ESPN’s The Last Dance has earned its fair share of acclaim since it debuted this past spring. The docuseries, which centered on the final championship run of Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls, earned rave reviews from critics and general audiences, and even snagged an Emmy win. However, the players involved in the doc have had more mixed responses to it. This includes Bulls legend Scottie Pippen, who was thought to have been fine with the way it turned out. Now, he’s delivered some brutally honest thoughts on the show.
Following The Last Dance’s initial run, it was reported that Scottie Pippen was “livid” about the way he was portrayed on the show, though he later stated that he wasn’t fazed by it. But in a recent interview, he explained that he wasn’t impressed with how he was depicted and even revealed that he spoke to former teammate Michael Jordan about it:
Yeah. I told him I wasn’t too pleased with it. He accepted it. He said, ‘Hey, you’re right’. That was pretty much it.
The Last Dance was celebrated for a number of the things it did, but its representation of Scottie Pippen served as one of the more controversial elements. Some believed Pippen was portrayed as selfish due to the focus on his decision to forego surgery ahead of the 1997-1998 NBA season Others also noted that his contributions to the team didn’t receive as much focus as they should have. Former Chicago Bull and current NBA coach Steve Kerr, who mostly enjoyed the doc, was also disappointed by the way Pippen was utilized on the show.
Pippen further explained to The Guardian that he believes the documentary didn’t accurately define what the Bulls teams of the ‘90s truly managed to accomplish in their time. He also believes the doc was a way for Jordan to “uplift himself,” though he doesn’t think that worked in the basketball legend’s favor:
I don’t think it was that accurate in terms of really defining what was accomplished in one of the greatest eras of basketball, but also by two of the greatest players – and one could even put that aside and say the greatest team of all time. I didn’t think those things stood out in the documentary. I thought it was more about Michael trying to uplift himself and to be glorified [the series was co-produced by Jordan’s Jump 23 company]. I think it also backfired to some degree in that people got a chance to see what kind of personality Michael had.
In addition to Scottie Pippen, former Bulls player Horace Grant took issue with The Last Dance as well. This stemmed from Michael Jordan accusing him of leaking locker room secrets to journalist Sam Smith, who would later write the controversial The Jordan Rules book.
It can honestly be said that there are arguments to be made on both sides of the aisle. While there’s plenty to love about The Last Dance, the docuseries isn’t perfect in the way it handles some things. It’ll be interesting to see if the public and former players’ perceptions of it change over time.
The Last Dance is currently available to stream on Netflix.