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The Last Dance makes it hard to like the players at the heart of this documentary


Sports documentaries, for the most part, need to do two things: be accessible to you even if you know nothing about the discipline, and give you someone to root for. You can’t beat an underdog story like Sunderland ‘Til I Die, but the drama is bound up in your support for the show’s subject, so even if they’re global superstars, you’ve got to at least like them. Then that drama shouldn’t be weighed down by reams of complex tactical analysis and exposition. In one sense the first two episodes of ESPN’s The Last Dance (releasing on Netflix internationally) are successful. But in the other it fails, emphatically.

Chasing a second ‘three-peat’ – winning an NBA championship in three consecutive seasons – The Last Dance follows who some consider the greatest ball player of all time, Michael Jordan, and the Chicago Bulls in their 1997/98 season. Supplemented with some never-before-seen footage and illustrious talking heads including all-star ex-pros, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and MJ today, this ten-part drama is the result of exclusive access enjoyed by NBA Entertainment cameras. You may not need to know the first thing about basketball to watch it, but you may not develop enough affection for the team to stick with it.

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