With eight episodes released and two more episodes to come, ESPN’s The Last Dance documentary is still generating a great deal of discussion, both during and after the program airs. Anticipation is exceptionally high for the climax on Sunday, May 17 but, if fans of Michael Jordan and the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls are still looking for more content after the marathon, 10-hour documentary concludes, the good folks at Disney are providing another hour of programming.
On Thursday, it was announced that ABC would air a prime-time special called After the Dance with Stephen A. Smith: A SportsCenter Special, and the follow-up program will hit the air on Tuesday, May 19 from 8-9 pm ET. While the 10-episode series primarily airs on ESPN in the United States, ABC makes logical sense for this kind of expansion and, in theory, it could open things up to a new audience under the network umbrella.
As far as the programming is concerned, Smith is arguably ESPN’s most high-profile on-air talent and he brings an audience by himself. In addition, Los Angeles Lakers legend and Hall of Famer Magic Johnson is scheduled to appear and, even beyond that, the announcement teases “surprise appearances by other NBA legends.”
Though it is undeniably strange to have this kind of coverage of a documentary event under normal circumstances, The Last Dance is already driving the news cycle in a way that has never occurred in the sporting landscape. ESPN has enjoyed success with Scott Van Pelt anchoring SportsCenter immediately following the weekly airings and, while that is still scheduled to happen after the ninth and tenth installments air, Tuesday evening will have an all-new look and a new network home for the series.