On Sunday, ESPN will debut the first 2 episodes of “The Last Dance,” the 10-part documentary directed by Jason Hehir that details the final season of the Chicago Bulls’ dynasty. While most of the footage and interviews detail the 1997-98 season, the show is also largely focused around various aspects of Michael Jordan’s complicated career and legacy.
The series was originally slated to air in the summer after the conclusion of the 2019-20 NBA season, but ESPN moved the premiere date up to April 19 with sports all over the country currently on hiatus. Now, we will get 2 episodes each Sunday between April 19 and May 17.
BetOnline has also stepped up. The site released a slew of prop bets in advance of the documentary’s debut on Sunday night. You have until 5pm on Sunday to place your first round of bets. Let’s break down some of the more alluring betting options.
Will “The Last Dance” Win an Emmy Award?
ESPN has garnered plenty of acclaim for their 30-for-30 documentaries over the years. “The Last Dance” doesn’t fall under the 30-for-30 umbrella, but those that have already seen and reviewed the show are saying good things.
While the 30-for-30s generated plenty of plaudits, they’ve only won an Emmy once. That came back in 2014. The series earned nominations in 2017 and 2019 but failed to win both times. As you can see, the odds are stacked pretty heavily against ESPN’s Michael Jordan doc winning an Emmy (-500).
ESPN’s 2016 O.J. Simpson documentary, “O.J.: Made in America,” is probably the closest approximation to “The Last Dance” that the network has put out. However, that series was only tangentially about sports. The primary focus was Simpson’s infamous murder trial.
While the Bulls documentary will cover the personal lives of those involved in the team’s run, the show is centered around basketball. Based on this review from the Hollywood Reporter, it sounds as though those already inclined to like basketball will be the ones that enjoy “The Last Dance” the most. It may not capture the attention of non-sports fans as well as the O.J. Simpson series did.
That’s certainly something that could hurt the show’s chances when it comes to winning an Emmy later this year. I don’t hate the idea of taking a small flier on “yes” given the +300 odds, but it’s not the most likely option to pay off.
The Bet:No (-500)
Will Barack Obama Tweet About the Documentary?
We know former president Barack Obama will make an appearance or two over the course of the 10-part series. The 44th POTUS can be seen sitting down for an interview in the show’s trailer. The former Illinois senator is an avid Bulls fan, and he awarded Jordan with the Presidential Medal of Freedom right before leaving office a couple of years ago.
Most of BetOnline’s odds are specific to the show’s first episode. While it’s safe to assume Obama will be among the millions that will be tuned in on Sunday night, whether he actually takes to Twitter to promote the show obviously remains to be seen.
Considering everything going on in the country these days, I have a hard time imagining Obama trying to deflect attention to something as trivial in the grand scheme of things as a show about the Chicago Bulls. The ex-president typically uses his Twitter account to discuss politics and other matters. Bet against Obama tweeting about “The Last Dance” this weekend.
The Bet:No (-300)
Will “Gambling” Be Said?
One thing we know about Michael Jordan is that he’s quite the avid gambler. Some might even go as far as to say he’s a gambling addict. “The Last Dance” will surely touch on Jordan’s betting habits, though we obviously have no way of knowing whether it will be a primary focus of the show’s debut episode.
Take a gander at the following excerpt from the aforementioned Hollywood Reporter review:
“That isn’t to say Hehir doesn’t challenge Jordan, who directly addresses things like his reputed gambling addiction — a camera crew followed the 1997-98 Bulls team, yielding much of the doc’s best footage, an astonishing amount of which involves Jordan placing bets on almost everything — rumors that his 18-month retirement was a stealth suspension, conspiracy theories about his father’s death and Space Jam.”
A popular conspiracy theory among fans it that Jordan’s first retirement wasn’t actually a retirement at all. Some speculate that Jordan’s gambling habits got so out of control that NBA commissioner David Stern actually suspended His Airness for a year-and-a-half. Fearing the negative public ramifications, though, the NBA supposedly kept the suspension under wraps and allowed Jordan to “retire” in order to pursue a pro baseball career.
This whole thing almost surely didn’t happen, but it’s fun to think about. ESPN’s Rachel Nichols recently shared a gambling story about Jordan told by former teammates Scottie Pippen and Steve Kerr:
This was the most tame (as in, TV-friendly) Michael Jordan gambling story I could think of to ask Scottie Pippen and Steve Kerr about when we sat down last month…and it still floored a lot of people 😲 pic.twitter.com/LkPcMeOVxK
I’m not sure the odds should be so heavily in favor of “yes,” but that is still the bet I’m most comfortable making here. Gambling figures to come up repeatedly over the course of the 10-episode series.
The Bet:Yes (-250)
Will Kobe Bryant Be Seen?
Kobe Bryant was one of the many shown in the initial trailer for “The Last Dance,” which was released in December. Tragically, Bryant was killed about a month later in helicopter crash. Kobe’s appearance in the documentary will sadly be some of the last new video footage we’ll ever have of the Lakers legend.
Bryant’s playing career didn’t overlap with Jordan’s for very long, but the two were able to maintain a friendly relationship over the years. Jordan was certainly Bryant’s idol, and it’s almost eery how similarly the two played the game. At Kobe’s public funeral at Staples Center a few days after his death, Jordan called Bryant his “little brother.”
I’d imagine we’ll see quite a bit of Bryant throughout the series, and I think it’s a near-lock that we see him at some point during the premiere, as well.
The Bet:Yes (-350)
Who Will Be Shown First in “The Last Dance”?
Michael Jordan not included*
While the larger topic of “The Last Dance” is the Bulls’ dynasty from the 1990s, Michael Jordan is certainly the central figure. So, BetOnline didn’t even include MJ as an option for the first person to be shown when the show debuts. It’s a given that we’ll be seeing or hearing from Jordan first.
It would be quite weird if the first person other than Jordan to appear on screen would be Jerry Seinfeld, Justin Timberlake or Pat Riley. Adam Silver is another pretty unlikely choice considering he wasn’t the NBA commissioner during Jordan’s playing career.
Of the long shots, I think Obama makes for an interesting call at +1000. We now the ex-president is involved in the show, so I could see taking a low-dollar flier on the former POTUS given those odds.
Scottie Pippen (+275) and Phil Jackson (+300), who were alongside Jordan during all 6 of the Bulls’ championship runs, are understandable favorites here. Pippen was the Robin to Jordan’s Batman, while Jackson was the architect of Chicago’s entire playing style. I think it’s safe to assume we’ll be seeing plenty of both men over the course of the 10-hour doc.
Both Pippen and Jackson make for strong options here, but I’ll side with Jackson given the slightly more profitable odds.
The Bet:Phil Jackson (+300)
Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with GamblingSites.org since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, bu ...
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