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Everyone needs to watch The Last Dance on Netflix, the chronicle of the Chicago Bulls’ 1997/98 season but really covers the entire run of the dynasty through the 90’s. Essential viewing for anyone with even a passing interest in sport, not just in basketball.

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Yeah, started that this week, it’s fantastic.

 

Think it also underlines how big a factor mentality is in the true greats. Jordan’s focus and will to win is startling, even for elite level sport.

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Absolutely love it so far. Jordan's sheer will to win, Pippen gaining the confidence that allowed him to shine, Rodman going off the rails when he suddenly felt like a third wheel, I don't think you even need to be that into sport to enjoy it.

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I remember everyone in the 90s wearing those oversized coats with Bulls logos etc on, this brings back alot of memories. Can't wait for the next two episodes

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Each episode starts with focusing on a person on the team, but then quickly loses that focus and seem to go all over the place. It kinda of reminds me of watching the Watchmen series.

I am enjoying it and I guess we only know at the end of the series whether it’s building something more substantial with all this layering and shifting of focus. I would like to see what could happen if you give all this material to someone like Asif Kapadia to make a succinct documentary in the vein of his Senna, Amy, and Diego Maradona.  
 

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I'd noticed that too, but I think they mostly make it work as it seems they focus on an individual and then bring you back to 98 and you understand a little more how that individual fits into the bigger picture.

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11 hours ago, Timbuktu said:

Each episode starts with focusing on a person on the team, but then quickly loses that focus and seem to go all over the place. It kinda of reminds me of watching the Watchmen series.

I am enjoying it and I guess we only know at the end of the series whether it’s building something more substantial with all this layering and shifting of focus. I would like to see what could happen if you give all this material to someone like Asif Kapadia to make a succinct documentary in the vein of his Senna, Amy, and Diego Maradona.  
 

It's actually doing something pretty clever with its focus. So it takes a point of interest from the 1997 season, say Rodman acting out when Pippin came back, then takes us back to give us a bit of insight into one particular facet of the team, then we fly forward again and see the resolution to the opening. So in this case, it's Rodman becoming more reliable when he feels like he's a key part of the team, then going off the rails when he loses that.

 

As someone who has sweet sod all clue about basketball and knows very little about anyone in that Bulls Team outside of Space Jam, it's helping me get involved and understand a lot of what was leading up to the last dance. 

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I started watching this on Friday night with my wife and kids. None of us into basketball, although I had been a huge Scottie Pippen fan back in the day. We were all transfixed. Just a great piece of documentary making with intriguing human stories throughout. It throws familiar and new characters into the mix who are all really engaging. 

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I'm so used to Scottie Pippen the affable and nice basketball pundit the last few years. This show reminded me of that time he dunked straight through Patrick Ewings soul then turned to Spike Lee and told him to go fuck himself. Look he makes it even seem nice in this clip.  Dispite the fact he dunks right on Ewings head, bitch slaps him, then walks over him whilst telling him to fuck off, then turns to the Knicks biggest celebrity fan and tell him to fuck off as well. He has admitted Ewing is still mad at him about this 30 years later. I love Pippen. 

 

 

 

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If anybody is thinking of watching the Ronaldo film/documentary on sky sports at the moment I'd not bother - its incredibly dull.

 

Its filmed over 14 months when he's at Madrid and they won their 'decima' CL title, so he's on fire on the pitch, but you don't see much of that. Mostly you see him at home with his son who mysteriously turns up virgin birth style with one parent missing (the more important one biologically in terms of children being produced), and much of that time he's either brushing his teeth, eating or watching tv. You see his car garage a few times, but nothing much else, its also oddly devoid of other people, even team mates or players, I get he's an ego maniac but it seems odd even allowing for that.

 

It's oddly devoid of much insight into him, other than to highlight how private he is and some of what drives him to excel at such a high level, with a few lines about his alcoholic fathers early death thru drink.

 

The most interesting character in it is Jorge Mendes, who isn't how I expected at all, he's more Portuguese Del Boy in a suit than the slick corporate lawyer deal maker type.

 

It's pretty dull and not worth the effort overall I'd say.

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Episode 5 was just fantastic with the Olympics and the segment on Jesse Helms with Barack Obama (gently) criticising Jordan. This is an all-time great series, I can’t wait for it to finish so I can binge it again.

