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[Jordan/Bulls Documentary] 'The Last Dance'

Discussion in 'NBA Dish' started by J.R., Apr 16, 2020.

  1. J.R.

    J.R. Contributing Member

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    ESPN's Michael Jordan documentary "The Last Dance" will debut on April 19 at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN.

    The 10-part documentary series takes an in-depth look at the the Chicago Bulls' dynasty through the lens of the final championship season in 1997-98. The Bulls allowed an NBA Entertainment crew to follow the team around for that entire season, and some of that never-before-seen footage will be featured in the documentary.

    In addition, ESPN spoke to more than 100 people close to the team and personalities who experienced the run, exploring all angles of the Jordan phenomenon.

    The full episodic documentary will air on ESPN in the U.S. and on Netflix outside of the U.S.


    Sunday, April 19
    9 p.m. ET | Premiere of "The Last Dance" Episode 1
    10 p.m. ET | Premiere of "The Last Dance" Episode 2

    Sunday, April 26
    7 p.m. ET| Re-air of "The Last Dance" Episode 1
    8 p.m. ET | Re-air of "The Last Dance" Episode 2

    9 p.m. ET | Premiere of "The Last Dance" Episode 3
    10 p.m. ET | Premiere of "The Last Dance" Episode 4

    Sunday, May 3
    7 p.m. ET | Re-air of "The Last Dance" Episode 3
    8 p.m. ET | Re-air of "The Last Dance" Episode 4

    9 p.m. ET | Premiere of "The Last Dance" Episode 5
    10 p.m. ET | Premiere of "The Last Dance" Episode 6

    Sunday, May 10
    7 p.m. ET | Re-air of "The Last Dance" Episode 5
    8 p.m. ET | Re-air of "The Last Dance" Episode 6

    9 p.m. ET | Premiere of "The Last Dance" Episode 7
    10 p.m. ET | Premiere of "The Last Dance" Episode 8

    Sunday, May 17
    7 p.m. ET | Re-air of "The Last Dance" Episode 7
    8 p.m. ET | Re-air of "The Last Dance" Episode 8

    9 p.m. ET | Premiere of "The Last Dance" Episode 9
    10 p.m. ET | Premiere of "The Last Dance" Episode 10

    Netflix (outside of the U.S.)
    Monday, April 20 | 12:01 a.m. PT | "The Last Dance" Episodes 1 and 2
    Monday, April 27 12:01 a.m. PT | "The Last Dance" Episodes 3 and 4
    Monday, May 4 | 12:01 a.m. PT | "The Last Dance" Episodes 5 and 6
    Monday, May 11 | 12:01 a.m. PT | "The Last Dance" Episodes 7 and 8
    Monday, May 18 | 12:01 a.m. PT | "The Last Dance" Episodes 9 and 10


     
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  2. J.R.

    J.R. Contributing Member

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    Michael Jordan says upcoming documentary 'The Last Dance' will make people think he's a 'horrible guy'

    While the upcoming 10-part documentary on the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls season, The Last Dance, is highly anticipated, the star of the series, NBA icon Michael Jordan, is concerned that the series doesn't paint the prettiest picture of him as a teammate. Jordan was notoriously competitive, and just as he held himself to an extremely high standard during his playing days, he did the same with his teammates. And while he did win six NBA titles leading the Bulls with that style, it could seem a bit extreme or excessive to an average observer.

    "When people see this footage I'm not sure they're going to be able to understand why I was so intense, why I did the things I did, why I acted the way I acted, and why I said the things I said," Jordan said, via director Jason Hehir in an interview with Richard Deitsch of The Athletic.

    "When you see the footage of [me riding with Scott Burrell], you're going to think that I'm a horrible guy. But you have to realize that the reason why I was treating him like that is because I needed him to be tough in the playoffs and we're facing the Indiana's and Miami's and New York's in the Eastern Conference. He needed to be tough and I needed to know that I could count on him. And those are the kind of things where people see me acting the way I acted in practice, they're not going to understand it."

    The way Jordan saw it, once a player joined the Bulls, there was a certain standard that they had to live up to, and if that standard wasn't met, it was his job to step in, as he explained during the seventh episode of the documentary.

    "Look, winning has a price," Jordan said in the documentary. "And leadership has a price. So I pulled people along when they didn't want to be pulled. I challenged people when they didn't want to be challenged. And I earned that right because my teammates who came after me didn't endure all the things that I endured. Once you joined the team, you lived at a certain standard that I played the game. And I wasn't going to take any less. Now, if that means I had to go in there and get in your ass a little bit, then I did that. You ask all my teammates. The one thing about Michael Jordan was he never asked me to do something that he didn't f–king do.

    "When people see this they are going say, 'Well he wasn't really a nice guy. He may have been a tyrant.' Well, that's you. Because you never won anything. I wanted to win, but I wanted them to win to be a part of that as well. Look, I don't have to do this. I am only doing it because it is who I am. That's how I played the game. That was my mentality. If you don't want to play that way, don't play that way."
     
