Of the millions of things Americans have consumed during the last couple of months on television, I have found myself transfixed to the Michael Jordan series “The Last Dance,” on ESPN. I’ll go ahead and confide that I didn’t watch the Tiger King. Not my cup of tea. I’ve watched many old movies and TV series in their whole, but this series with Jordan was something different.
I was covering sports during that time and had many friends who covered the NBA and NFL then.
“The Last Dance,” is depicted as a “documentary.”
I place the word documentary in quotes because I don’t actually think it’s one. The subject of a documentary isn’t supposed to have control over the content. This series, however entertaining, has been completely narrated from Jordan’s point of view. Although you see some cracks in his persona in the series, they are very small compared to what actually happened and what actually was going on behind the scenes.
I say these things with certain knowledge of the characters involved in the story as well as I have common sense.
Sports reporters, commentators and others depicted in the series, and who covered him during his playing days had to bow down to certain pressures during their coverage of Jordan or they would be shut out of his accessibility. Of course that led to several of Jordan’s more illicit and shadier activities being pushed aside.
Michael Jordan left the Bulls in 1994 to play baseball in Birmingham, Alabama. He was actually a decent player and according to now Hall of Fame manager Terry Francona, who was Jordan’s manager during that season, Jordan could have been a major leaguer. But, the circumstances surrounding that romp in baseball have to be a little clouded since it happened right after Jordan’s father was murdered and stories about his alleged gambling surfaced. That part of his life was somehow, in my opinion, softened during the series.
Many unbiased reporters point to the gambling as a possible reason for his father’s murder and also a suspension from the NBA for that same gambling. It was ironic that the same people who owned the Bulls also owned the White Sox for which he played. What better way to satisfy a suspension and keep your absolute star in the fold and away from embarrassment. Remember, although the NBA is a household routine now, it was still finding its way into a new era after the Magic Johnson-Larry Bird rein had started to wind down. The NBA could not afford for its biggest star to be turned out on gambling charges, it just seemed very coincidental. Not to mention Jordan had already had runins with the Bulls management teams and ownership, this almost seemed like a peace treaty.
While I didn’t waste my time on Tiger King and many of the other things coming across our televisions during this difficult time, I found this almost the perfect antidote for me being an absolute sports freak. I enjoyed my time watching the series and I’m sure not everyone has finished watching it all so I won’t spoil anything, but in my mind, I almost have more questions now than when I did when I started watching.
If you see me, say “Hey!”
Dee McLelland is the Publisher of the Coastal Courier and the Bryan County News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.