The Last Dance review: You know Michael Jordan – but do you really?

The Last Dance puts Michael Jordan's career front and centre in an age where his silhouette is a misplaced legacy

Michael Jordan

You have heard of Michael Jordan. You know Michael Jordan. It’s Michael Jordan. Of course you know Michael Jordan. But do you actually know Michael Jordan?

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The cultural impact of the basketball titan is splashed across the globe, the brand, the iconic Jumpman logo is stamped onto every Nike product – from shoes to PSG football jerseys – that image is pressed into our mind.

Here in the UK, plenty know Jordan was ‘the man’, many did grow up idolising his every move in a Chicago Bulls jersey but in a nation where basketball isn’t the done thing, his legacy feels somewhat restricted to his brand, to his reputation, without truly know why he was ‘the man’.

As a child of the 90s, barely able to reach up to Jordan’s knee height for much of the timespan The Last Dance focuses on, I too fell into the category of knowing Jordan is the best without truly fathoming why. The Last Dance is tailor-made for those who know Jordan to be more than a fashion symbol, without truly knowing the tale of his rise.

The Last Dance focuses on the all-conquering Chicago Bulls team in the 90s, a one-time farcical franchise, bottom of the pecking order in a city dominated by baseball, ice hockey and NFL. That was pre-Jordan.

Netflix’s latest sports documentary hangs on the end of an era, the Bulls won five titles in seven years, with the series pinned on the 1997/98 campaign as one-time behemoths creep towards their sell-by date and an aggressive backroom management strategy that seeks to tear down the dynasty to build another.

It brims with interviews – from the time and in the present day – by an ice-cool, cigar-swivelling Jordan and his team-mates, key members of backroom staff, opposing legends, even a pair of presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton weigh in with a glint in their eye.

The intimacy of the sport, a minimal roster of guys led by a figurehead coach, lends itself well to the docu-series style. It’s simple enough picking up the guys and becoming invested quickly.

Michael Jordan

Jordan is clearly the poster-boy for the show, but the story of the Robin to MJ’s Batman, Scottie Pippen, is given plenty of breathing room. The series is wrapped around the character and influence of Jordan without suffocating him – sub-plots are given air and there are some remarkable tales to be told.

If you grew up watching Jordan in action, The Last Dance will be a solid nostalgia trip for you, a sporting fix designed to evoke the romanticism of sport in the 90s. If Jordan’s meaning to you has been inadvertently limited to a silhouette designed to sell shoes and shirts, The Last Dance is your chance to learn the legend for yourself.

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The Last Dance is available on Netflix from Monday, 20th March – check out what else is on with our TV Guide