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  3. J.R.

    J.R. Contributing Member

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    MICHAEL JORDAN SKIPPED WHITE HOUSE VISIT TO PLAY GOLF WITH MAN LATER CONVICTED FOR MONEY LAUNDERING, 'THE LAST DANCE' REVEALS

    Long before visiting the White House became a thorny political issue for championship-winning teams, Michael Jordan skipped team receptions at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to play golf.

    After the Chicago Bulls won their first NBA title in 1991, the team was invited to the White House by then-President George H.W. Bush. However, when the Bulls attended the reception at the beginning of October, Jordan did not travel to Washington, D.C. and his absence was put down to a family vacation that had long been scheduled.

    The real reason behind Jordan's no-show, however, is revealed in ESPN's "The Last Dance" documentary. The 10-part series, which premieres on ESPN and ABC at 9 p.m. ET this Sunday, chronicles the final season of Jordan's career with the Bulls, which culminates with the team winning a sixth NBA title in the summer of 1998.

    The documentary reveals that instead of being on vacation with his family, Jordan was instead playing golf with James "Slim" Bouler.

    In October 1991, the federal government seized a $57,000 check from Jordan to Bouler, which both claimed was a loan for a golf-driving range. When the latter was charged with money-laundering and drug charges Jordan was called to testify 12 months later and told a Federal court the check covered gambling losses from a weekend of golf and poker he had spent with Bouler at a resort in Hilton Head, South Carolina.

    "For what I lost on gambling and golf and later in poker when he loaned me some money," Jordan told James Wyatt, the defense attorney, when asked what the sum was for, as per The New York Times.

    "I didn't have any money."

    When asked by U.S. Attorney Frank Whitney why he had originally reported the money as a loan, Jordan acknowledged he was trying to avoid damaging his reputation.

    "It was not represented as a loan at all," he said. "It was my immediate reaction to the media after a game to save embarrassment and pain, and the connection to gambling."

    Charged with money laundering and conspiracy to distribute over 11 pounds of cocaine, Bouler was found guilty of the former but acquitted of the latter charge.

    Jordan's relationship with gambling became well publicized during the mid-1990s when Richard Esquinas, the former general manager of the San Diego Sports Arena, claimed the Bulls star had lost $1.2 million from gambling on golf.

    In his book Michael & Me: Our Gambling Addiction . . . My Cry For Help!, Esquinas stated Jordan and him had lost $1.25 million to him during a golf match at Aviara Golf Course in San Diego County in September 1991, which was subsequently reduced to just over $900,000 the following June when the duo met for a three-day golfing spree.

    "I'm actually playing golf with people all the time now and if they want to gamble, we gamble," Jordan said of Esquinas in The Last Dance.

    "The characters of those individuals [...] I find out later what kind of people I was playing with.

    "I learned that lesson. But the act of gambling? I didn't do anything wrong."

    At the time of the Bulls' visit to the White House, rumors over the real reason behind Jordan's absence abounded. The Chicago Tribune quoted then-Bulls head coach Phil Jackson as saying the no-show ''was a personal decision''. The report acknowledged speculations Jordan was indeed playing golf and even that he may have been persuaded not to attend by Reverend Jesse Jackson, with whom he had appeared on NBC's Saturday Night Live.

    Meanwhile, former Bulls guard Craig Hodges attributed Jordan's decision to his dislike for President Bush.

    "You know, MJ is not publicly political but he can handle his affairs where he can make a political statement," Hodges, who won the 1991 and 1992 NBA titles alongside Jordan, told Respect magazine in 2017.

    "When he didn't come to the White House, it was a statement. But once again, there was no push back from any of his sponsors or any of that because he is who he is and he is the golden goose for a lot of marketers and endorsement companies."
     
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  4. J.R.

    J.R. Contributing Member

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  5. J.R.

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    https://www.espn.com/chalk/story/_/id/29040345/mj-other-crazy-bulls-legacy-185-game-streak-know

    Of all the accomplishments chronicled in the upcoming ESPN documentary "The Last Dance," there's one streak authored by Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls that oddsmakers say will never be topped.

    Over the course of two seasons, from November 1995 to June 1997, the Bulls were favored in 185 consecutive games. It's the longest such streak in ESPN Stats and Information's odds database (dating back to 1990) -- and it's not even close.

    The Golden State Warriors own the second-longest streak of being favored in consecutive games at 89 (March 31, 2017-March 6, 2018). The Bulls' streak lasted more than twice as long.

    During their 185-game streak, the Bulls went 159-26 outright and 97-87-1 against the spread. They were favored by an average of 10.4 points per game and by less than three points only five times.

    The Bulls' streak began in 1995, Jordan's first full season back from missing essentially two seasons while playing minor league baseball. On Nov. 26, 1995, Chicago was a 2.5-point road underdog to a Seattle SuperSonics squad featuring Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp. The SuperSonics won 97-92 in what turned out to be a preview of the 1996 Finals.

