Ahead of The Last Dance concluding its 10-episode run Sunday night, Melissa Isaacson, former sports reporter for the Chicago Tribune and an interview subject in the docuseries, relived covering the historically dominant Bulls teams of the early ’90s. In addition to sharing her perspective on the doc, she touched upon her latest book, State: A Team, a Triumph, A Transformation.
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4:25 – 5:40: “Over the years, he [Michael Jordan] really has been sort of portrayed as this egomaniac, and he’s kind of helped along with that narrative. His Hall of Fame speech was taken in a way that I was sort of really shocked by. I actually really liked his Hall of Fame speech. It sounded to a lot of people like he was being selfish. … Hopefully the audience will see through the docuseries, those who maybe had one opinion of him, that the competitive side of him is crazy. No question. It’s on a level that…is not even close [to most people] – it’s not a stereotype – but that is exactly what makes him who he is, what makes him as great as he is. So there’s gonna be some eccentric qualities, but I would never ever call him an egomaniac, and I wouldn’t call him a mean person regardless of some of the scraps we’ve seen him get into with his teammates.”
9:43 – 10:44: “They [Bulls players] were all just really sensitive to me being pregnant. I have a lot of stories and a lot of memories of…guys interacting with me, Michael patting my stomach before he ran on the court every game when he came back [from his first retirement]. He’d look for me and pat my stomach for luck, I guess. Ordinarily you might be a little put off or uncomfortable, but, again, this is Michael Jordan. … It was just a magical, magical time. I felt blessed. I still feel blessed. A lot of people have asked, ‘Were you aware of how great it was?’ Oftentimes, it takes many years to look back and fully appreciate things. I fully appreciated it, I did, because it was clear that he was the best player in the world.”
25:56 – 26:26: “I think they [the filmmakers] were given this opportunity, and they were given this unbelievable amount of footage and so either you do it or you don’t. They had to have the permission of Michael and the NBA. I’m glad it’s out there, and you can argue if you want about every journalistic standard – was it adhered to? I feel it’s a fair portrayal as someone who was there. I feel like it’s been a very authentic and accurate portrayal.”
35:04 – 37:09 “As empowered as we were and as inspiring as I think our story was, I like to say, If you would have said to us 40 years ago while we were 17, 18-year-old girls that in 40 years you’re gonna have hundreds of thousands of men, women and children fill up soccer stadiums and cheer for a women’s team, what would you say? We’d be like, ‘Well, yeah, of course. Are you kidding? We’re gonna have a woman president, we’re gonna have women GMs, we’re gonna have women coaches, I’m gonna be the owner of the Bulls’… We would’ve thought anything was possible because of how far we had come in just that decade. … We have not ‘come a long way, baby’… Overall, it’s really a letdown to think of all the…especially women older than us that really paved the way who will die probably without seeing so many of the things they fought for.”