ESPN and Netflix are ready to tell a story so big they need each other to help tell it.
The worldwide leader in sports content and the premier streaming service are teaming up for The Last Dance, a ten-hour longform documentary series about Michael Jordan and his Chicago Bulls basketball teams in the ’90s.
The series will be directed Jason Hehir, who also directed the very successful documentary Andre the Giant for ESPN earlier this year. Mike Tollin will produce.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, The Last Dance will feature 500 previously unseen hours of footage from the Bulls last championship run in the 1997-1998 season, which is absolutely mind-boggling. One of the big themes of the Michael Jordan myth is that the “Jordan era” was the start of professional sports’ integration into mass media, advertising, and pop culture. We should have seen everything already. Finding out that there is just 500 unseen hours of footage out there is like finding out there’s another season of Seinfeld.
Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch reports that the series will arrive in 2019 and will have Jordan’s involvement.
Michael Jordan is one of North America’s (and the world’s) most iconic athletes ever. He helped shepherd NBA basketball further into mainstream culture after Larry Bird and Magic Johnson helped open the door in the ’80s. He was among the first athletes to understand the importance of branding, establishing a career long business and creative relationship with Nike.
He also had a near-sociopathic need to win, which should make those 500 unseen hours from The Last Dance particularly interesting. Thankfully, Michael Jordan also made Space Jam so he’s culturally unimpeachable.
Neither ESPN nor Netflix have announced a release date yet. Once they do, we can figure out how many years from now we’ll get the definitive 10-part LeBron James documentary.