John Stockton and the Utah Jazz made back-to-back appearances in the NBA Finals against Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in 1997 and 1998, which will be heavily featured in the final two episodes of The Last Dance on ESPN this Sunday night.
The Last Dance exists to tell Michael Jordan’s story and everyone knew that going in, including John Stockton, which is why he originally wanted no part of it. While he did finally agree to participate in the project, he’s one of a few players that didn’t want to relive being beaten by Jordan and the Bulls.
John Stockton isn’t the only person who didn’t want to take part in ‘The Last Dance’
During the six championship runs in the 1990s, Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls kept a number of great players and teams from winning an NBA championship. While the New York Knicks had their chance when Jordan was away playing baseball, they could never get past MJ himself, losing to the Bulls in each of the first four championship seasons. While he agreed to do an interview for the docuseries, Patrick Ewing is refusing to watch the majority of The Last Dance because he doesn’t want to go through the agony again.
The same can be said for Reggie Miller, whose Indiana Pacers came as close as anyone to dethroning Michael Jordan in an epic seven-game set in the 1998 Eastern Conference Finals. So when director Jason Hehir came calling, Miller resisted for quite some time before finally agreeing to do it.
That’s how things went with John Stockton as well.
It took ‘The Last Dance’ director two years to track down John Stockton, who called it a ‘Michael Jordan puff piece’
While The Last Dance tells the story of Michael Jordan’s entire career, it’s obviously built around the 1997-1998 Chicago Bulls and all of the interesting and interweaving storylines that came from that season. Naturally, the story ends with the Bulls defeating John Stockton’s Utah Jazz for the second time in a row, something that the all-time NBA assists and steals leader didn’t want to discuss, which is why he avoided Hehir for years. As The Last Dance director recently revealed, it took some time to track Stockton down, who had an interesting take on the documentary.
“I finally got (Stockton) on the phone after like two years of chasing him. (Stockton) said, ‘I don’t want to be a part of a Michael Jordan puff piece.'”The Last Dance director Jason Hehir
A “Michael Jordan puff piece” is certainly an interesting way to describe The Last Dance, isn’t it? But Hehir was happy to get Stockton on board, as his insight into those Finals series makes the story better as he, along with longtime teammate Karl Malone, were the two biggest stars for the Jazz. Hehir is just lucky he got to Stockton in time.
The two-time Hall of Famer didn’t do his interview until March
Seeing as how The Last Dance wasn’t supposed to premiere until later this summer, Jason Hehir didn’t conduct his interview with John Stockton until just two months ago, March 10 to be exact. The following day, oddly enough, Utah Jazz star Rudy Gobert became the first NBA star to test positive for COVID-19, which was the first step in shutting down the league. The crisis had obviously started earlier than that and Hehir thought that he shouldn’t fly out west, where Stockton resides, to do the interview himself.
“On Tuesday, March 10 we interviewed him in Spokane. It was so deep into this COVID crisis that we decided that I shouldn’t fly to Spokane because we’re afraid that flight would get grounded indefinitely. So we had someone from out there, a stringer from Seattle drive in and do that interview.”The Last Dance director Jason Hehir
Luckily, the interview got done and we’ll see exactly what John Stockton has to say about Michael Jordan in the final two episodes.
*All quotes courtesy of “The Dan Patrick Show.”