“Like Mike. If I could be like Mike…”
The jingle from that classic Gatorade commercial always brings back fond memories of playing basketball as a teenager in the 90’s.
And back then, we all wanted to be like Mike. Michael Jordan was a living legend.
My friends and I emulated his game to the best of our abilities. Although we couldn’t fly like Mike, (dunks from the free-throw line are an impossibility for mere mortals), we spent countless hours in the driveway practicing fade-aways and pull-up jump shots.
You’ll find a few contrarians out there, but the majority of pundits and basketball historians agree that Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time.
A cultural icon, Michael Jordan was, and is, bigger than basketball. He transcended the game and established a legacy unlike any athlete in history.
Nearly two decades after his retirement, he remains one of the most popular figures in society. The Jordan brand is a fashion staple, and the Jumpman logo is one of the most recognized symbols on the planet.
A Better Era
In the 1990’s, Jordan and the Chicago Bulls were a force to be reckoned with, winning an incredible six championships during the decade.
For those of us who grew up watching Jordan, he’s the personification of a better era of basketball. Most basketball fans over the age of 30 would agree that today’s NBA just doesn’t compare to the NBA of the 90’s. Back then, it was a different and better game.
But, that’s just how it always is. It’s the nostalgia factor. We romanticize the past. Things were always better during the days of our youth, the good old days.
I think Andy Benard said it best in the final episode of The Office, “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them”.
Very soon, basketball fans will be able to relive part of the good old days. ESPN is giving a magnificent gift to the sports-deprived population.
The Last Dance
On Sunday, April 19th, ESPN is airing a 10-part documentary series about rise of Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls called “The Last Dance”.
The documentary pays particular attention to the 1997-98 season, the final season of the Bulls dynasty and the last of Jordan’s six NBA championships.
At that time, it was well-known that the 97-98 season would likely be the finale of Jordan’s illustrious career with the Bulls, so an NBA Entertainment camera crew was embedded with the team.
Most of the footage they captured has been sitting in a vault for over two decades and was never released. Until now.
And not a moment too soon.
How to Watch
You can watch The Last Dance on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN.com, and the ESPN App. The series will air on Sunday nights over a five-week period from April 19th to May 17th
Per ESPN, here’s a breakdown of the schedule: (all times Eastern)
Sunday, April 19
- Episodes 1 & 2: 9 p.m.
Sunday, April 26
- Episodes 1 & 2 Re-air: 7 p.m.
- Episodes 3 & 4: 9 p.m.
Sunday, May 3
- Episodes 3 & 4 Re-air: 7 p.m.
- Episodes 5 & 6: 9 p.m.
Sunday, May 10
- Episodes 5 & 6 Re-air: 7 p.m.
- Episodes 7 & 8: 9 p.m.
Sunday, May 17
- Episodes 7 & 8 Re-air 7 p.m.
- Episodes 9 & 10: 9 p.m.
A word of warning: NBA players and coaches cuss. A lot. ESPN isn’t editing any of it out. The Last Dance will be uncensored. All the expletives, all the F-bombs. No “beeps.” Viewer discretion is advised.
For those who prefer to do without the language, a clean, edited version will be airing on ESPN2 at the same time.
The Perfect Remedy
It’s no secret we are in uncharted waters at the moment. The current climate is unlike anything we’ve ever seen. COVID-19 has halted all levels of sport and competition. Fans are starved for content.
The Last Dance was originally set to debut in June. But, given our current situation, ESPN decided to release the docu-series two months early. And us 90’s kids are forever grateful.
The current sports environment combined with the nostalgia factor all but guarantees The Last Dance will draw massive ratings. This is the perfect medicine for our sports withdrawals.
Personally, I haven’t anticipated a television event like this in a long, long time.