    The next night, the Bulls were favored in a road game at Portland, starting the streak. Chicago would not be an underdog again until Game 3 of the 1997 Finals at the Utah Jazz.

    "I don't think we'll see something like that again," said Jeff Sherman, NBA oddsmaker and vice president of risk for the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook.

    After returning to the NBA in 1995, Jordan did not miss a game in his final three seasons. There was no load management, and the Bulls won titles in each season (1996, 1997 and 1998).

    Jordan and the Bulls: By the betting numbers

    • The '96-97 Bulls were favored by an average of 11.06 points per game in the regular season, the highest average of any team in the past 30 years.

    • No team has been a double-digit home favorite more times in a single season than the '95-96 Bulls. Chicago was favored by 10-plus points in 36 of 41 home games that season. The Bulls went 23-13 ATS in those games.

    • During their six championship seasons, the Bulls went a combined 320-281-7 against the spread (53.2%), including a 63-52-1 mark in the playoffs (54.8%).

    • Jordan missed six games during the Bulls' first three championship seasons (1991-1993). The Bulls went 1-5 straight-up and ATS in those games.

    • The Bulls were underdogs in 60 games total during their six championship seasons. In the nearly two seasons Jordan missed playing baseball, they were underdogs 67 times.

    • The Bulls were 1.5-point underdogs at Indiana in Jordan's return game (March 3, 1995). Without Jordan, the Bulls were 6.5-point underdogs to the Pacers earlier that season on Dec. 21, 1994.

    • The Bulls were 6-point home favorites over the Magic on March 24, 1995, in Jordan's third game back. When they faced Orlando in January in Chicago, without Jordan, the Bulls were 4.5-point underdogs.

    • The Bulls were 1.5-point road underdogs to the Knicks in Jordan's "double-nickel" game. Jordan scored 55 points in only his fifth game back. Chicago would not be an underdog again until the Eastern Conference semifinals at Orlando.

    • The Bulls were underdogs just three times in each of the 1995-96 and '96-97 seasons, tied with 2016-17 Warriors for the fewest games in a season as underdogs.
     
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  6. J.R.

    J.R. Contributing Member

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    ‘The Last Dance’ director Jason Hehir captures Michael Jordan from all angles

    The moment comes at the end of Episode 7. Here is Michael Jordan, as pathological and manically driven to win as any athlete in the history of sport, being asked about tradeoffs. You hear an interviewer’s voice in the background but the camera remains focused on Jordan.

    Through the years, do you think that intensity has come at the expense of being perceived as a nice guy?

    “Look, winning has a price,” says Jordan. “And leadership has a price. So I pulled people along when they didn’t want to be pulled. I challenged people when they didn’t want to be challenged. And I earned that right because my teammates who came after me didn’t endure all the things that I endured. Once you joined the team, you lived at a certain standard that I played the game. And I wasn’t going to take any less. Now if that means I had to go in there and get in your ass a little bit, then I did that. You ask all my teammates. The one thing about Michael Jordan was he never asked me to do something that he didn’t ****ing do. When people see this they are going say, ‘Well he wasn’t really a nice guy. He may have been a tyrant.’ Well, that’s you. Because you never won anything. I wanted to win, but I wanted them to win to be a part of that as well. Look, I don’t have to do this. I am only doing it because it is who I am. That’s how I played the game. That was my mentality. If you don’t want to play that way, don’t play that way.”

    Jordan then does something extraordinary, and I’m glad the filmmakers left it in. He asks for a break. He has become so emotional, near tears, that he has to get away for a moment.

    This is the quintessential scene in ESPN and Netflix’s highly anticipated 10-part documentary series, “The Last Dance,” which examines Jordan’s final season with the Bulls in 1997-98. It is ambitious and brilliant filmmaking from director Jason Hehir and rightfully lands in the conversation of the best things to air on ESPN. (The company’s Oscar-winning documentary on O.J. Simpson – “O.J.: Made In America” – still ranks at the top of that list but that is no slight to the phenomenal Jordan project.)

    In a long interview with The Athletic last week, Hehir went deep into the process of making the film. Over the course of two years, he interviewed 106 people including Jordan, who gave the filmmakers three separate interviews – one in June 2018, one in May 2019 and a final interview in December 2019. And those interviews are extraordinary.

    “The moment when he asked for a break came early in the first interview,” Hehir recalled. “To get something that raw, candid, honest and genuine out of him that early in the interview process was kind of a turning point for all of us in the crew. We all thought: ‘Wow this could be something a little bit different than just basketball. It looks like he came to participate and understands what we’re trying to do here.’ It was one of those answers where you just let the person go, almost like a therapy session. He did stop himself and say ‘break.’ And we did. I got up and left the room for a little bit. We’d been going for about 45 minutes and I knew we had at least two more hours to go. What you don’t want to do is gas out your interview subject less than an hour into it.

