On Sunday, the first two episodes of The Last Dance, which chronicles the 1997-1998 Chicago Bulls, premiered to an audience of 6.1 million viewers.
The first two episodes acted as more of an introduction to the main characters in the story and the setup to the drama that ensued during the 1997-1998 season for the Bulls. There were pictures and videos from the high school and college days of Michael Jordan (who was called Mike Jordan before he became the best player in the world) and Scottie Pippen (who was called Scott Pippen when he was drafted. Why does your name get shortened when you’re not famous yet?).
The footage used in the documentary is unique, especially for Pippen, who went to an NAIA school and was drafted with relatively no expectations. What was most surprising about the documentary was Pippen’s contract with the Bulls he signed in 1991, which was for seven years and $18 million. In 1997, he was the 122nd highest paid player. That title is given to Andre Roberson in today’s league. And Pippen was arguably a top five player in the league during his career.
Of the 6.1 million viewers, 3.5 million were in the 18-49 age demographic. This documentary, which wouldn’t have been possible without the insertion of LeBron James in the “goat” conversations over the past couple years (seriously, after the 2016 NBA Finals, Jordan told them to make the documentary after the tapes had been held for nearly 20 years), and the recent rise in documentaries, is a great way for the NBA fanbase to come together during a period of no sports.
Jordan represents an era of yesteryear that featured an entirely different play style. The young basketball audiences will now get to witness what makes Jordan the greatest basketball player of all time. And for the older basketball audiences, they get to relive a time when the Bulls were The Beatles.
With eight more episodes left, two will be released every Sunday for the next four weeks.