Release the tapes!… Earlier!
In the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, the sports world has come to a screeching stop with future scheduled sporting events continuing to lead to cancelation.
Local transmission of the disease has been recorded in many countries across the world. In the United States alone, there are over 900,000 and counting confirmed cases, over 50,000 and counting deaths, the good news is there have been over 100,000 confirmed recovery cases.
Stay at home orders have been placed for the safety of others across the globe to stop the spread of the infectious disease.
ESPN gifted sports fans, moreover those who just needed to get their minds off a pandemic that leaves many unemployed, scared, and questioning what is next in a future changing world.
ESPN announced that the premiere of “The Last Dance,” the highly anticipated 10-part documentary series that was expected to air in June, would now air on ESPN in the U.S. on Sunday nights over five weeks from April 19 through May 17. The series will also be available outside of the U.S. on Netflix.
Oh happy day.
The series, directed by Jason Hehir (“The Fab Five,” “The ’85 Bears,” “Andre the Giant”), chronicles one of the greatest icons and most successful teams in sports history, Michael Jordan and the 1990s Chicago Bulls, and features never-before-seen footage from the 1997-98 season as the team pursued its sixth NBA championship in eight years.
“As society navigates this time without live sports, viewers are still looking to the sports world to escape and enjoy a collective experience. We’ve heard the calls from fans asking us to move up the release date for this series, and we’re happy to announce that we’ve been able to accelerate the production schedule to do just that, ESPN said in a statement. “This project celebrates one of the greatest players and dynasties ever, and we hope it can serve as a unifying entertainment experience to fill the role that sports often play in our lives, telling a story that will captivate everyone, not just sports fans.”
When I say release the tapes. I literally mean there is a generation of kids who wear Jordan’s retro sneakers but have never seen let alone know how iconic and dominant his Bulls teams were pre-social media. This will give that generation a glimpse while their parents and elders around them live in a state of nostalgia.
Throughout two seasons, from November 1995 to June 1997, the Bulls were favored in 185 consecutive games. It’s the longest such streak in ESPN Stats and Information’s odds database (dating back to 1990) — and it’s not even close.
The Golden State Warriors own the second-longest streak of being favored in consecutive games at 89 (March 31, 2017-March 6, 2018). The Bulls’ streak lasted more than twice as long.
During their 185-game streak, the Bulls went 159-26 outright and 97-87-1 against the spread. They were favored by an average of 10.4 points per game and by less than three points only five times.
Iconic and dominant.
Don’t waste your time even researching outside to other professional leagues or college ranks. No one even came close to 185.
The Bulls’ streak began in 1995, Jordan’s first full season back from missing mostly two seasons while playing minor league baseball. On November 26, 1995, Chicago was a 2.5-point road underdog to a Seattle SuperSonics squad featuring Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp. The SuperSonics won 97-92 in what turned out to be a preview of the 1996 Finals.
The next night, the Bulls were favored in a road game at Portland, starting the streak. Chicago would not be an underdog again until Game 3 of the 1997 Finals at the Utah Jazz.
Players today are benefiting off the NBA’s popularity and growth of Jordan and his rock star team.
In the fall of 1997, Michael Jordan, Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf and head coach Phil Jackson agreed to let an NBA Entertainment film crew follow the team all season long. The result would be a remarkable portrait of an iconic player and a celebrated team – a portrait only now being revealed, more than two decades later, in “The Last Dance.”
As the series weaves its way through the tumultuous 1997-98 season, viewers will be transported back to how it all began – from Jordan’s childhood roots, the Bulls’ dire circumstances before his arrival and how the team was built after drafting him in 1984, to the struggles that eventually led to the team’s first NBA championship. As the series takes the audience through the Bulls’ first five championships, viewers will experience the off-court challenges, struggles, and triumphs that were a part of the culture-shifting phenomenon created by Jordan and the Bulls.
It’s an unlikely scenario that serves as a fascinating backdrop for the inside tale of the 1998 championship run, with extensive profiles of Jordan’s key teammates including Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, and Steve Kerr, head coach Phil Jackson, and featuring dozens of current-day interviews with rivals and luminaries from basketball and beyond. All throughout, the tension and conflict that defined that final championship run are very much on display.
“Michael Jordan and the ’90s Bulls weren’t just sports superstars, they were a global phenomenon,” said director Jason Hehir. “Making ‘The Last Dance’ was an incredible opportunity to explore the extraordinary impact of one man and one team. For nearly three years, we searched far and wide to present the definitive story of an era-defining dynasty and to present these sports heroes as humans. I hope viewers enjoy watching our series as much as we enjoyed the opportunity to make it.”
The result is one of the most fascinating sports documentary series ever produced – a series viewers during the stay at home order won’t want to miss. The full episodic documentary will air on ESPN in the U.S. and on Netflix outside of the U.S. as follows:
Sunday, April 19
9 p.m. ET – Premiere of “The Last Dance” Episode 1
10 p.m. ET – Premiere of “The Last Dance” Episode 2
Sunday, April 26
7 p.m. ET – Re-air of “The Last Dance” Episode 1
8 p.m. ET – Re-air of “The Last Dance” Episode 2
9 p.m. ET – Premiere of “The Last Dance” Episode 3
10 p.m. ET – Premiere of “The Last Dance” Episode 4
Sunday, May 3
7 p.m. ET – Re-air of “The Last Dance” Episode 3
8 p.m. ET – Re-air of “The Last Dance” Episode 4
9 p.m. ET – Premiere of “The Last Dance” Episode 5
10 p.m. ET – Premiere of “The Last Dance” Episode 6
Sunday, May 10
7 p.m. ET – Re-air of “The Last Dance” Episode 5
8 p.m. ET – Re-air of “The Last Dance” Episode 6
9 p.m. ET – Premiere of “The Last Dance” Episode 7
10 p.m. ET – Premiere of “The Last Dance” Episode 8
Sunday, May 17
7 p.m. ET – Re-air of “The Last Dance” Episode 7
8 p.m. ET – Re-air of “The Last Dance” Episode 8
9 p.m. ET – Premiere of “The Last Dance” Episode 9
10 p.m. ET – Premiere of “The Last Dance” Episode 10
NETFLIX (outside of the U.S.)
Monday, April 20 – 12:01 a.m. PT – “The Last Dance” Episodes 1 and 2
Monday, April 27 – 12:01 a.m. PT – “The Last Dance” Episodes 3 and 4
Monday, May 4 – 12:01 a.m. PT – “The Last Dance” Episodes 5 and 6
Monday, May 11 – 12:01 a.m. PT – “The Last Dance” Episodes 7 and 8
Monday, May 18 – 12:01 a.m. PT – “The Last Dance” Episodes 9 and 10
ESPN Stats & Information contributed to this story