The Last Dance, ESPN's sprawling documentary series chronicles the Chicago Bulls dynasty of the 1990s and its biggest stars, has taken the world by storm since its debut in April 2020. But now that the final episode has come and gone, there are probably some people out there who are still hungry for more great sports stories in the vein of the popular docuseries. There are the obvious answers like the Academy Award-winning documentary O.J.: Made In America, but there are countless others in the vein of The Last Dance that might have been forgotten.
So before the 10-part documentary on the six-time NBA Champion Chicago Bulls hits Netflix in July, giving fans the chance to watch it again and again, why not check out these seven great sports stories that offer insight into the lives of some of the most influential athletes and the cultures surrounding their respective sports. And don't worry, there are plenty of Michael Jordan documentaries on this list.
O.J.: Made In America
As far as sports documentaries that look at everything surrounding the central subject goes, there's nothing more engaging or in-depth as O.J.: Made In America. Released in 2016, this five-part series takes a look at not only O.J. Simpson's trial for the murder of ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman, it goes deeper into the former NFL legend's career and place in society, especially in the city of Los Angeles, which is also a major focal point of the documentary. As we watch Simpson's rise and fall from fame, we see a parallel narrative about the city of Los Angeles, coinciding with the landmark double-murder trial in 1994. This one transcends the sports documentary classification and becomes a larger argument about race, class, and fame in America.
André The Giant
To some people, André The Giant was a seven-foot, 500-pound behemoth who ran over the competition in various wrestling promotions around the world, and to others, he was the gentle giant from The Princess Bride. Well, the amazing 2018 HBO documentary André The Giant takes a thorough look at André René Roussimoff through a series of interviews with the likes of Hulk Hogan, Vince McMahon on the wrestling side, with Billy Crystal, Rob Reiner, and Arnold Schwarzenegger on the acting side. By showing both sides of the late wrestler-turned-actor's life (and sharing some of the greatest stories), this touching documentary examines what made André a pop culture giant.
When We Were Kings
It's hard to believe that it has already been four years since legendary boxer and civil rights icon Muhammad Ali passed away at the age of 74. And with the four-year anniversary of the death of the "greatest of all time" right around the corner, now's the perfect time to go back and revisit the 1996 documentary When We Were Kings. The Academy Award-winning documentary about "The Rumble In The Jungle," Ali's October 1974 fight with George Foreman in Zaire (modern-day Democratic Republic of the Congo) features footage leading up to the fight as well as interviews with the likes of James Brown, B.B. King, Spike Lee, and a host of other influential athletes, musicians, and artists inspired by the historic bout.
June 17th, 1994
June 17, 1994, is one of the most significant days in sports history as well as American history. Most people remember the day for the police chase involving O.J. Simpson, but while millions of Americans were watching that story unfold, the FIFA World Cup was getting underway, the New York Rangers were celebrating their Stanley Cup Finals win, Ken Griffey Jr. was tying one of Babe Ruth's records, the New York Knicks were in the NBA Finals, and Arnold Palmer was playing his final round in the U.S. Open. The events of this historic day are presented without narration or talking heads in the 2010 ESPN film June 17th, 1994.
Unbanned: The Legend Of AJ1
One of the highlights of The Last Dance was the episode that focused on Michael Jordan's rise on the court and in the sneaker business. Without a doubt, the Air Jordan line of Nike basketball shoes is the most popular shoe to hit the court and the streets since its release in on November 17, 1984. And if sneakerheads who want more on the craze surrounding the groundbreaking shoe, then they should check out the documentary Unbanned: The Legend Of AJ1. Through interviews with everyone from the Spike Lee to former NBA Commissioner David Stern (RIP), the film takes a look at the cultural significance of the shoe and how it changed the world forever.
Jordan Rides The Bus
Right after Michael Jordan led the Chicago Bulls to their third consecutive NBA title, the superstar did the unthinkable — he retired from the game of basketball. What did he do with his time? Oh yeah, he tried out professional baseball despite not having played the sport since high school. At the time of his shift from basketball to baseball, Jordan's career move was the biggest sports story, and no one knew that better than the Chicago White Sox Double-A team, the Birmingham Barons. The 2010 ESPN documentary Jordan Rides The Bus follows that crazy period in Jordan's career and gives a voice to the people who lived and worked with the greatest basketball player of all time while he tried out baseball.
The Dream Team
Another major aspect of Michael Jordan's career, and basketball in general, was the 1992 U.S. Olympic Basketball team that featured some of the greatest NBA players not named Isaiah Thomas. The Last Dance briefly touched upon the 1992 Olympics games in one of the episodes, but if you want a more detailed look at the formation of the Dream Team and stories about them team of all-stars working out the kinks before securing the gold medal in Barcelona, then look no further than NBA TV's 2012 The Dream Team documentary. Through interviews with the players, coaches, and members of the press, this film celebrating the 20th anniversary of one of the most prolific national teams to play the game is worth the watch.
Those are just a handful of the great sports stories out there for people who want more after burning through The Last Dance. And if you're like the rest of us and wondering what was up with the screaming Indiana Pacers fan, we've got you covered here at CinemaBlend..
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Philip grew up in Louisiana (not New Orleans) before moving to St. Louis after graduating from Louisiana State University-Shreveport. When he's not writing about movies or television, Philip can be found being chased by his three kids, telling his dogs to stop barking at the mailman, or yelling about professional wrestling to his wife. If the stars properly align, he will talk about For Love Of The Game being the best baseball movie of all time.