The Last Dance, ESPN’s 10-part documentary about Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, gave viewers a behind the scenes look into one of the greatest dynasties in sports history. But for as meticulous as the 10-hour documentary was, it left a lot of questions unanswered. Here are the seven biggest questions I was left scratching my head about after completing the documentary.
1. What’s going on with Michael Jordan’s eyes?
Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time and The Last Dance gave viewers insight into how his competitive spirit drove him to greatness. From the time he entered the league Jodan played with such a palpable intensity that competitors claimed they could see it in his eyes. And speaking of eyes what is going on here? They’re yellow, right?
Is he sick? Is it a black thing? He was drinking a lot during those interviews, I’m just saying.
And while we’re on the subject of Michael Jordan’s looks, can we talk about the Hitler mustache he wore in that Hanes commercial? I mean, that’s a weird choice and you just know the director and the people on set from Hanes got together to figure out how to best ask him to shave it off and probably ended up contacting Jordan’s agent about it but after getting some resistance ultimately decided not to press it since they only had a few hours with Michael on set so they just let him keep it even though it really did evoke Hitler.
2. Was Michael Jordan poisoned before the flu game?
One of the series’ most dramatic sections told the story of Michael’s infamous ‘Flu Game’ during the Bulls’ 1997 Finals appearance against the Utah Jazz. According to legend, Michael developed the flu the night before game 5 of the series but willed himself to play despite his illness. The documentary casts the game in a different light and infers Micahel had been poisoned by five (I assume) Morman Jazz fans that delivered a tainted pizza to his room the night before the game.
Is that what Michael and his team of curly-haired security guards really believe because if so I want to see a 10-part series on how that crime was orchestrated. In the documentary Michael says he was hungry at 10:30 PM and his manager started calling different restaurants but the only place open was a pizza shop so Michael’s manager placed the order and then said five delivery men showed up to their room to deliver the pizza which made Michael ill. That means that this poisoning was not planned, but was merely a crime of convenience and the fact that five (probably Morman) pizza men could make a poisoned pizza, have the necessary conversation and back and forth needed to agree on impromptu poisoning the biggest star in the world the night before a championship game, and deliver the pizza all within 30 minutes is a Jordanesque achievement unto itself and deserves at least a 30 for 30.
3. How come my father didn’t love me?
One of the defining moments in Michael Jordan’s life was when his father was murdered shortly after the Bulls won their third championship. Michael’s father was a central figure in his life as many fathers are but not mine.
My father is a man in New York named Alan Sucher who abandoned me shortly after I was born. The truth is I wasn’t even aware that he existed and was told growing up that my (now ex) stepfather was my biological dad. The situation actually mirrors the first few verses of Alive by Pearl Jam except where Eddie Vedder’s real daddy was dying my father remarried and had three new kids.
I always wonder how different I would be if I were raised by, or even just knew, my dad. Would I be happier or more secure? Would I be a better father to my own infant son? Or did his absense somehow make me a better parent because I know the emptiness that can be caused by a parent’s wilful absense?
For years I kept Alan Sucher a vague figure that I knew nothing about. I had been told he was a mean man from his mother who once contacted me when I was in high school, but I didn’t want to know anything about him because turning him into a real person and not just a boogie man I could blame for my problems allowed me to avoid dealing with the anger and sadness I felt. Once Alan Sucher became a real person then his choice to abandon me became real. So I thought of him as a nemesis and during the hardest parts of my adolescence, and the years my mother and I spent without food or housing, I cursed him for our troubles.
But at some point I realized he wasn’t the cause of all of my troubles and that it was silly to be scared of information. So I Googled his name and found his Facebook page and started collecting facts about my real father.
I spent hours scouring the internet for pictures of him and was amazed how much I saw myself in his face. It was during these late night research sessions that I discovered he had three children, the oldest of whom was only a couple years younger than me. As I stayed up late stalking their Facebook pages I studied pictures of their intact family on vacations and at graduations and Thanksgiving dinners and found it so hard to understand how Alan Sucher, the bastard who made me a bastard, appeared not only capable of love, but in fact bestowed love to a trio of children who looked so much like I did. I spent weeks thinking about these siblings and wondering whether it was possible that in addition to a heavy brow we also shared some genetic personality traits or interests that would one day bond us.