    “But it was so telling to me that this is what’s at this guy’s core. No matter what we discussed, it funnels back to that deep-seated drive to be the best at all costs. We were talking about his intensity as a teammate, his intensity as a competitor. We had just finished talking about the roots of his competitiveness, competing against his brother Larry for his Dad’s attention. One of the things that I was interested in exploring when we first started studying his entire story was this notion from his perspective. By all my experiences, he was a nice guy. He was very respectful to me. He was very respectful to the crew. He couldn’t have been more generous with his time and candor. I was really interested in whether or not it hurt him that the perception of him was this stone-cold killer and not as Mr. Nice Guy. The question produced probably a nine-minute answer. Was it worth to you to have that reputation for intensity and ferocity? Is it worth the tradeoff of not being considered nice guy quote unquote?”

    There are all sorts of brilliant moments like that throughout “The Last Dance.” I have viewed the first eight episodes so I can speak to only them, but I can’t imagine the final two episodes won’t equal the quality of the first eight.

    Hehir said figuring out a workable chronology for a 10-part film was the most challenging aspect of the project. His concern was not to confuse the audience given the necessity of flashing back and forth in time. The one thing the filmmakers knew was that the chronological spine of the documentary would be the 1997-98 season, the last of Jordan’s six NBA championships. The film is episodically broken up by the months of that championship season and within each of those episodes, the film flashes back in time on a particular theme or subject.

    “The 10 episodes are laid out by October, November, December, January, February, March, April, May, May, and June,” Hehir said. “There are two episodes that are dedicated to May (1998) because there’s a lot of playoff material to get to in Episodes 8 and 9. The idea of converging timelines we discussed very early in the process as being the easiest way for the viewer to process it. There are time warp graphics to help cue the viewer that the story is now going back in time. That’s how the film goes from the 1998 season to a back story.”

    The backstory on how the Jordan documentary came to be is interesting on its own. Jordan and his Bulls teammates agreed to let NBA Entertainment go behind the scenes with them for the entire 1997-98 season, which coach Phil Jackson dubbed as “The Last Dance” knowing it was the end of his time with Chicago and likely many players too. That footage had barely been seen by the public prior to this documentary and had always been considered a gold mine for documentary filmmakers (credit longtime NBA Entertainment executive Andy Thompson for coming up with the idea to embed with the Bulls that year).

    Four years ago, in July 2016, Hehir had dinner with Mike Tollin, a well-respected producer and director with a ton of sports films on his résumé after Tollin reached out to Hehir’s agent saying he wanted to meet him. Earlier that year, Tollin had pitched the idea to Jordan’s representatives about doing a documentary around the 1997-98 footage and Jordan’s signed off on doing the project.

    “I knew Jason’s name from 30 for 30 and I loved the documentary he directed on The Fab Five,” Tollin said of Hehir’s 2011 ESPN film on Michigan’s famed college basketball team from the 1990s. “I thought that was a great story that had a challenge given they only had four of the five (Chris Webber did not participate) subjects, and somehow the filmmaker had overcome that and told the story beautifully. So I wanted to meet him.”

    At that dinner, Tollin talked about doing an eight-part doc on the Bulls’ 1997-98 footage and asked Hehir what he thought such a project might look like on film. Over the next week, Hehir immersed himself in all things Jordan and presented Tollin with a 14-page outline. That impressed Tollin and led Hehir to a meeting with Estee Portnoy, Jordan’s longtime business manager, and the keeper of access to Jordan, Curtis Polk, who manages the financial and business affairs of Jordan and is an executive with Hornets, and Gregg Winik, who ran the programming and production divisions at the NBA for 16 years before forming his own production company (Winik Media) in 2006. (Tollin had made an outline of an eight-part doc on Jordan and presented it to Portnoy and Jordan before Hehir’s involvement.)

    The group flushed out more ideas about how a potential doc might work but the momentum slowed shortly afterward. So Hehir moved on to direct and produce (via his JMH Films)“Andre The Giant” that ran on HBO and was a widely acclaimed documentary. Hehir’s availability in 2018 then matched up with the timing of Jordan production partners ready to proceed with the project. Tollin called Hehir on behalf of his production company, Mandalay Sports Media, Jordan’s Jump 23 company and NBA Entertainment and asked if he’d be willing to direct the film. Hehir could not say yes fast enough.

    “At the outset, we had developed a short list of directors for this project with Mike Tollin and NBA Entertainment executives,” Polk said. “We reviewed some of their prior work and then spoke with some by phone. We then narrowed the list down and had a few in-person meetings. During Jason’s meeting, we felt he really understood our vision and had a passion for the project. It was also important to our group that this project was viewed as more than a sport’s documentary and we all felt Jason got that message. During the early stages of the process, we worked very closely with Jason and his team to ensure that our collective vision was being created. The early work on the first four episodes definitely had a lot of back and forth. Since then the process has gone a lot smoother and the pace has picked up as we developed a better working relationship.”
     
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  7. J.R.

