The Last Dance documentary series is showing us a different side of an iconic Bulls dynasty. We are getting an insight into all the crazy internal stuff that was happening behind the scenes, making their run even more impressive. They were a group of many unique personalities that weren’t easily manageable but were able to come together around the same goal and eventually achieve it. Watching the documentary and listening to the crazy stories that were surrounding the team made me think about how those stories would be perceived if they were happening in today’s NBA. Better yet, how would the 90s Bulls get by if back then the media coverage was what it is today?
Today’s NBA players are the topic of daily debate shows. Not only their performances on the floor but their lives are being talked about constantly. Their games are being dissected to a single possession and analyzed by people on various platforms. Even fans can talk to players directly via social media, making them more accessible than ever. Some like LeBron James reduce that amount of exposure, so they altogether avoid social media when the playoffs start, while the likes of Kevin Durant use burner accounts to engage his critics.
The Last Dance is showing us how tough it was to be Michael Jordan, just from the stand of a day-to-day pressure he had to endure because he was such a superstar. However, comparing it to today’s NBA superstars, Michael wasn’t facing nearly as much scrutiny they have to face daily. Jordan wasn’t the type of personality that loved to always be in the spotlight. He was more of a kind to do the talking on the floor, instead of doing it in front of the microphones. He wanted his media obligations to be related to the game. He wasn’t even as involved in social issues like today’s players are. With him, it was all about basketball, and he wanted to keep it that way. All the outside talk like him continually being asked about Pippen’s contract situation or Jerry Krause’s comments about Bulls’ last season together wasn’t something he was willing to discuss in front of the media and was the stuff that eventually burned him out.
Even the incidents that surrounded the Bulls weren’t nearly as covered as they would’ve been today. Just imagine if one of the key players of a championship roster decides to take a two-day vacation to go to Las Vegas in the middle of the regular season. Not only him, but the whole organization would be faced with constant criticism, and that would’ve been a topic for days. Players’ relationship with Jerry Krause and even the way MJ treated his teammates are all the stuff that in today’s media coverage would’ve been reported and discussed.
The life and the play of NBA players are under the biggest magnifier it has ever been. Them being aware of the exposure of their lives has probably made them more cautious about how they behave as players and as persons. However, the occasional controversy centered around the NBA players is giving us a glimpse of how today’s media would’ve covered the 90s Bulls.
As seen in ESPN’s series, they were much more controversial than any current NBA team. Understanding how the Bulls were covered back then and comparing it to how today’s players are being covered makes you more appreciative of how current players are dealing with the constant media pressure. In a world where all of their actions are being questioned, we underestimate how professionally they are doing their media obligations, which ultimately provide fans all the insight we crave.