The producers of The Last Dance said from the outset that the 10-part documentary was not intended to be solely about Michael Jordan, as evidenced by the attention paid to Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Phil Jackson, and Steve Kerr.
But many of the anecdotes and backstories relating to those individuals revolved around their relationships with Jordan. Viewers got insight into Jordan by seeing the interactions and hearing the interviews.
Only one key piece was missing.
‘The Last Dance’ left out Michael Jordan’s first wife
It was clear from the start that The Last Dance would not and could not have been made without Michael Jordan. A consensus pick as one of the greatest basketball players ever, Jordan was the Chicago Bulls’ key player on the court and most influential figure off of it.
If Jordan did not want the ESPN documentary made, then the project would have never been green-lighted and produced. It has been noted that he was given the opportunity to interject the last word into interviews, a privilege that the director says was not abused. But it has also been suggested, though not explicitly stated, that Jordan had additional editorial control beyond involving his production company.
If so, that might very well explain why there wasn’t room for Juanita Vanoy in a 10-hour documentary series. Vanoy was married to Jordan from September 1989 to December 2006, covering the entirety of the Chicago Bulls dynasty captured in The Last Dance.
To suggest that she would not have valuable insight into her ex-husband strains credibility, so there must have been a reason for her absence other than being seen occasionally on archival footage.
The documentary director says he didn’t need her
Yvette Prieto married Chicago Bulls star Michael Jordan in April 2013, so her absence from The Last Dance made sense. If documentary director Jason Hehir wasn’t going to use incorporate the perspective of first wife Juanita Vanoy, then he would also have no use for Prieto.
“I wasn’t interested in the opinion of any wife or kids in this,” Hehir explained to The Athletic. “We had the storytellers we wanted and I felt like we had the story covered from every angle.”
A statement issued at the time of the divorce said Jordan and Vanoy were parting on amicable terms, and she has been successful in her efforts to mostly stay out of the public eye while raising the couple’s three children, Jeffrey, Marcus, and Jasmine.
Her public silence about the basketball star since their divorce would suggest that the producers of The Last Dance wouldn’t have heard her say anything more unflattering than what other interview subjects offered up about Jordan, so perhaps Hehir had a point.
A very expensive divorce agreement
The breakup of his marriage to Juanita Vanoy proved costly to basketball legend Michael Jordan. The amount of the settlement has never been confirmed but has been widely cited as $168 million.
By comparison, Tiger Woods’ divorce from Elin Nordegren was said to have resulted in a $110 million settlement.
Jordan’s net worth at the time of the divorce was estimated at between $400 million and $500 million, and he has since built his fortune to approximately $2 billion.