    J.R. Contributing Member

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    Hehir said he first met with Jordan in New York City on September 27, 2017. He was getting ready to go to the gym around 6 p.m. when Portnoy called asking if Hehir could join Jordan and her at a Manhattan hotel. He quickly changed his clothes and headed uptown.

    “The elevator doors open and Michael is sitting in the lounge with his wife (Yvette Prieto) and Estee,” Hehir said. “I had known Estee for a while at this point. She introduced us and we sat down and kind of got to know each other a little bit. It was comfortable enough. The meeting took a little less than an hour. I said to him, ‘why do you want to do this?’ And he said, ‘I don’t.’ And I said, ‘Why not?’ And he said, ‘When people see this footage I’m not sure they’re going to be able to understand why I was so intense, why I did the things I did, why I acted the way I acted, and why I said the things I said.’ He said there was a guy named Scotty Burrell who he rode for the entire season and, ‘When you see the footage of it, you’re going to think that I’m a horrible guy. But you have to realize that the reason why I was treating him like that is because I needed him to be tough in the playoffs and we’re facing the Indiana’s and Miami’s and New York’s in the Eastern Conference. He needed to be tough and I needed to know that I could count on him. And those are the kind of things where people see me acting the way I acted in practice, they’re not going to understand it.’ I said to him, ‘That’s great because this is an opportunity. We have 10 hours here to peel back the onion and have you articulate all the things you just articulated to me.’

    “The conversation just kind of took off from there. He wanted to know where I was from, just some basic information about me. The next thing I know we’re talking about his ‘Republicans buy sneakers too’ comment and the feelings he had about that. We talked about his feelings on some of the rivalries. It ran the gamut of sports, basketball and non-basketball. I told my brothers it was like meeting Santa Claus for the first time. Like you’ve heard about this person, you know what he looks like, he’s iconic. But the fact that he’s an actual living, breathing human being is a bizarre thing to experience.”

    Hehir said that he believed Jordan and his team appreciated that he had studied Jordan’s life for years and had the best of intentions of telling an honest story that might be difficult to tell at times.

    “From the first moment that I spoke with Michael about this, it was clear that he was going to be a willing participant,” Hehir said. “I said to him there’s going to be some questions that may be uncomfortable for you but I have to ask them in order for us to tell the most honest story possible. He said from Day 1 that I could ask him whatever I wanted to ask. I think they trusted me enough to tell an honest, responsible story that was not going to be a puff piece but also wasn’t going to be a deliberate exposé. I said to them I wanted to tell a true story about Michael’s time as a Bull and what made him what he is, what made him who he is, and what made that team become what they became.”

    The interviews with Jordan were conducted near Jordan’s Florida home. The crew had no idea how much time Jordan would give them during that first shoot. Hehir said nothing would have surprised him. Without Jordan’s involvement, the film would be nowhere near as compelling.

    Hehir said his thinking was to head into the first interview with Jordan to get enough footage for the first four episodes. Then the next interview with Jordan would focus on the next three episodes followed by one last interview that focused on the final three chapters.

    “He was surprisingly forthcoming,” Hehir said. “Charismatic, engaging, responsive, respectful. The challenge with him is that he’s been asked every single question that you could possibly imagine. He’s answered these questions and they’re probably on tape somewhere. So I am sure in the back of his mind he’s thinking, ‘Why am I doing this? Why am I answering these same exact questions again about where I’m from and all that?’ So the challenge as an interviewer for me was how do you keep this guy stimulated or actively engaged for the duration of the interview. That’s where showing him iPad clips of other interviews came in. With Michael, anything that is a game is going to engage him. So early in the interviews, I would say one word, as sort of a call-and-response and he would give an answer as to what he thought I was talking about. Like I would say ‘hornet’s nest’ and he would laugh and then tell the story about how he and his brother shot a hornet’s nest with a B.B. gun and they got in trouble and they had stings all over their hands.

    “It was my way of demonstrating to him that I had done all the research possible about every phase of his life. He was adamant that he get the last word about these stories. Not because he wanted to skew them I think in his favor because very rarely, if at all, did he do that. But he wanted to make sure he knew who we were talking to about all these things. So instead of saying to him, ‘Isiah Thomas said that everybody walked off the court (at the end of series) in the 80s and it wasn’t a big deal,’ I showed him the clip of Isiah saying those exact words. So we can get to see like his visceral response to Isiah saying that.”

    (Jordan pretty much said Isiah was full of **** but I’ll let you enjoy that scene in Episode 4 yourself.)
     
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  8. J.R.

    J.R. Contributing Member

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    Hehir said his initial list of interview subjects was more than 200 people including suggestions from the NBA and Jordan’s camp. Think about how many people who have intersected in Jordan’s life as well as Scottie Pippen, Jackson, Dennis Rodman and Steve Kerr, who also get extended treatment in the film. The list of interview subjects ultimately whittled down to 106. No one turned Hehir down for the film, including Barack Obama.

