What 'The Last Dance' revealed about Jordan, Bulls
MANILA, Philippines – Sports documentary The Last Dance gave basketball fans a treat as it chronicled how Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls built a dynasty in the NBA during the 1990s.
It also provided non-fans a deeper understanding on what led to Jordan earning the greatest player of all time tag and the Bulls turning into a global icon.
Rappler chatted with basketball fans and non-fans who were too young – or weren't even born yet – when Jordan and the Bulls were at the peak of their powers to talk about their realizations after watching the first few episodes of the 10-part miniseries.
Although he does not follow basketball religiously, Tristan Zinampan, a 27-year-old content producer, has distinct memories that Jordan and the Bulls were the talk of the town when he was still a child.
"I remember in school when people would say, 'Who's the greatest boxer?' Of course, it's (Muhammad) Ali. In baseball, it's Babe Ruth. In basketball, it's always Michael Jordan," said Zinampan.
But beyond the discussion of being the greatest of all time, Zinampan had little knowledge about Jordan and the way he played the game.
That changed after watching the miniseries.
"Growing up, the reason that I didn't become a basketball fan is because I don't feel the excitement. But watching The Last Dance, [Jordan] was really different."
"I think [his greatness] was contextualized. Before, the description of him being great was very nebulous."
Zinampan said he now understands why people describe Jordan as "electric."
"[Watching him play], especially his games when he was the Rookie of the Year, you'd question how is he pulling off those impossible moves, that he can still make the shot even if he throws the ball from his hip."
For John Bryan Ulanday, a 25-year-old sports reporter, the documentary proved that the Bulls were more than just Jordan.
"We grow up idolizing Jordan as the sole anchor of the Chicago Bulls. This documentary magnified how important (Scottie) Pippen was," Ulanday said.
"[Jordan and Pippen] were a one-two combo during that time. Jordan wasn't the only man who built their dynasty, Phil Jackson and (Dennis) Rodman were also there."
The first two episodes explored the early basketball careers of Jordan and Pippen and how they both benefitted from the presence of each other.
Jordan won all of his 6 championships with Pippen by his side and never made past the first round of the playoffs without his trusted running mate.
When Jordan was out, meanwhile, Pippen and the Bulls were never the same, suffering back-to-back conference semifinals exits.
As Jordan put it, "Whenever they speak Michael Jordan, they should speak Scottie Pippen."
"When you watch The Last Dance, you'll realize that there were other factors [to the Bulls' championships]," said Ulanday.
One of those factors was former Bulls general manager Jerry Krause, who was somewhat depicted as the villain in the miniseries as he butted heads with Jordan, Pippen, and Jackson.
"Unpopular opinion: even though many hate Jerry Krause, he was a big factor to their success because he built the team," Ulanday said.
"Jerry Krause is correct that the front office played a pivotal role, although we didn't know that when we were young. For us, it was all about the players."
Erika Lopez, an 18-year-old sociology student, only knows about Jordan being a "good basketball player" and admitted she did not even know the fact that the NBA icon was a player for the Bulls.
"I've only heard of phrases like 'I want to be the best like Michael Jordan' thrown around by basketball players, both local and from around the world," Lopez said.
She added, "I never bothered to look into what that really meant, I only assumed that Michael Jordan must be the Beethoven of basketball or something based on what people would say about him."
The first two episodes of the miniseries gave Lopez an introduction to the sport.
"I realized just how hype-fueling basketball could be. Not only was Michael Jordan the best basketball player of all time, he carried that title with pride and heart," Lopez said.
"Turns out that basketball is also a sport that people are very passionate about, and thanks to Michael Jordan, he cultivated that love and passion from all around the world because of how awesome he is."
Lopez added watching Jordan piqued her curiosity about the game.
"I never had any interest in basketball until I saw that montage of him landing shots effortlessly and gracefully. Having a spectacle like him draws people's attention, even people like me, who has little to no interest in sports."
"It also really cements the fact that sports bring people together. People from around the world gather to watch the spectacle that is Michael Jordan," Lopez said.
Episodes 3 and 4 will stream on Netflix on Monday, April 27. – Rappler.com