Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Students weigh in on Michael Jordan documentary

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Since part one was released on April 19, the documentary has been one of the most talked about topics on Twitter, with seemingly everyone weighing in. Featuring the likes of the controversial yet talented Dennis Rodman, the “Zen Master” coach Phil Jackson, to arguably the greatest player of all time, in Michael Jordan, the docu-series has taken the sports world by storm.

Redhawks weigh in on Michael Jordan’s “The Last Dance,” a 10-part documentary on the career of MJ and the 1997-98 NBA champion Chicago Bulls.

The documentary focuses on the 1997-1998 season, yet constantly going back in time to tell the full story of everything leading up to that season.

Many Southeast students did not grow up watching the peak of Jordan’s career in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and have learned a thing or two about “Air Jordan” through the documentary.

“I wasn't born until 2000, I never saw Jordan play,” junior Clay Herrell said. “Watching this, it's been really interesting to kind of see the dynamic with Jordan and his teammates and kind of how he approached the game.”

Jordan has been well-documented throughout the ages, winning six NBA Championships, being the poster child of Gatorade and creating one of the largest shoe brands ever in “Jordan.” The 1993 NBA Most Valuable Player and friend of Jordan Charles Barkley proclaimed there have only been two athletes ever to receive that level of celebrity status — Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods.

Senior Clayton Vogt believed the thing he has learned the most about Jordan is how he entered the league his rookie season in 1984 and was already the best player in the league.

“I think his rise of greatness came from him knowing he was the best player in the league right when he started,” Vogt said.

Junior Thomas Eutzy was surprised to learn how focused Jordan was from a young age in the NBA.

“He didn’t really spend time in his early years going out and partying or anything like that,” Eutzy said. “He was just really focused on basketball.”

One of the biggest storylines so far in the documentary is how the Bulls, despite winning championships, had a serious organizational problem. Jerry Krause, the Bulls general manager, wanted not only to trade Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen but to also get rid of Hall of Fame coach Phil Jackson in an attempt to prove his belief that “organizations win championships, not players,” according to Krause.

Before the 1997-1998 season, coach Phil Jackson was made aware that, despite winning five championships with the team, he would not be coming back the next season. He told the team this by writing on a whiteboard “The Last Dance” in the team’s first meeting before the season. Jordan said he wouldn’t play for another coach aside from Jackson, and from then on, the team knew for many of them, this would be their last season together.

“I didn’t think it was very smart, because obviously they're winning championships, but I think it kind of shows that some people want to use their power for their own good and not other people,” junior Kade Fleming said.

Herrell found it interesting, as the documentary details that Jordan and Pippen would regularly bully players on other teams that Jerry Krause would want to bring in.

“I think it's interesting because whoever Jerry Kraus liked, he made Jordan hate. So I'm starting to wonder if Jerry Krause should have got more praise because he was making Jordan and Pippen play out of their mind [always],” Herrell said.

Senior Kyle Skibinski was taken back by learning how the Bulls, despite winning six championships between 1991 and 1998, still deteriorated from the inside out.

“That's been a pretty wild revelation for me. I had no idea that they had that much animosity towards the GM and how much he actually wanted to rebuild the team,” Skibinski said. “And how many times he tried to supposedly try to trade Scottie Pippen.”

Fleming believes the biggest thing he learned in this documentary was how underpaid Scottie Pippen was. The future Hall of Famer was reported to be ranked No. 122 in annual salary in the NBA for the 1997 season according to the documentary.

“I think that just kind of blew my mind how he was toyed with and not just paid at all,” Fleming said.

There have been a lot of words to describe the documentary so far, but Fleming believes it is more than worth the watch.

“It is truly amazing … I never got to see him play,” Fleming said. “I think it is just super cool to see the behind the scenes and how the team was together.”

The documentary will air parts seven and eight on Sunday night, starting at 8 p.m. on ESPN.