Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Illustration for article titled The History Of Baseball Was Documented In 9 Episodes. Why Do We Need 10 About The 1997-98 Bulls?

Despite ample time on my hands, I’m not sure I’ll be able to get through The Last Dance.

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10 episodes?

Can you think of the last great doc-series you watched over 10 episodes?

Tiger King was a binge worthy seven episodes. ESPN’s Oscar winner OJ: Made in America was six. Ken Burns explained the entire history of baseball in nine. War, race relations, work stoppages and nearly 150 years of U.S. history were covered in that marathon TV series. I know the 1997-98 Bulls were a great team, but 10 episodes?

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Like you, I’ve been in quarantine for weeks now. I’ve read books, binged TV shows, tried to catch up on chores and I have about three pairs of sweatpants I’ve worn since early March.

I’m not ashamed.

Yet.

I have time on my hands. But, I’m not itching to get in front of a TV to watch the newest 30 for 30. To be honest, I haven’t seen the first two episodes. I’m waiting to watch them on Netflix (it’s true, millennials can’t stand commercials).

And maybe that’s the problem. I was three in 1998 and I’ve never seen Jordan play a professional basketball game. But I don’t know if I need hours of footage and countless celebrities and politicians to tell me this was a special team.

The trailer leading into the series didn’t do much besides showcase a lot of interviews with famous ballplayers and cultural figures. Bravo! That content might take an hour of my time, but definitely not 10+.

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Part of the problem I have with the series is that it seems so predictable. I know how that Bulls season ended (Google it). I know what I’ll get from the NBA vault and I know the kinds of conversations the story will start.

Let’s begin with the obvious. There will be archival footage somewhere in the movie that confirms the theories we’ve all held about Jordan and the 1990s Bulls. Clips will show that Jordan’s competitiveness bordered on sociopathic. Dennis Rodman was genuinely crazy. Jordan will beat the Jazz. Again.

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Without question, the ’98 Bulls were the greatest basketball team, but does that make them interesting? Imagine a 10-part documentary on the early 21st century Patriots. A Bill Belichick tell-all. Fascinating.

Are there opportunities for surprise and never expected footage? In 10 episodes, it’s definitely possible. But when I eventually turn on Episode 1, I’ll feel like I’m throwing my own surprise party.

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Once this series wraps up 10,000 years from now (or in one month), another predictable conversation will resurface; MJ v LeBron. Don’t kid yourself, sports will not be back by May 17. And no, Wrestlemania is not a sport. Without live sports, the talking heads of mainstream sports media will have another field day with MJ vs LeBron. Some are already salivating at the chance to dive into this black hole of sports talk.

The media is obsessed with MJ vs Lebron. It’s part of the reason ESPN moved up the mega-doc to quarantine o’clock instead of July. They want us all to treat this Sunday night screening like it’s Sunday Night Football.

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Yes, the absence of sports has sucked. Big time. But don’t get it twisted — The Last Dance is not worthy of our live tweets, our debates, and our hot takes (excluding mine, of course). We know how this story ends. There is no upset, no game winner, and no most valuable character award.

If you would like to pretend that a 10-part documentary is a vehicle for distraction in these times, that’s your prerogative and I don’t blame you. I’m going to watch it because, well, it’s my job now. And I sincerely hope I’m entertained.

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The Last Dance looks good, but let’s hold off on calling it a “marvel.”

How about we see if we can get through 10 episodes first?

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