ESPN’s The Last Dance finished its massively successful five-week run on Sunday, giving us the fitting conclusion to a series that has captivated viewers as fans around the world try to cope with the extended absence of professional sports. The backlash, however, was inevitable.
Given Michael Jordan’s penchant for nurturing lifelong grudges and taking every opportunity to settle old scores, a docuseries produced under his watch was sure to rankle some feathers. For Jordan, no slight was ever too small. Hell, it didn’t even have to be based in reality in some cases. It is perhaps telling that his own teammates were among his biggest targets.
Horace Grant punched back the hardest, once again scoffing at the allegation that he was Sam Smith’s source for the infamous The Jordan Rules expose and taking it a step further to call Jordan a liar and a snitch for his revealing comments about the illicit parties older Bulls players participated in during the early days of his career.
But he wasn’t the only one unhappy with his portrayal. Scottie Pippen reportedly came away from the series harboring strong feelings about what he apparently sees as a lopsided emphasis on the more complicated parts of his tenure in Chicago. Here’s what David Kaplan said in his ESPN 1000 show, Kap & Co.
According to @thekapman, Scottie Pippen is “so angry” at Michael Jordan on how he was portrayed in the Last Dance. “He is beyond livid.”
(Via ESPN 1000’s Kap and Company)
— Daniel Greenberg (@ChiSportUpdates) May 20, 2020
In fairness, the series didn’t shy away from some of Pippen’s less flattering moments, including the time he refused to check back into a playoff game after Phil Jackson called the final shot for Toni Kukoc, the conference finals game he missed against the Pistons because of a migraine, which Jordan was openly skeptical about in the documentary, and how he demanded a trade and underwent ankle surgery during their final season together in 1998 when he could’ve had the procedure earlier in the offseason. Both Horace Grant and Dennis Rodman have come to defend Pippen, with both of them offering praise for their former teammate and how much he meant to those teams.
Still, you could argue that Pippen has emerged from the series relatively unscathed, as most of these instances have been discussed ad nauseam over the years and account for mostly minor blemishes on his NBA legacy. Even Pippen himself admitted that he might no do things differently, given another opportunity. Regardless, Pippen is now officially among the ranks of the many aggrieved parties that the series trained its sights on.