'Starving' sports fans buzzing about Michael Jordan documentary produced by Philly native

By KYW Newsradio 1060
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Sports fans craving something to watch other than re-runs got a treat over the weekend — one that’s going to happen every week for the next month.
The first two episodes of the much-anticipated Michael Jordan documentary, “The Last Dance,” premiered Sunday night on ESPN.

TONIGHT. #TheLastDance pic.twitter.com/NKGEOl2yuu

— NBA (@NBA) April 19, 2020

The 10-part feature is about the 1997-98 NBA Champion Chicago Bulls season —Jordan’s last — as well as the stories and backgrounds of key members of that team.

Fans and NBA players were tweeting about the documentary like it was a live sporting event. Afterwards, it was obvious people loved it and want more.

Best 2hours of the quarantine.... #TheLastDance

— Tobias Harris (@tobias31) April 20, 2020

Michael Jordan’s Last Dance was fantastic and I loved all two hours of it!! Young fans that never got to see Michael play now understand why he’s the -- of basketball!

— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) April 20, 2020

The whole country would stay up until 4am to finish it tonight!!!! I know I would.

— Kendrick Perkins (@KendrickPerkins) April 20, 2020

I could’ve watched all 10 episodes right now.

— Zach LaVine (@ZachLaVine) April 20, 2020

When they rolled the credits just now a tear came to my eye. #TheLastDance

— Spencer Dinwiddie (@SDinwiddie_25) April 20, 2020

Man, this brought back so many good memories. The truth is, MJ has been a MAJOR influence on Soooooo many cats and our mind sets. No matter the sport we have been blessed to play!! #LastDance

— Brian Dawkins (@BrianDawkins) April 20, 2020

The feature's executive producer is Philadelphia native Mike Tollin. He has produced numerous documentaries, as well as movies such as "Coach Carter," "Radio" and "Varsity Blues."

"Been doing this for 40-plus years, and I’ve never been involved in a production with this level of anticipation," Tollin told 94WIP Sportsradio’s Angelo Cataldi and The Morning Team last week.

Despite winning five championships in seven seasons, including two in a row, many knew 1997-98 was probably the last year the dynasty Bulls would be together.

Because of that, an NBA Entertainment producer named Andy Thompson, who’s the brother of former player Mychal Thompson and uncle of Golden State’s Klay Thompson, went to his boss — current NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, who worked with NBA Entertainment in the late '90s — about following the Bulls with a film crew through the season. 

Silver approached Jordan with the idea, and Jordan agreed to it with the premise that he would have say on when, and if, the footage could be released.

In 2016, Tollin scored a meeting with Jordan about using the footage for a project. In a sense, 76ers legend Allen Iverson helped Tollin land the job.

It turns out, Jordan was a fan of an Allen Iverson documentary Tollin produced in 2014, and that's what tipped him over the edge.

Tollin described that moment during the pitch.

"He takes his reading glasses off and he looks up at me and says, 'You did that?' ... Takes his reading glasses off, looks up and says, 'Watched that thing three times. Made me cry. I love that little guy,'" Tollin said. "That was kind of the clincher."

"People were saying, 'C'mon, man. Give us something. There's no sports. We're starving,'" Tollin said. "And we all had to kind of say, "How far can we accelerate it and still be able to get the shows done in time?'" 

Editing won't wrap up entirely until the final weeks of it airing, according to Tollin.

"We’re going right down to the wire."

No one knows when sporting events will come back, but for now, fans have a chance to relive some memories of that epic Bulls team and learn something new at the same time.

“He's a great guy who just cares deeply, is intense, is emotional," Tollin said of Jordan on WIP. "And he was really honest with us. I think you see a candor in Michael Jordan that you've never seen before."