On Sunday, the first two episodes of the 10-part miniseries, Last Dance, about Michael Jordan’s final season with the Chicago Bulls, will air on ESPN. And the basketball legend, apparently, wasn’t so sure about about how the doc might affect his made-for-cereal box image.
In an interview with Richard Deitsch over at The Athletic, the doc’s director, Jason Hehir, said Jordan was concerned about the series during early discussions back in 2017.
“When you see the footage of [me with Scott Burrell], you’re going to think that I’m a horrible guy,” Jordan said to Hehir at the time. “But you have to realize that the reason why I was treating him like that is because I needed him to be tough in the playoffs and we’re facing the Indiana’s and Miami’s and New York’s in the Eastern Conference. He needed to be tough and I needed to know that I could count on him. And those are the kind of things where people see me acting the way I acted in practice, they’re not going to understand it.”
Hehir also called out a moment from the seventh episode of the series in which Jordan discusses his tough leadership style. “Look, winning has a price,” Jordan says in an interview. “And leadership has a price. So I pulled people along when they didn’t want to be pulled. I challenged people when they didn’t want to be challenged. And I earned that right because my teammates who came after me didn’t endure all the things that I endured.”
The doc follows the Chicago Bulls’ winning 1997-1998 season, using behind-the-scenes footage, as well as recent interviews from former President Barack Obama, Carmen Electra (?), and Jordan himself. Hehir recently told Rolling Stone he’d gotten a few unexpected moments from Jordan during their time together, including a few laughs over an interview with former NBA player, Gary Payton, and an emotional one involving a letter he’d written to his mom while in college.
Across his career, Jordan was named the NBA Final’s MVP six times and his final championship game in 1998 remains one of the most-watched games in NBA history.
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