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16 hours ago, ckny said:

Episode 5 was just fantastic with the Olympics and the segment on Jesse Helms with Barack Obama (gently) criticising Jordan. This is an all-time great series, I can’t wait for it to finish so I can binge it again.


It was interesting seeing both sides too. There is often weird expectations put on sports stars to be public figures beyond perhaps their means (or personal desire). Not to say Helms isn’t utterly reprehensible, and a Jordan endorsement could well have elected Grant, but feel Jordan was likely to be criticised either way. Seeing him during the gambling episode, he looked beyond jaded so have some sympathy with him for wanting to stay in his lane at that point.

 

It’s a sensational series, up there with the very best sports documentaries. Personally love the narrative structure; it feels fluid and dynamic, lending the story even more verve while also widening the net beyond just Jordan.
 

Hope the makers get a green light to do more on another great team / franchise.

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10 hours ago, wullie said:

People really don't like Isiah Thomas, wow.

Other than refusing to shake hands, which the rest of the Pistons also did, I'm not certain what he did that pissed so many people off? Or was he the NBAs Robbie Savage?

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3 hours ago, wev said:

Other than refusing to shake hands, which the rest of the Pistons also did, I'm not certain what he did that pissed so many people off? Or was he the NBAs Robbie Savage?

 

No his team mate Bill Laimbeer probably gets that honour. He was a real shithouse, who was there mainly to try and injure your best player. Rick Mahorn was arguably worse tbh but everyone hates Laimbeer the most.

 

Isiah Thomas was the captain and face of the team. He was a fantastic player and is extremely well respected among his peers. Charles Barkley and Magic Johnson have come out in the media this past week and defended him. At the time though that Pistons team were kind of hated by every other basketball team and their fans and that bounces back on Isiah Thomas. They had this little genius ball player in Isiah surrounded by a team of huge dirty fuckers. Following the massively popular Magic vs Bird years didn't help either. 

 

As great as this documentary is, you have to remember its Michael Jordans story and take on things. He still seems bitter with Isiah for not shaking his hand but also more likely for those years when the Pistons kicked his arse.  

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I'm no expert but looking at it, Thomas was the Billy Bremner of that team.  Fantastic talent, two championships but being the least shithouse on a team of shithouses isn't exactly a title you can put on the mantelpiece.  As you say, he was the captain - he had a say in the way the team played and acted.

 

I remember reading some stuff about his stint running the Knicks.  As President of Basketball Operations managed to have the highest payroll and the second-worst record.  He managed to nosedive out of playoff contention, hold a terrible overall coaching record, which continued in college basketball.  All great players have to be asshats to get where they are, I think Thomas was the biggest asshat of them all in a crowded field. (And excusing the Pistons walk off by saying Bird and the Celtics did it, well, Bird was an asshat as well.  Laimbeer talking about passing the torch - I mean, sportsmanship from Bill Laimbeer...)

 

Don't disagree that Jordan was/is bitter about the Pistons, but it seems that it wasn't just him wanting assurances that Thomas wasn't part of the Dream Team.  Bird and Johnson were definitely in the same boat, though Jordan got most of the heat.

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Bremner is a good comparison as is that Pistons team to the early 70's Leeds team. Isiah was a tough nut himself when he needed to be. Like Leeds they pushed the rule book as far as they could, having alot of success but pissing of alot of people in the process. 

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Every sport has its successful shithouse teams.  Leeds in the 1970s, the Broad Street Bullies in Philadelphia.  I guess the Pistons are the NBA equivalent.  And after the fact we all go "Ah, but they won championships so they can't have been just thugs".  Which is true, in the same way that the Kray twins kept the local streets safe at night.

 

At the risk of going off topic, I think that all great teams have to have a mean streak in them because otherwise you can knock them off their game.  Talent alone isn't enough.  Liverpool and Spurs have (in recent times) been soft.  The classic Arsenal and Man Utd sides had two all time tough bastards in Vieira and Roy Keane.  Mourinho's Chelsea were ruthless, under Guardiola, City are cynical when they have to be.  Look at the lineup of any winning side and there has to be at least one guy who would kill his granny to win.  Only as a last resort, mind, after killing your granny to win.  You can call it a competitive desire, a ruthless streak or shithousery.  It's just a matter of perspective.

 

After all, the Bulls beat the Pistons because they quit whining to the officials and toughened up.

