With the eagerly anticipated Michael Jordan documentary “The Last Dance” set to premiere on Sunday, its director recently opened up about how the NBA legend initially expressed concern over how the 10-part series could alter public perception of him in an unflattering way.
In a discussion about the project with Richard Deitsch of The Athletic, “The Last Dance” director Jason Hehir recalled how Jordan had some trepidation at the onset about how some of the footage in the documentary could portray him as a “horrible guy,” especially when taken out of context.
“When people see this footage I’m not sure they’re going to be able to understand why I was so intense, why I did the things I did, why I acted the way I acted, and why I said the things I said,” Hehir said of Jordan’s expressed concerns. “… When you see the footage of [me riding with Scotty Burrell], you’re going to think that I’m a horrible guy.
“But you have to realize that the reason why I was treating him like that is because I needed him to be tough in the playoffs and we’re facing the Indiana’s and Miami’s and New York’s in the Eastern Conference. He needed to be tough and I needed to know that I could count on him. And those are the kind of things where people see me acting the way I acted in practice, they’re not going to understand it.”
Basketball fans obviously are craving any kind of content to fill the void of the sports world coming to a complete standstill, as evidenced by the ill-fated “H-O-R-S-E” tournament featuring NBA players last week. While that particular gambit was widely panned, the Jordan doc is expected to be a runaway ratings hit.
The release of “The Last Dance” — which chronicles Jordan’s final go-round with the Chicago Bulls during the 1997-98 season — was actually bumped up by ESPN to premiere on April 19. This came amid a public pressure campaign — including a push by LeBron James — on social media.
ESPN will air two one-hour episodes each Sunday, with the final two installments broadcast on May 17.