Basketball fans are chomping at the bit in eager anticipation ahead of The Last Dance hitting the screens on April 20, when the first two episodes of the behind the scenes look into the 1997/98 Chicago Bulls are released.
The documentary, originally scheduled for release ahead of the NBA Finals, was brought forward due to the times we’re in to give fans the content we’ve been calling out for.
But ahead of it’s release, many have questioned why it has taken over 20 years for the footage from the Bulls’ sixth championship run to make its way onto the big screen. Now ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne has delivered the answers.
READ: Villain behind Jordan’s Bulls
Current NBA commissioner Adam Silver is a huge reason behind why the documentary was not only made, but also why it’s now about to hit television screens across the world in a little over 24 hours.
Silver in 1997 was the head of NBA Entertainment and after hearing whispers time could be called on Michael Jordan’s career, he quickly set about getting approval for a camera crew to follow the team throughout the season.
Fans finally get to see behind the curtain of Jordan’s final season.Source:Getty Images
In order to get the project over the line, Silver needed the approval of coach Phil Jackson and the megastar Jordan himself. Jackson quickly gave his tick of approval, provided he could shut-out the crew when needed.
The big hurdle came in the way of Jordan, but Silver handed over exactly what arguably the greatest player of all time craved most, control.
"Our agreement will be that neither one of us can use this footage without the other's permission," Silver told Jordan.
"It will be kept – I mean literally it was physical film – as a separate part of our Secaucus (New Jersey) library. Our producers won't have access to it. It will only be used with your permission."
READ: Ridiculous contracts of Jordan’s Bulls
Without Jordan giving it the tick of approval, Silver couldn’t do anything with the tapes except let them collect dust in a separate part of the NBA entertainment library.
For years that’s what the tapes did, the 500+ hours of footage sat hidden away with Jordan not allowing the tapes to see the light of day. Some of the biggest producers tried to pitch their worth, but Jordan’s business partner, Chris Polk, said none even made it to a face-to-face sit down with the superstar.
Jordan wasn’t going to release the tapes easily.Source:Getty Images
But then came Mike Tollin who refused to give up on the documentary and bringing it to the masses. After getting a meeting with Jordan, Tollin knew it was now or never and it was thanks to NBA star Allen Iverson the deal came to fruition.
A look book from Tollin captured Jordan’s attention, but it was the final page where he was sold. A list of movies and documentaries Tollin and his company, Mandalay Sports Media, had made.
"So there's Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar], there's Hank Aaron, there's 'Varsity Blues,' there's 'Coach Carter' and so forth," Tollin said. "He's actually looking at them all, and in the bottom right corner is 'Iverson.' He goes, 'You did that?'"
After an initial pause Tollin said yes only for Jordan to tell him he loved it so much he watched it multiple times and it made him cry. Then he walked over, shook his hand and agreed to let him produce the documentary.
Now, four years later, the documentary is set to be released with fans all over the world preparing to fall onto their couches and blast the volume for the opening two episodes.
The first two episodes of the 10-part documentary The Last Dance will air on Netflix Australia on April 20 with two episodes to be released every following week.
Source: Read Full Article