Chicago as well, because he was not playing for anyone other than Jackson. Just like that, it was on.
Due to the fact that it was known that this would be it, the Bulls allowed unprecedented camera crew access to the locker room for the entire season in hopes that there could be a documentary someday down the road. While watching the episode, and seeing how terrible the relationship had become between the players and the General Manager, all I could think about was the Patriots. It is certainly not apples to apples, but the end of both dynasties have some serious similarities.
Bill Belichick is both the coach and general manager of the Patriots, while Jerry Kraus was the general manager of the Bulls. Although both Belichick and Kraus constructed teams that were able to win six titles each, it is hard to keep a full roster of players happy; especially when you are working with each other for more than a decade. As a GM, you have to be looking towards the future at all times, which is exactly what both Kraus and Belichick have done time and time again. On the other hand, as star payers, such as Michael Jordan and Tom Brady, the word “rebuild” is something you absolutely never want to hear. Therefore, when their respective teams are not signing proven veterans, they get upset.
The biggest thing this documentary has given me after the first week is some clarity on the Patriots. For a while, I have been constantly questioning why the Belichick-Brady era had to end the way it did. I really believed they would figure out a way to make the ending a positive one. After now seeing how the Bulls ended in 1998, I realize that a perfect ending is incredibly hard to come by.