The NBA has been on hiatus since March 11 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, leaving a massive basketball void in the hearts of fans everywhere. The league should currently be in the midst of the 2020 NBA Playoffs, but instead commissioner Adam Silver is trying to find a way to safely go about resuming play.
While there have been no live games, ESPN did its part in helping ease that burden by releasing the highly-anticipated docuseries, “The Last Dance” ahead of its original June release. The program features the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls team, which was notorious for all their off-court drama and what would be Michael Jordan’s final season with the franchise.
Episodes 5 and 6 recently aired, with one being dedicated to the late Kobe Bryant. The episode featured a young Bryant and Jordan at the 1998 NBA All-Star Game, with interviews and commentary from Bryant explaining what it was like to match up with Jordan on the court.
After his retirement in 2016, Bryant began his next venture into media and went to work producing content in various mediums. However, right before hanging up his sneakers for good, Bryant found out about footage of “The Last Dance” and decided to document his own ending, according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:
When he learned that Jordan had the rights to footage shot of his final season, Bryant commissioned a camera crew to film his final seasons. Bryant even inquired about producing the documentary on Jordan’s final season.
Bryant’s final seasons on the court were marred by injury, with his infamous Achilles tendon tear signaling the beginning of the end of an illustrious 20-year career. Despite that, the Los Angeles Lakers legend was still a must-see commodity that drew countless fans each and every night he played.
When Bryant announced the 2015-2016 NBA season would be his final year, every game was a highly publicized event with players and fans both looking relishing their last chance to see the Lakers icon in action. That kind of content would be must-see television and serve as a reminder of just how popular and beloved Bryant was in basketball circles.
As of now, it is unclear what will happen to that footage, but with Bryant’s passing it is probable that a documentary will be produced in similar fashion to Jordan’s. Bryant is one of the most influential figures in NBA history, so it is only right people see his story told the way he would have it wanted it be.