A palpable buzz is building as we creep closer and closer to the April 19 release date for ESPN’s “The Last Dance” documentary series on Michael Jordan and the 1990s Bulls.
Former ESPN employee and current CEO of the Ringer, Bill Simmons, added to that in a recent appearance on FS1’s "The Herd," a radio show hosted by Colin Cowherd.
"Michael Jordan was just more popular & more famous than LeBron in every conceivable way. He transcended celebrity... I think this is going to be one of the biggest documentaries ever." — @BillSimmons pic.twitter.com/NfUaOd2a66— Herd w/Colin Cowherd (@TheHerd) April 1, 2020
In Simmons’ time at ESPN, he famously pioneered the "30 for 30" documentary series that has since swelled in popularity and name-brand recognition. In a six-minute interview with Cowherd, Simmons recalled the universal reverence for Jordan and the ’90s Bulls, and Jordan’s reluctance to peel the curtain back on their exploits.
“We [ESPN] tried to do it [a Jordan documentary] after we finished the first "30 for 30" series when we had everything going in 2009,” Simmons said. “We knew about this documentary that NBA Entertainment had. You know, they had filmed his whole season. They had all this behind the scenes stuff. So we got a copy of it, and we watched it. And the behind the scenes stuff, it was the real Jordan. It was the homicidally competitive Jordan, the guy yelling at his teammates. It was all the stuff we had always heard of but 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 (2010s) decade, especially when LeBron won that Cavs title, when things really started to shift and all of a sudden there was an MJ vs. LeBron argument. I think for the first time, Jordan and his camp realized, ‘Oh, we gotta protect our legacy here,’” Simmons said. “People are starting to forget how great and famous and how universally everyone thought, who was there, this is the best basketball player I’m ever going to see. And I still feel that way.”
To be clear, there’s no evidence of the footage Simmons alluded to being directly related to “The Last Dance.” But it shows that there is a side to Jordan that the masses have yet to see.
Hopefully, we get to experience that side in all its flaws and glory come April 19.