The sports world collectively cheered when it was announced we’d get ‘The Last Dance’ — a look at Michael Jordan’s last Chicago Bulls title — earlier than expected.
The long-awaited documentary was initially scheduled to air before the NBA Finals, but with the season in limbo and fans desperate for content, Netflix and ESPN made the call to bring it to the masses, beginning April 20 at 6:01pm (AEDT).
But according to The Ringer’s Bill Simmons, this is a project that could have come out years ago, and one that might only be on our screens because of LeBron James.
“I’m really glad they’re doing this,” Simmons, who worked at ESPN before starting The Ringer, said on the ‘The Herd’ with Colin Cowherd.
“We tried to do it after we finished the first ‘30 for 30’ series and we had everything going in 2009. We knew about this documentary that NBA Entertainment had. They had filmed his whole season, they had all this behind the scenes stuff.
“So, we got a copy of it — we watched it — and the behind the scenes stuff, it was the real Jordan, the homicidally competitive Jordan; the guy yelling at his teammates, it was all the stuff that we’d always heard about, but I’d never seen.
“And we were just like, ‘how do we get this made?’
“Jordan never wanted it. And I think what happened, middle of the decade, especially after LeBron won that Cavs title [is] when things really started to shift, all of a sudden there was as MJ vs. LeBron argument.
“I think for the first time Jordan and his camp realised, ‘oh, we’ve got to protect our legacy here.’”
The documentary is nearly a quarter-century in the making. It was born in the fall of 1997 when Jordan, Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf and coach Phil Jackson allowed an NBA Entertainment film crew permission to follow the team all season.
The series will include never-before-seen footage from that season, one where the team chased its sixth championship in a span of eight years.
“April 19th can’t come fast enough. I CAN NOT WAIT!!” LeBron James tweeted upon hearing news of the series’ long-awaited release.