During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, ESPN’s The Last Dance — which chronicled the final year of the Chicago Bulls‘ 1990s dynasty — was the great unifier for sports fans. It was just what the doctor ordered for locked-down people yearning for simpler times.
The 10-part docu-series was met with high praise; it currently holds a critical score of 97% on Rotten Tomatoes. Not everyone shared the same enthusiasm for the program’s content, however.
For his part, Bulls legend Scottie Pippen thinks that the presentation left something to be desired. And he’s taking aim at Michael Jordan for the shortfall.
On Tuesday, an excerpt from Pippen’s forthcoming memoir, Unguarded, hit the web via GQ. In the clip, the Hall of Famer shot hard on his iconic former teammate for turning the series into a vanity project.
Telling His Story
As Pippen sees it, Jordan leaned on the creative control producers had given him to ensure that The Last Dance was less a story about the Bulls and their run to the 1998 NBA championship and more a hype piece for his own GOAT candidacy:
My years in Chicago, beginning as a rookie in the fall of 1987, were the most rewarding of my career: twelve men coming together as one, fulfilling the dreams we had as kids in playgrounds across the land when all we needed was a ball, a basket, and our imagination. To be a member of the Bulls during the 1990s was to be part of something magical. For our times and for all time.
Except Michael was determined to prove to the current generation of fans that he was larger-than-life during his day—and still larger than LeBron James, the player many consider his equal, if not superior. So Michael presented his story, not the story of the “Last Dance,” as our coach, Phil Jackson, billed the 1997–98 season…
Pippen revealed that ESPN had sent him links to the first several episodes of the series in advance of its April 19, 2020 premiere. Needless to say, they weren’t quite what he had expected.
“As I watched the doc at home in Southern California with my three teenage boys, I couldn’t believe my eyes,” he wrote.
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Pippen: MJ Didn’t Do It Alone
After the initial shock wore off, Pippen concluded that the documentary’s direction was just more of the same from Jordan. An extension of what he and others had experienced during their playing days.
I spent a lot of time around the man. I knew what made him tick. How naïve I was to expect anything else.
Each episode was the same: Michael on a pedestal, his teammates secondary, smaller, the message no different from when he referred to us back then as his “supporting cast.”
Pippen went on to write that Jordan wouldn’t be where he was without his teammates, lamenting the Last Dance treatment that he and others had received. “Living through it the first time was insulting enough.”
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