The 10-part ESPN documentary, “The Last Dance”, which chronicles the career of Michael Jordan and the 1997-1998 Chicago Bulls, has been a smash hit for ESPN. The first two episodes aired last Sunday night and will continue to show two parts every Sunday through May 17. While most viewers have been amazed at “The Last Dance” thus far, there’s at least one person who isn’t overly thrilled with it. Toni Kukoc, who was a big part of the Bulls’ second three-peat, believes that the focus of the documentary is all wrong.
Toni Kukoc played a major part of the Chicago Bulls’ second three-peat
Following a successful career overseas, Toni Kukoc finally made his way to the Chicago Bulls ahead of the 193-1994 season and made an immediate impact in the Windy City. With Michael Jordan in retirement, Kukoc was a nice option to have alongside Scottie Pippen for 18 months until Jordan made his return to the NBA in March 1995.
Kukoc won the NBA Sixth Man of the Year award in 1995-1996, the year the Bulls went 72-10 en route to the first of three consecutive NBA titles from 1996-1998. In those three seasons, Kukoc averaged a little more than 13 points per game, the third-highest average on the team behind Jordan and Pippen in that stretch.
‘The Last Dance’ documentary naturally features some negativity surrounding the Chicago Bulls
It took more than two decades for “The Last Dance” documentary to see the light of day as Michael Jordan had to sign off on anyone using the footage. When ESPN announced the 10-part series more than a year ago, basketball fans rejoiced. But nobody knew exactly what to expect. All they knew was that there was a 10-part series coming about Michael Jordan and the 1997-1998 Chicago Bulls. Anticipation built and built and the highly-anticipated documentary finally hit the airwaves on April 19, earlier than expected as it was moved up due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The first two episodes were incredible, building the drama for the rest of the series by discussing the tension between Bulls GM Jerry Krause and head coach Phil Jackson. It also put focus on all of the drama surrounding Scottie Pippen and his contract and trade demands. Naturally, anything involving Michael Jordan is always going to make for entertaining television and there was plenty of drama with him as well. It’s an in-depth documentary and all bases need to be covered. But Toni Kukoc doesn’t seem to be a fan.
Kukoc doesn’t like the focus of ‘The Last Dance’
In any form of art or entertainment, you’re never going to please everyone. It’s simply impossible. Somebody always has something to say one way or the other and “The Last Dance” is no different. While most people are loving it, Toni Kukoc doesn’t seem to be. In a recent phone interview with NBC Sports Chicago, Kukoc, who is still an ambassador for the Bulls, voiced his displeasure with the focus of the documentary.
“I’m hoping the other episodes are brighter and more of a celebration of basketball instead of who is guilty or to blame, and why didn’t they win eight championships or 10. The world was so happy when that was happening. So I don’t know what people are mad at.
“I cherish the things we did in practice, that we did on the road. That team worked so hard and was committed and devoted. We’re talking about people who won six championships in eight years and we’ve got to find a way to find a dark note?”Toni Kukoc on “The Last Dance” documentary
Toni Kukoc certainly raises a valid point. As basketball fans, we probably should appreciate the Bulls for what they were back then, one of the best teams ever assembled. But the behind-the-scenes stories are just so freaking good. And they’re honestly a part of what makes this story so compelling.
Episodes three and four air tonight on ESPN and there will be a big focus on Dennis Rodman. Sorry, Toni, the drama isn’t going anywhere.