 

I've found that the most interesting thing about this series - was Jordan an asshole because he was great, or did he need to be an asshole to become great?  I really must get a copy of The Jordan Rules book - as reviewed in The Ringer https://www.theringer.com/2017/6/9/16036374/the-jordan-rules-25-year-anniversary-sam-smith-michael-jordan-chicago-bulls-48b12d6d3e15

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It's probably a little bit of both, but then I think you see the pressures on anybody who is even a little bit famous to be "nice" all the time and imagine how much that increases when you reach Michael Jordan levels of fame.  

 

I've found myself really enjoying the series so far. I don't know much about basketball at all, I played the fuck out of NBA Jam back in the day,  I've heard of the superstar players and I could tell you which teams have won in certain years simply through osmosis but I've found myself being really drawn into the sport by the documentary. I've been surprised to see just how many of the players smoke cigars though, I get that there is a ton of footage from 25-30 years ago and maybe sports science wasn't as big a deal then as it is now but I'd always thought that the level of athleticism required to make it into the NBA was off the charts.  Now I'm starting to wonder where they compare to elite level footballers. 

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18 hours ago, McFly said:

Anyone watch QB1? Its about hotshot highschool quarter backs whom are in their senior season. Well Jake Fromm, season 1, got drafted by the Buffalo Bills last month. Cool to see it play out.

Justin Fields is in the second season and he is predicted to be drafted in the top 3 at next years draft.

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Really enjoying the Last Dance and all caught up with it, and I'm another non basketball fan

 

It's superbly put together, helps having such a long time period and compelling set of subjects but must have taken ages to research and edit all the footage. The structure is very clever.

 

As with all big documentaries now there is a piece published questioning it and what may be left out, it says things may be slightly friendly to Jordan as his production team have a hand in it and he has a right of veto over a lot of the footage and what gets included.

 

https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2020/may/09/the-last-dance-michael-jordan-netflix

 

Even allowing for that Jordan does seem a piece of work, can't doubt the talent but he must have been hard to live with and even be a teammate of, his need for dominance in everything, even dressing room coin tossing games reminded me of the old Roman saying

 

“The victor is not victorious if the vanquished does not consider himself so.”

 

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13 minutes ago, Gotters said:

Really enjoying the Last Dance and all caught up with it, and I'm another non basketball fan

 

It's superbly put together, helps having such a long time period and compelling set of subjects but must have taken ages to research and edit all the footage. The structure is very clever.

 

As with all big documentaries now there is a piece published questioning it and what may be left out, it says things may be slightly friendly to Jordan as his production team have a hand in it and he has a right of veto over a lot of the footage and what gets included.

 

https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2020/may/09/the-last-dance-michael-jordan-netflix

 


“History is written by the victors”

 

Not aimed at you, more that Guardian piece, which feels like clickbait given it was published halfway through the series’ release.


Even though it’s Jordan’s production company, the doc still feels surprisingly candid in places. Think The Last Dance does well at celebrating one of the greatest athletes to have ever lived, and does it with a pleasing amount of nostalgia and more than a little swagger.

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6 minutes ago, glb said:

Even though it’s Jordan’s production company, the doc still feels surprisingly candid in places. Think The Last Dance does well at celebrating one of the greatest athletes to have ever lived, and does it with a pleasing amount of nostalgia and more than a little swagger.

 

I don't now the story well enough to have a view on what rumours or things they did/didn't leave out.

 

It's certainly not a sugar coated puff piece with nothing shown at all, something that you often only get with time having elapsed in these things as management and agents are desperately trying to protect 'the brands' if things are current (like the god awful Ronaldo doc I mentioned up the page, or the very tame Man City All or Nothing).

 

Must have all taken place around the time NBA Jam came out on the SNES too as I knew a lot of the players from that, despite never watching any matches at the time.

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Yeah, there's a huge overlap time wise with NBA Jam. I'm another one who seems to have soaked up more than I realised just through playing that game all the time back in the day. 

 

As for Jordan not being a nice guy?  Why does he have to be? It seems to me he wouldn't have been anywhere near as successful if he weren't as driven as he was and he'd probably be remembered as just another decent basketball player from the 90s if he didn't drag the Bulls to six championships.  We certainly wouldn't be watching a documentary about him twenty years after he retired. 

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