After weeks of wondering I decided I would write my brother a message through Facebook introducing myself and letting him know that I existed. I spent hours crafting a long message that contained my own biography and made clear that I wanted nothing from him except to get to know him. I told him it was up him whether he wanted to write back and that if he didn’t I would respect his decision and not contact him again.
He never wrote back. He blocked me. But my unknown sisters didn’t, a mixed blessing in that it has left open avenues for me to continue to catch glimpses of my father and the children he prefers and their life together that will never be mine.
4. Who the hell is Kenny Lattimore?
Throughout most of the documentary, Michael Jordan comes off as a no-nonsense competitor. But in one of the series’s most lighthearted scenes Jordan sits on a bus jamming out to music on his headphones. When asked who he was listening to Jordan responds “Kenny Lattimore,” proudly boasting it was a new album that he was able to listen to because he was friends with the singer.
Who is Kenny Lattimore? I mean, I remember 1997 R&B– you had that Next song about dancing too close to a lady and getting a boner, and then the My Pony song, and probably a few Mary J. Blige or Boyz II Men songs still on the radio. But Kenny Lattimore?
I looked it up. Here is the song Jordan was listening to in the clip. Is this sexy? Was it ever sexy? Did Michael Jordan have sex to this song? If Alan Sucher or my siblings read this does it come off as quirky and humorous or the ramblings of someone with severe abandonment issues who probably should have worked to address it a long time ago?
5. Where was Karl Malone?
One of the highlights of the documentary was hearing Jodan’s competitors describe what it was like playing against the greatest basketball player of all time. Conspicuously absent from the documentary was Karl Malone, who played in two finals against the Bulls. Why would Karl Malone refuse to talk to the documentarians? I mean, if they asked Justin Timberlake to be in the documentary they definitely asked Karl Malone. Are you telling me he just said no? He had no interest? He was too busy?
And while we’re on the topic, I’m supposed to believe Alan Sucher never had an interest in knowing what was happening with me my entire life? He had to have typed my name into Google or Facebook at some point. He must know I’m not a giant screw up or anything. I went to law school and have written briefs for the Supreme Court, for Christ sake. I started a successful non-profit. I’ve moderated a Congressional debate. I married my high school sweetheart. I have a child who I live with and never once thought about leaving. I run this stupid website and have made enough money in my life despite coming from nothing and having never been given a dime from him that I don’t need or want this guy’s money. But despite all that he still had no interest in like even knowing? Even just a little? My point is Karl Malone should have been in the documentary and it was a dick move that he wasn’t and I hope he feels bad about that decision.
6. At what point did they write the Space Jam movie?
The plot of Space Jam involved the Danny Devito alien wanting to build the best basketball team in the universe so he sends little shrimp aliens to earth to steal the essence of the best NBA players including Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, and Sean Bradley for some reason. The shrimp aliens don’t steal Michael Jordan’s essence because at that point he had retired from the NBA and was a baseball player. So when Bugs Bunny’s team needs to play the Monstars they kidnap Michael Jordan who agrees to quit baseball and play basketball again.
When was this script greenlit? Real-life Jordan decided to return to basketball after the 1994-95 baseball strike cut his season short. He rejoined the Bulls in March 1995 and started shooting Space Jam in June.
Two months just isn’t enough time to organize a production of this size from scratch, which means there had to be some idea of a script and pre-production work and scheduling happening before Michael decided to return to basketball. But if that is true then what was the original plot of Space Jam? Did it always involve Michael Jordan returning to basketball even though when work began on the movie he was publically committed to being a baseball player?
At what point was the decision made that Space Jam would be about Michael Jordan finding his way back to basketball and also at what point did Alan Sucher decide he was just never going to meet me or acknowledge that I am his son? Was it before he left? Or maybe when he left he promised himself that he’d have some role in my life in the future but as the years went by that initial commitment he made to himself to be there for his son started to fade? Or maybe he thought that trying to start a relationship with me would cause problems or hurt feelings with his new kids or their mother and invite them to ask uncomfortable questions about what type of person their dad really is and how he could have done something so unbelievably shitty to an infant who only ever wanted to feel like he was wanted?
7. Are we still allowed to listen to R. Kelly? I need to cry now.