AS THE WORLD continues to grapple with the growing concern over the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, American sports channel ESPN hopes to provide some form of escape by moving up the showing of the much-anticipated documentary series The Last Dance.
The 10-part series about basketball legend Michael Jordan and his 1990s Chicago Bulls squad will now be shown beginning April 19, much earlier than its original intended screening date in June.
ESPN said by doing so it would be providing people who are longing for their steady fix of live sporting events with a temporary reprieve from the cloud of uncertainty and concern that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought.
“As society navigates this time without live sports, viewers are still looking to the sports world to escape and enjoy a collective experience. We’ve heard the calls from fans asking us to move up the release date for this series, and we’re happy to announce that we’ve been able to accelerate the production schedule to do just that,” said ESPN in a statement as it announced the early release of The Last Dance.
“This project celebrates one of the greatest players and dynasties ever, and we hope it can serve as a unifying entertainment experience to fill the role that sports often play in our lives, telling a story that will captivate everyone, not just sports fans,” it added.
To reach more people, the documentary series has been made available outside of the United States as well by way of Netflix.
The Last Dance chronicles the quest of Jordan and the Bulls and features never-before-seen footage from the 1997–98 season as the team pursued its sixth NBA championship in eight years.
It was directed by Emmy Award-winning director Jason Hehir whose body of work includes The Fab Five, The ’85 Bears and André the Giant.
The series takes the audience to Jordan’s early roots as player, how he built his legend with the Bulls, showing their struggles as a team after drafting “MJ” in the 1984 draft and eventual ascent to the NBA summit.
It provides the backdrop for the inside tale of the 1998 championship run, with extensive profiles of Jordan’s key teammates including Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman and Steve Kerr, head coach Phil Jackson, and featuring dozens of current-day interviews with rivals and luminaries from basketball and beyond.
All throughout the documentary, the tension and conflict that defined that final championship run, culminating in the six-game conquest of the Utah Jazz in the finals, are very much on display.
“Michael Jordan and the ‘90s Bulls weren’t just sports superstars, they were a global phenomenon,” said Mr. Hehir.
“Making The Last Dance was an incredible opportunity to explore the extraordinary impact of one man and one team. For nearly three years, we searched far and wide to present the definitive story of an era-defining dynasty and to present these sports heroes as humans. I hope viewers enjoy watching our series as much as we enjoyed the opportunity to make it,” he added.
The Last Dance runs for five weeks over ESPN until May 17. Outside of the US over Netflix, episodes 1 and 2 will be aired on April 20 and succeeding episodes every week after until May 18. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo