MANILA, Philippines – After a successful run, The Last Dance finally draws to a close with its last two episodes streaming on Netflix on Monday, May 18.
In the first 8 episodes, the 10-part documentary had all the bases covered chronicling Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, except their back-to-back finals duels against the Utah Jazz that marked the end of their dynasty.
Here’s what to expect in the series finale:
Wrong end of history
After retiring from the NBA in 2003 following a storied 19-season career with the Jazz, John Stockton stayed out of the public eye as much as possible.
But Stockton agreed to appear in the The Last Dance after incessant persuading from director Jason Hehir, who bared the NBA all-time assists and steals leader initially did not want to be a part of a “Michael Jordan puff piece.”
In fact, Stockton was the last to be interviewed for the documentary last March 10, just before the coronavirus put the world at a standstill and forced people to stay and work at their own homes.
While the Jazz never missed the playoffs and reached the Western Conference finals 5 times within a seven-season stretch with Stockton as point guard, they failed to win it all, losing the title to the Bulls in 1997 and 1998.
Still, reaching the championship round and battling against the greatest team of the 1990s was a feat in itself for Stockton.
“We had a chance to play and test ourselves against the best and that means as much to me as anything,” Stockton said.
Challenging the champions
The Bulls imposed their will on opponents during their 6 title runs.
On the way to those two three-peats, the Bulls swept 9 playoff series and played in a Game 7 only twice – against the New York Knicks in the 1992 conference semifinals and against the Indiana Pacers in the 1998 conference finals.
Against the Pacers, though, the Bulls looked vulnerable.
Dragged to a rubber match by the Pacers, the Bulls’ chances of defending their throne looked bleak as they trailed in the final quarter before they regained their bearings to punch their finals ticket.
“We had a better team, I really do believe that,” said Reggie Miller of the Pacers, who at the time had him, Mark Jackson, Rik Smits, Jalen Rose, Dale Davis, and Antonio Davis in the roster and Larry Bird as coach.
“But championship DNA and championship experience really rose to the forefront in Game 7 for Chicago.”
Drawing the curtain
Best known for being a clutch performer, it was only fitting for Jordan to conclude his tenure with the Bulls with a game-winning shot.
As the Jazz led by a point in the dying seconds of Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals, Jordan stole the ball from Karl Malone and coolly sank the go-ahead jumper following a nifty move on Bryon Russell.
To this day, it is still argued whether Jordan should have been called for an offensive foul for pushing Russell, but the “Last Shot” gave the Bulls a storybook ending after dealing with adversity all season long.
“When Russell reached, I took advantage of that moment,” Jordan said in 1998. “I never doubted myself.”
“I was more competitive than I ever was because I wanted to win more than I ever did because of some of the bumps in the road.”
The Bulls went their separate ways after the season, with Jordan retiring for the second time, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman being traded and released, and Phil Jackson taking a break from coaching. – Rappler.com
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