    “That is a Michael thing,” Hehir said. “Barack Obama is not the kind of guy that I can find his number and text him. Michael had a connection. But I was pretty adamant that we don’t have people in here who don’t have an organic connection to the story. I think the temptation is because Michael was super famous, let’s get as many super famous people in here as possible. There were conflicting philosophies amongst all the (production) partners of what makes a good documentary and what makes a documentary sizzle. I’m a filmmaker first and I just want to tell the story of this team as if they were not super famous. Who were the human beings who make up this team and how did they become famous and how did they handle that fame?

    “So that was an interesting part of this whole thing. The good thing is that we all have the common goal – that it should be fantastic and everyone should enjoy watching it. I think the temptation would be to say, well, Bill Clinton was president in the 1990s. He has to talk about Michael because he was the President when Michael was playing and he saw Michael play live. My question was, okay, what is Bill Clinton going to say that is different than any other fan would say about watching Michael play? Why should he be considered an authority on basketball just because he’s Bill Clinton? Now if Bill Clinton says I was governor of Arkansas when Scottie Pippen was in high school and I saw Scotty play, that’s organic to the story and much more interesting.”

    To this point, Clinton appears in the film talking about seeing Pippen in Arkansas while Obama, with his Chicago ties, discusses Jordan.

    Hehir said at one point his crew had more than 10,000 hours of footage. In his office, he kept a huge corkboard on the wall that had ten color-coded columns. All of the green note cards represented the 1997-98 season and the white note cards were flashback material. When the filmmakers looked at the board in full, the goal was to see a checkerboard so the film would travel back and forth in time. The ESPN format required 50-minute episodes so no doubt there will be some who wish certain stories were fleshed out deeper. Hehir said he totally understands that. One example of something Hehir would have loved to explore but didn’t was Jordan emerging as one of the best high school players in the country at a Five-Star basketball camp in 1980, the summer before his high school senior year. That was only two years after being cut from the varsity squad prior to his sophomore year.

    Hehir cited Jake Rogal, one of the producers, as the heart and soul of the project. Rogal was involved in the project from the inception, and Hehir ran every story point, creative idea, and decision by him. There were six editors working on the docu-series, led by lead editor Chad Beck. Hehir said Beck edited several episodes himself and was instrumental in how the final product looks. The project’s archival editor, Nina Kristic, was responsible for footage in the film that was rare or obscure. She played the same role for ESPN’s O.J. doc. ESPN Vice President Connor Schell told Hehir that hiring Kristic would be the best decision he made for the project.

    “There are a lot of (production) parties here and often times a lot of parties does not lead to creative excellence because you get a lot of different agendas in play,” Schell said. “Honestly, a lot of opinions isn’t always a good thing. Every step of the way there was not total harmony but everyone’s interests were aligned in making sure that this was all in effort to support Jason and create the best possible product because that was good for all of us. There were creative challenges to stay on the journey and figure out how all these different sort of stories could fit together. How do you make the timeline work when you’re going backward and forward in time? That took a while for Jason to solve. When it started to fall into place, it happened pretty quickly.”

    There are so many great scenes in the documentary and I’ll do a piece later this week that serves as a review. For example, in Episode 1, Jordan’s mother, Delores Jordan, reads aloud a letter Michael (then Mike Jordan) sent his mom while in North Carolina about being flat broke and needing stamps.

    “Watching his Mom read a letter home from him, you can see the emotion on his face just when he sees his mom and hears her voice saying he only has $20 left to his name,” Hehir said. “I said from the outset that my goal was to humanize him as much as possible because we all have our perceptions about what kind of a person he is. But I really wanted to get at the truth of who he was inside, where he came from, and what made him that kind of a person.

    Hehir said that he did not get into Jordan’s first marriage because for him there was so much to get to that was basketball-related and non-Michael related such as the backstories of Pippen, Rodman, Phil Jackson and Kerr. Jordan’s first marriage is one of the few places where an exploration would have produced a more complete picture of the subject.

    “I wasn’t interested in the opinion of any wife or kids in this,” Hehir said. “We had the storytellers we wanted and I felt like we had the story covered from every angle.”

    Hehir said Jordan has already seen the episodes that are completed and was an active note-giver to the filmmakers during the process. “And they were great notes because they weren’t overly critical – and he could add things. He could say, No, this is what I was thinking and actually go back to this game because this is a better example of that. He couldn’t have been a better partner in that respect.

    Here is one example of that. Episode 8 focuses on Jordan’s return to the Bulls in March 1995. His first game back was against Indiana and then the idea was to jump from that game on March 19 to Jordan putting up 55 (the double nickel game) against the Knicks on March 28. But Jordan told Hehir after watching a rough cut of the film that between those games, he hit a game-winner at Atlanta in his fourth game back that Jordan believed was key to him feeling like his old self. So that highlight was added to the doc.

