Earlier this year, when the entire world was essentially shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a new and shared experience was about the most valuable thing there was save for good health. It was in this environment that “The Last Dance,” the 10-part documentary about Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, thrived.
Given the subject matter and the extensive time put into its production, the project was going to be a success pretty much no matter what, but it became a phenomenon in a time where there was little for so many people to do besides watch TV. But despite wide acclaim, not everyone was a fan. That includes one of the documentary’s main subjects, Scottie Pippen.
In a recent interview with The Guardian, Pippen says he shared those feeling with Jordan:
How accurate was the The Last Dance in showing what went on?
I don’t think it was that accurate in terms of really defining what was accomplished in one of the greatest eras of basketball, but also by two of the greatest players – and one could even put that aside and say the greatest team of all time. I didn’t think those things stood out in the documentary. I thought it was more about Michael trying to uplift himself and to be glorified [the series was co-produced by Jordan’s Jump 23 company]. I think it also backfired to some degree in that people got a chance to see what kind of personality Michael had.
Have you spoken to him about your opinion of series?
Yeah. I told him I wasn’t too pleased with it. He accepted it. He said, “hey, you’re right”. That was pretty much it.
First of all, just an amazing reaction from Jordan. That’s awesome.
As for Pippen’s critique, he’s 100 percent correct. “The Last Dance,” was an enjoyable watch for the nostalgia factor, and the ability to relive one of the game’s greatest teams and players. There was a whole bunch of never-before-seen footage and it was cool to go behind the scenes on some of those classic moments.
But it wasn’t terribly enlightening, or some sort of journalistic masterpiece. And, in truth, it was never going to be that. When then-NBA Entertainment employee Adam Silver brokered the deal with Jordan to allow a film crew to document that Bulls team’s final season together, part of the arrangement was that Jordan could control the rights. To get Jordan’s approval to use the footage, you were always going to end up with this kind of film.
We didn’t get the best possible documentary about this team or Jordan, but we got to see all the rare clips. That was the trade-off; it is what it is.