The best way to sum up “The Last Dance” would be like this: what if The Avengers were an NBA team? A group of superheroes on one final quest, fighting against a villain. The storyline is similar, as each episode combines the story of the main journey and takes us back into the past to hear our heroes’ origin story. The only curveball is, you’d think the Utah Jazz would get to play Thanos, but seemingly the part went to Bulls GM Jerry Krause.
As our main hero, the first episode takes back to young Mike Jordan, trying to give the Bulls any sort of credibility. We are reminded the cruel reality of the state of the Bulls – they were the 6th most popular franchise in Chicago. You had the Bears, Cubs and Sox, Blackhawks, and The Sting. You probably heard of the top four, but not The Sting. That’s because they were an indoor soccer team that had higher attendance than the Bulls. That’s how bad it was.
“I just want the franchise and the Chicago Bulls to be respected as a team like the Lakers or the Philadelphia 76ers or the Boston Celtics. It’s very hard for something like that to happen. But it’s not impossible.”Michael Jordan
In addition to that, MJ quickly got introduced to the cocaine era of the NBA. Early in his career, the team was on the road, and MJ found them all in a room. There were cocaine, alcohol, and women in abundance, and Jordan didn’t want any of it. From that point on, he was pretty much alone. That’s why his parents spent a lot of time with him in Chicago. We often forget the value of a strong support system. MJ spent three years in college and had his parents around a lot while adjusting to the pros. That moment might be the difference between Jordan and Bias.
THE VILLAIN – JERRY KRAUSE
Every hero needs a villain, and if our heroes are the ’97/’98 Bulls, the villain is the man who decided to end their run – Jerry Krause. The late Bulls GM was portrayed as a chubby guy with a Napoleon complex frustrated the players got all the praise. We will cover that narrative later today in greater length, but for now, let’s just say Krause was the guy who drafted or signed all the right players to put around Jordan.
Here’s a mental exercise for you – take Krause’s moves and put them in the NBA today. He probably wins an Executive of the Year award or two, right? This will be the most interesting and polarizing thing to keep an eye on in the series. So far, it doesn’t seem he’s getting a fair shake.