    “It’s one thing for someone from the NBA to give me that note or a researcher,” Hehir said. “It would honestly be a great note to get from anybody. But when you get it from someone who’s giving it to you first person, that’s a different level. Those are the kind of notes that he could give. If anything he wanted to discuss more in-depth things like ‘Republicans buy sneakers, too.’ and the response that. And all the allegations (about his gambling being part of his father’s death). If you watch a lot of those stories, he’s got a different shirt on because he wanted to discuss it over the course of a couple of interviews. He did not want to shy away from it.”
     
  9. blackistan

    blackistan Member

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    Been patiently waiting for this....cant wait
     
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  10. J.R.

    J.R. Contributing Member

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    This is a big project for ESPN given the tonnage and anticipation for the project. It’s also a major project for Netflix. Canada and the rest of the world will have “The Last Dance” available on Netflix only a few hours after it airs on ESPN.

    “I’m really glad that at no point did any of us, meaning Netflix, the NBA, or any of the production partners, try to rush this,” Schell said. “I think everybody understood the ultimate defining quality of success here is if it is really good. And we feel really good about the outcome.”

    They should all feel good. It is going to be a critical hit. The only question will be how many people will watch the documentary on all of the platforms and given where the world is at the moment, a 10-part documentary on Michael Jordan sounds pretty great right now. Hehir said his next month will include inserting master footage over temp placeholders, graphics integration, sound design, audio mixing, color correction, subtitling, and closed-captioning before the television debut on ESPN.

    “I think my goal would be for people who are of a certain age, say 30 and older, to come away thinking they thought they knew the story, but there’s way more there than I realized,” Hehir said. “I think for younger people it would be I thought I knew the story of this team but I didn’t realize the true impact they had back then and how difficult it was to do what they did. Nothing that seems easy at that level is easy. I hope this film gives people a peek behind the curtain at just how much dedication it takes, just how much passion you have to have, and just how exhausting it is for everyone involved. Nothing comes easy when you are excellent at that level and I hope we showed that in an entertaining way.”

    The Ink Report

    1. Hehir passed along a list of all the subjects he interviewed for film. Below is the order in which the filmmakers shot the interviews. Not everyone from the list made the final cut. Shooting began in late June 2018 and finished in early March 2020:

    Brian McIntyre, Charley Rosen, David Stern, Bill Wennington, Jerry Reinsdorf, Rick Telander, Doug Collins, George Koehler [Jordan’s driver], Michael Jordan, Dennis Rodman, B.J. Armstrong, John Salley, Dr. Todd Boyd, James Worthy, Phil Jackson, Charles Oakley, Rod Thorn Scottie Pippen, John Paxson, Chip Schaefer, Mark Vancil, Danny Ainge, George Mumford, David Falk, Brendan Malone, Steve Kerr, Billy Packer, Larry Jordan, Ronnie Jordan, Tony Parker, Roy Williams, Fred Whitfield, Fred Lynch, Ron Cooley, Dick Neher, David Bridgers, Steve East, Joe Kleine, Ronnie Martin, Donald Wayne, Billy Pippen, Barack Obama, Sam Smith, Tim Hallam, Jim Stack, Will Perdue, Toni Kukoc, Gary Payton, Glen Rice, Sidney Moncrief, Dikembe Mutombo, Vlade Divac, Xavier McDaniel, Dominique Wilkins, Mandy Cohen, Joe Pytka, George Raveling, Magic Johnson, Nas, Carmen Electra, Sonny Vaccaro, Scott Burrell. Adam Silver, Jud Buechler, Allen Iverson, Roy Johnson, Rod Higgins, Kevin Loughery, Isiah Thomas, Jeffrey Jordan, Marcus Jordan, John Michael, Tisher Lett, Melissa Isaacson, J.A. Adande, Tim Grover, John Ligmanowsk (Bulls equipment manager), Joe O’Neil, Deloris Jordan, Dr. John Hefferon, Ahmad Rashad, Buzz Peterson, Bill Clinton, Patrick Ewing, Mike Wilbon, Mike Barnett, Terry Francona, Willow Bay, Kobe Bryant, Bill Cartwright, Ann Kerr, Pat Riley, Horace Grant, Justin Timberlake, Andrea Kremer, Larry Bird, David Aldridge, Charles Barkley, Ron Harper, Howard White, Bob Costas, Reggie Miller, Jalen Rose, Hannah Storm, Jasmine Jordan, and John Stockton.

    1a. I asked Hehir how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the film?

    “Collaboration is a huge factor in a project like this,” Hehir said. “The most important moments in the creative process often come through spontaneous ideas that are generated while we’re all sitting in a room watching a rough cut or discussing the project over lunch/dinner at the office. So the elimination of that has been tough. We do our best with Zoom meetings and text chains, but it’s not the same.

    “Logistically, the process is much more difficult since the shelter-in-place order. We’re editing the shows in sections, and we’re scattered throughout New York City, whereas we used to all be within a few feet of each other. Luckily, technology is on our side, and the post-production team has professional-level setups in their own homes. Mixing and color correction, which are usually done in multi-million dollar rooms, are now being done at home by the sound designer and colorist. It’s a more tedious process, but we have an incredible team and there’s been no drop off in the quality of the final product.”

