On Sunday, a nation starved for basketball was gifted with the first two episodes of ESPN’s “The Last Dance”, the most recent in a long line of documentaries meant to chronicle the life of an individual who seemed to transcend space and time all those years ago. Indeed, none shown brighter than Michael Jordan in his prime; slim, vibrant, a twinkle in his eye and a considerable bop in his step.
As someone who lived it, I was immediately struck with the realization that this was not meant for me, or anyone in my generation. But, rather, those who became aware of Mike after the glow of his dominance had faded into the background radiance of LeBron’s ascendance.
However, at least astronomically speaking, a brighter star in the current frame doesn’t necessarily make for a bigger star.
The facts of Michael Jordan’s professional life were well known, as well as his accomplishments as a businessman off the court. However, thus far, this documentary appears to have far more of an intimate feel to it than similar works of the past.
From Michael Jordan’s mother Delores referring to her late husband James as Mr. Jordan, to hearing Jordan and his brothers discuss how competitive they were with one another as children, this documentary goes where even such awarding-winning documentaries as “Come Fly With Me (1989), the standard, and all the more than ten other Michael Jordan documentaries that have been produced over the years.
On Twitter, men and women starving for basketball of any sort commented feverishly throughout the night as the first two episodes reignited a forgotten part of ourselves long lost as the pragmatism of adulthood told us to put childish things away.
#TheLastDance … Mike really was different different
— Damian Lillard (@Dame_Lillard) April 20, 2020
Clyde Frazier said he wouldn’t carry a team in the NBA….?????
— Quentin Richardson (@QRich) April 20, 2020
Michael Jordan’s Last Dance was fantastic and I loved all two hours of it!! Young fans that never got to see Michael play now understand why he’s the ? of basketball!
— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) April 20, 2020
Indeed, basketball. A child’s game played by grown men. But when we were watching young Michael Jordan, his walk, his sneakers, his gold chains, his overall cultural impact on young people in general, Black boys in particular. Players on all levels began shaving their heads, young girls and boys ballplayers began wearing bigger shorts to try to emulate him.
The visceral feeling of watching all those highlights was undeniable and hearing Michael speak on things that he has never spoken of, and in a manner that most have never heard him speak in, is impactful.
We’ve only gotten through the first two episodes thus far and can only wait in anticipation as to the full scope of “The Last Dance” until we watch the other eight.