With the 2019-20 NBA season still on indefinite hiatus due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the basketball world has been starved for content.
The league made its NBA League Pass program free for fans through April 24 to help ease the lack of game action, and ESPN followed that up by releasing its special 10-episode docuseries, “The Last Dance,” ahead of its original June release date.
The series covers Michael Jordan and the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls team and it has been a massive hit, drawing in tens of millions of viewers each week.
With Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers being featured in the “The Last Dance,” Magic Johnson talked about the relationship between the late icon and Jordan, via Arash Markazi of the L.A. Times:
“You could see the beginning of this special relationship that was going to take place and start forming then,” Johnson said. “Kobe respected guys but it was different [with Jordan]. He idolized Michael in a way that was different from anybody else.
“It was like, ‘Man, I’m trying to be like you but I also want to show you what I got in this All-Star game too.’ I loved the fact that I was there and I could witness it just like Larry [Bird] and I witnessed during the  Olympics, how we were passing the torch to Michael. Some things you never forget and that was a moment I’ll never forget — the torch being passed.”
Episode 5 of “The Last Dance” was dedicated to Bryant, whose affinity and idolization of Jordan is well-documented as the Lakers legend patterned his game after him and is arguably the closest to ever come to matching his on-court skill and scoring ability.
As a young up-and-comer in the league, Bryant relished the opportunity to go against Jordan and fans could see the proverbial torch being passed.
In their later years, the two forged a strong personal relationship and Bryant often mentioned he would call Jordan to ask for advice. It was apparent the two were close when Jordan spoke at Bryant’s public memorial, calling him a little brother and that he was a part of him.
“The Last Dance” has proven to be the perfect holdover content for basketball fans everywhere as the series has shed light on numerous behind the scenes dynamics and situations the public was not privy to during the time.
Although the NBA is still awaiting further instruction on how to proceed during these difficult times, “The Last Dance” has at least given people something to look forward to.