ESPN has only treated us to a couple of episodes of The Last Dance since mercifully deciding to roll out the docuseries earlier than anticipated, and while I’ll have to wait until the entire thing has aired to know for sure, it seems like there’s a very good chance it could dethrone Space Jam to take the top spot on my “Best Media Productions Tangentially Related To One Of Michael Jordan’s Retirements” rankings.
Jordan did ultimately return to the NBA after calling it quits for the second time after closing out his time with the Bulls in 1998 by winning his sixth championship while capping off the franchise’s second three-peat of the decade but I think a lot of people would’ve been fine (and some may have even preferred) if he hadn’t thrown on a Wizards jersey for a couple of seasons before officially walking away from the game.
There was a ton of hype leading up to the premiere of The Last Dance and it seemed like every single person who’s had even the briefest of encounters with Jordan has recently shared an anecdote about what it’s like to interact with him—many of which only add to the legend of one of the most ruthlessly competitive people to ever walk the planet.
When you’re arguably the best basketball player of all time, I think you’re allowed to be a little arrogant, but over the years, plenty of evidence has emerged to suggest MJ skews toward the “raging asshole” end of the spectrum thanks to stories about his terrible tipping etiquette, his refusal to take a photo with Chamillionaire, and a Hall of Fame speech that was primarily fueled by pettiness.
However, Jordan appeared to reevaluate things after becoming a grandfather and has helped rehabilitate his image a bit by putting the estimated $2.1 billion he has to his name to good use, as he’s contributed millions of dollars to hurricane relief efforts over the past couple of years in addition to benefiting a number of other charitable causes.
Jordan only agreed to allow cameras to follow him during his last year in Chicago if he was allowed to dictate how the footage was used and it took a couple of decades to convince him to sit down and reflect on the season. He reportedly agreed to do it because he was impressed with the Allen Iverson documentary The Last Dance producer Mike Tollin had made, but according to Forbes, he may have had some additional incentive thanks to the rumored $3 to $4 million he got for his involvement.
However, the outlet also reports that His Airness won’t be pocketing any of the money he’ll make from the series, as he’ll instead be donating it to an unspecified charity. Say what you will about his questionable treatment of people in the past but at least he’s making up for lost time in a big way.