SI Insider: 'The Last Dance' Is a Biased Portrayal Of Michael Jordan

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'The Last Dance' has provided sports fans with something to look forward to during this time without sports. Chris Mannix talks about some of the biases presented in the series.

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Robin Lundberg: The last dance has been a huge success, and it has successfully portrayed Michael Jordan as kind of a superhero. For more, I'm joined by our senior writer, Chris Mannix. Now, Chris, while it's been great entertainment, it sort of is a giant Michael Jordan propaganda commercial.

Chris Mannix: Yeah, look, no question it has been masterfully entertaining. But it is equally no question that it's being portrayed through the lens that Michael Jordan wants you to see it through. And, you know, two things specifically have stood out to me over the course of this documentary. One has been, you know, the Isaiah Thomas situation. I mean, Isaiah Thomas being kept off the Olympic team in 1992 and Jordan's denial for it. I mean a lot of it was kind of goofy. I mean there are, you know, writers like Jack McCallum who have Jordan on record saying that he was heavily involved in the decision to keep Isaiah Thomas off the team. It's been such extensive reporting, and it has been disappointing to me in a way to not see Jordan confronted, at least with that reporting now. He can say whatever he wants. Subjects of documentaries, of stories often do, but you'd like to see him be confronted with that reporting. 

Equally disappointing, Robin, has been the portrayal of Jerry Krause. I mean, Jerry Krause was instrumental in the construction of those Bulls teams. Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant are not there without Jerry Krause. Bill Cartwright, a key member of the first wave of Bull championships, is not there without Jerry Krause. Tony Kukoc, who gets maligned in that documentary is not there without Jerry Krause. I mean, it really is a little insulting to Jerry to see him belittled and demeaned and almost discounted as a part of that franchise. You can argue and quibble with how that franchise ended. Should Krause have been more lenient towards Phil Jackson, been more open to keeping the team together? But make no mistake, that team does not exist without the usefulness of Jerry Krause.

Robin Lundberg: Yeah. I mean, they won fifty five games when Jordan went to play baseball, right? Plus, we get it. Michael Jordan is competitive. They hit us over the head with that a lot.

Chris Mannix: Now, there's no question about that. Look, Michael, you know, you can say like there are star players, right, that drive you like being competitive is not new. Larry Bird was extremely competitive. Bill Russell said nasty things to his teammates. I mean, there was a lot of competitive players that pre-dates Michael Jordan. But the flip side of it is, a guy like Tim Duncan, ultra competitive, sure, but didn't demean his teammates in the way it seems like Michael Jordan did when he was part of that Bulls team. 

It's a well-done documentary, but the reality is, Robin, in today's day and age, to do documentaries like this, you often have to cede control. Kobe Bryant's documentary with Showtime was done in partnership with Kobe Bryant. Look at the last documentaries from the last five or six years. Most of them are done in conjunction with the subjects, which obviously makes for great entertainment, but you have to kind of view it as that. Entertainment without all the objectivity. 

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