The first episode of ESPN's documentary called 'The Last Dance,' which profiles Michael Jordan and the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls, aired on Sunday night. Here are five takeaways from the episode...

1. Decades after he last played for the Chicago Bulls, Michael Jordan was once again at the center of the entire sports world. And sports fans needed it.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic stopping sports around the country and the globe, there hadn't been appointment sports television in weeks. The fact it came in the form of a documentary was unusual, but also refreshing in that the nostalgia of the 1980s and 1990s felt familiar and comforting.

For many, it was a flash back to their younger days, for some their childhood. And the anticipation for the documentary to start felt like the build-up to a big game.

It will be fascinating to see the TV ratings given the unique circumstances of Sunday night. Fans were starved for a sporting event and this felt like one. You have to guess it was a massive audience, but there is really no way to predict given all the factors involved.

2. Early in the first episode, it became clear former Bulls general manager Jerry Krause would be the villain. After a quick recap of Jordan's rise and the team's first five championships, the next block of the episode was all about how Krause's jealousy led to the downfall of a dynasty. He was described as jealous of the credit Jordan received for the Bulls' success and resentful of head coach Phil Jackson, whom he had given his first NBA coaching gig years prior.


Krause held the belief that organizations, not players won championships. That irked Jordan and set the tone for his and Jackson's final season in Chicago.

The irony there is that the Bulls under Jackson were seen as a shining example of ego management. Between Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman, Jackson held in check what could have been a volatile mix of personalities. But ultimately egos in a way did tear the team down.


3. Krause, other members of the front office and ownership somehow drew an absolutely absurd conclusion right before the 1997-98 season, one that had to seem just as dumb at the time as it does in hindsight. The Bulls had won 69 games in 1996-97 and their fifth title in seven years, yet team executives felt it was wise to rebuild. According to owner Jerry Reinsdorf, the belief was that most of the core was past their prime and it was time to essentially clean house.

The plans to rebuild were well-known enough that they were publicly discussed and Jordan still doesn't seem to be over it. Hard to argue with him there.

4. One of the best and most unexpected moments of the first episode was an extended recap of his college years. There were many highlights of his three years in Chapel Hill as well as interviews with Dean Smith, Roy Williams and James Worthy. They even had Patrick Ewing describe the 1982 NCAA championship game when Jordan beat Ewing's Georgetown Hoyas with a go-ahead shot.

Jordan described making that shot as the moment that changed him from "Mike to Michael." And he also said "it gave me the confidence that I needed to excel at the game of basketball."

Towards the tail end of the college years segment, they had Bob Knight who coached him for Team USA say he was the best basketball player he had ever seen. Keep in mind that was before Jordan had ever played an NBA game. 

5. The biggest viral moment of Episode 1 involved former President Barack Obama and a sensational use of understatement. His lower-third said simply 'former Chicago resident.'

Well, technically that is true. Long before he occupied the White House, he was a basketball fan living in Chicago hoping to get a glimpse of the NBA's biggest new star. That description just undersells the man it's describing a little bit.

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