“The Last Dance” perfectly captures mystique of Chicago Bulls dynasty

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ESPN

"The Last Dance" is streaming now on Netflix and ESPN.

The Chicago Bulls have a special place in the heart of the city of Chicago for the team’s rich basketball history, which has made the Bulls one of the most iconic NBA franchises of all time. It wasn’t always that way. In the early 1980s, the team was selling fewer tickets than an indoor soccer league. 

That all started to change in 1984 when Michael Jordan joined the Bulls following an exceptional college stint with North Carolina, and started on the path to become who many consider to be the greatest basketball player of all time. As Jordan quickly flourished among legendary competition and separated himself from the rest, the team’s success rapidly grew under his high standards. 

By 1994 the Chicago Bulls had earned three consecutive NBA championships. This was followed by a roughly two-year retirement for Jordan, but his return led to another three-peat — adding up to six total championships in eight years. 

A private camera crew documented the 1997-98 final championship season of the Chicago Bulls and captured all of the drama between the players, the staff and the media with the uncertain future of the team at stake. This footage is what has become “The Last Dance,” a 10-part ESPN documentary series which perfectly captures the essence and mystique of one of the greatest sports dynasties of all time to recall for those who once witnessed it and to teach those who did not. 

via ESPN

Each episode covers part of the 1997-98 Bulls season using their footage and a wide array of sources to give their input and help narrate the story. The documentary also goes back to the history of the Chicago Bulls and the players and staff on the team that year, using their background to fully detail and understand the feelings and concerns of the documented season. 

Even with Michael Jordan as the obvious center of attention, they are able to not only use perspectives from outside looking in, but also from his perspective looking out. They also do the same with the rest of the Bulls personnel in a balanced manner for a full overview and insight of the team. This spreads out their different backgrounds and histories leading up to that point throughout different episodes in a relevant and timely way. 

The mix of narrative storytelling through real players, coaches and staff from that time and incredible collection of visual storytelling elements all combine extremely well when watching the series.”

The mix of narrative storytelling through real players, coaches and staff from that time and incredible collection of visual storytelling elements all combine extremely well when watching the series. Overall, the amount of detail given in the documentary makes the viewer feel fully immersed in a time when there isn’t an NBA season to be immersed in. 

Two documentary episodes have been released per week live on ESPN for each of the last four weeks. These eight are currently free to watch and available on ESPN3, with the final two releasing next Sunday, May 17. So while most Chicago sports are on hold, “The Last Dance,” may be able to take avid Chicago sports fans back to the glory days.