I don’t get to play it or watch it these days, but I have always appreciated basketball, and the skill and energy that the game takes to play at the highest level.
For a couple of years, I played for my school as a teenager in Sydney. We were pretty good. I played centre, and was usually the leading scorer on the team. I enjoyed it immensely, but I never took it any further than that.
A few years later – as the Dream Team were taking the Barcelona Olympics by storm in 1992 – I got into watching the NBA on TV. For whatever reason, I gravitated towards the Utah Jazz, and my favourite player was their power forward, Karl Malone. But as the nineties tailed off, so too did my interest in following the sport in any depth.
Recently I watched The Last Dance on Netflix, a ten part documentary focusing on the 1997/98 NBA season of the Chicago Bulls. It tickled my nostalgia bone and reminded me why the game is so exciting to watch, especially when Michael Jordan has his hands on the ball.
Because as much as the documentary is about the whole cast of characters, it’s really primarily about Jordan’s rise to fame in the eighties and subsequent ascent to super stardom in the nineties. And there’s nothing wrong with that – the guy had a charmed career.
The narrative flips back and forth through Jordan’s timeline and intersperses it with features about the other important characters in the story – Pippin, Rodman, and coach Phil Jackson, amongst others. And it’s all done with great aplomb too.
So if you want a trip down memory lane, and go back to watch the circumstances surrounding the Bulls’ ‘repeat threepeat’, this is really as good as it gets. For fans of the sport, I can’t recommend it highly enough.
And even if you don’t like basketball, it’s still an interesting watch, if only to appreciate the genius, determination, and dedication of one of the greatest sportsmen the world has ever seen.