The Crucial Part Missing From The Last Dance

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The mini-series documentary The Last Dance, finished on Sunday, wrapping up the in-depth look at the 90s Chicago Bulls Dynasty. All six championship seasons were covered, including the years leading up to the championship run along with the two years in between both three-peats. For all aspects covered, the year following the end of the dynasty was not.

Following the 1998 season, The Bulls organization began their long-talked-about rebuild as Michael Jordan retired, Phil Jackson was let go as head coach, Scottie Pippen was traded to the Houston Rockets, and Dennis Rodman was released. The 1998-99 NBA season was interesting for all parties involved. Everyone apart of the dynasty had an interesting journey following the dismantling of the dominant Bulls team in the summer of 1998. All of their stories were important to add the value to why the 1998 championship season was so special.

It was extensively covered in the final episode of the documentary, that the Bulls and Jordan were both physically and mentally drained by the end of the 1998 NBA Playoffs. Players and coaches admitted to the team needing a break following the championship win over the Utah Jazz. There would have been an intriguing story to tell had Jordan and Jackson’s time away from the NBA after 1998. The Bulls coach went on a sabbatical in Montana, while the team’s biggest star suffered a freak injury to his shooting hand. Many would have loved to hear the background and severity of Jordan’s cut finger following a mishap with a cigar cutter and how it may have affected the team’s quest for a seventh title had they all came back.

Pippen’s sign and trade would have made for a great story also as he joined a Rockets’ team that had two other future Hall of Fame players Charles Barkley and Hakeem Olajuwon. The 1998-99 Rockets team was predicted by many to win that year’s NBA championship. For the number of great expectations the Rockets had that season, they failed to live up to those expectations as poor chemistry led to the team’s quick playoff exit. Pippen, who finally received the large contract that he had always wanted, suddenly faced issues that he never faced during his prior time with the Bulls.

Rodman’s unpredictable nature continued as he would go on to wrestle Jazz legend Karl Malone in WCW’s July Pay Per View just a few weeks after the conclusion of the 1998 NBA Finals. The Bulls rebounding specialist would have an interesting year following his release from the Bulls. Rodman would appear in just 23 games with the Los Angeles Lakers before being released for the lack of professionalism.

The Bulls organization’s ability to move on following the dissolving of the championship team would make for an enticing story as the team went from the best to the worst team in the NBA in one year. Following the NBA lockout in 1999, Chicago would win just 13 games in a 50 game season. Lowlights would include setting an NBA record for the fewest points scored in a game with 49 points against the Miami Heat and several double-digit losses. Veteran holdovers from the dynasty included Toni Kukoc, Ron Harper, Randy Brown, and Bill Wennington. All these players would have made for great interviews in talking about the hardship and awkwardness of playing for the post-championship team.

Those who developed the documentary could have followed the setup of the “OJ: Made in America” documentary ending. It involved OJ Simpson’s life immediately following his acquittal and the lasting effects of the murder trial. For as great as it is hearing about the highest of highs involving the 90s Chicago Bulls, the post-story was needed to heighten why that team was so special. ESPN could have easily done another two hours of content that depicted each person’s story the year after the dynasty ended.

The Last Dance documentary was a terrific piece of work that was tremendous at providing new and detailed insight. Sports fans deserved to have the same detailed insight about the team the year following the breakup. What made the final season of the Bulls dynasty so special was that it was the end of something great, and it would have been truly special to see each individual’s separate journey following that ending.