    1b. I asked Schell how much public pressure ESPN felt to move up the date of the project:

    “I wouldn’t call it public pressure. We had a production schedule and a plan to distribute the film on off nights of the NBA Finals in June,” Schell said. “Obviously with the NBA schedule changing, it was pretty clear that that plan didn’t necessarily make sense. It made sense when we conceived it because we’d have this incredible promotional platform of the Finals to launch into what I think is the best piece of original content we’ve created or the most ambitious piece. So (ESPN President) Jimmy (Pitaro) and (executive vice president of programming and scheduling) Burke Magnus’s team are looking for ways to be relevant and reach sports fans. This is as high quality as we’ve ever conceived so we wanted to move it up. I wasn’t entirely sure that that would be possible from a production standpoint. But when Jason and Mike (Tollin) outlined a process to show us that it was possible, then it was how far back to we go to time it out right. But we did see an incredible organic fan sentiment for us to move it up, and a lot of things came together.”

    1c. The filmmakers finished a scene with Kobe Bryant in mid-January, about a week before Bryant’s death. Said Hehir: “To hear Kobe in that scene say he’s (Michael) like my big brother and then to have Michael give that famous speech that he gave at Kobe’s memorial service, saying, ‘Rest in peace, little brother,’ it just shows you how genuine that relationship was between the two of them. That scene is so much more poignant now and it was such a cool scene to begin with.”
     
  11. homewight

    homewight Contributing Member

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    Well, he is a horrible guy.
     
  12. J.R.

    J.R. Contributing Member

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    https://www.chicagotribune.com/spor...0200415-y3bq7c4so5dfznxglzyrxrcmqi-story.html

    I asked Michael, “Had you stayed around through those baseball years, could you be talking about eight in a row?” And he said, “I don’t think so.” He needed to leave for those two years to even have the opportunity for a second three-peat. Because he was gassed. Eight in a row is impossible. Unless you’re Bill Russell. But that is part of this.
     
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  13. zeeshan2

    zeeshan2 Member

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    Man when that intro music hits:

     
  14. Caesar

    Caesar Member

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    Will this be on Netflix at 12:01 am on Monday following Sundays premiere on ESPN? I'd rather watch them on Netflix with no commercials. Been jonesing for this though!
     
  15. Caesar

    Caesar Member

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    Only related to MJ, but been watching the Goat SZN youtube highlights of players best seasons and MJ's 91 season was insane.
    So many highlights unlike other players, in one season.



    It makes me wonder how many younger generation basketball fans image of MJ is that of last legs MJ and Wizards MJ as those are the most recent and also offer the most complete games and higher quality highlights. I wonder how much a final season MJ at 35 years old is really going to bring in those younger fans who will think their prime players are better and "more athletic" out of sheer ignorance.

    For me, it's an amazing look at one of MJ's most underrated career seasons in which he carried the team with most of the year. It's hard enough to win b2b but to win a 3rd in a row at that age with your team beat up is ridiculous.
    You almost could have expected a young team to finally punch through, but the way the seddings played out, you had:
    -61 win Seattle primed to come back for another shot, neck and neck with Utah all season-matching up with future star duo KG and Marbury and barely beating them. Minny showing their potential or Seattle nearly pulling another first round choke as they had twice before during 60+win seasons.

    -You had the older Knicks with some fresh blood beat the deep and primed Miami Heat with an Alan Houston game winner.

    -Larry Bird's Pacers losing only twice in the playoffs before pushing Chicago to the brink in game 7.

    You had the 60+ win young Lakers with prime Shaq easily dismantling the Sonics, but in their own story, the old man Utah Jazz would easily beat the next year champion Spurs in 5 and then sweeping Shaq and his Lakers in the conference finals. Absolutely hate the Jazz, but very underrated road to get back to the Finals. It's victories like that which make me realize how many different HOF players lack rings because of Michael Jordan and the Bulls because Karl Malone and Stockton could have easily put together their own impressive 60+ win seasons going through HOFers on their way to b2b championships or maybe Reggie winning one of those forever separating himself from future players like Klay Thompson as a guy who actually carried and led his own teams.

    What a great season other than Hakeem missing half of it and putting us in the 8th seed against Utah. Other than losing to the Bulls, we were up 2-1 in a best of 5 against the team that would beat Duncan and Robinson in 5 and sweep Shaq and Kobe and NVE and Eddie Jones. If we had Barkley, do we win and go to the finals as an 8th seed to finally see the real matchup everyone wanted to see? Twice spoiled by Utah :mad:
     
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  16. J.R.

    J.R. Contributing Member

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  17. heypartner

    heypartner Contributing Member

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  18. durvasa

    durvasa Contributing Member

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    From what I read, the Netflix release is for people outside the US.
     
  19. Caesar

    Caesar Member

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    [​IMG]
     
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  20. daywalker02

    daywalker02 Easter Egg Hunter - Tell me why? نحن عائلة
    Supporting Member

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    It worked.
     
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