The Last Dance has taken the world by storm, with audiences around the globe tuning in to Netflix every week to explore the nuances and tics that made Michael Jordan one of the greatest athletes of all time.
The series was an ESPN production, who are known for their high-quality documentaries exploring the fringes of some of sports biggest events and personalities. Today, we’ll explore the other athletes who deserve The Last Dance treatment.
One of the scene stealers from The Last Dance, Jordan’s teammate, affectionally known as “The Worm” deserves his own 10 part series. As arguably one of the most colourful presences on and off the court, Dennis Rodman was the Wario to Michael Jordan’s Mario.
On the court, his record of being the first player in NBA history to win five different championships with two different teams is enough to write him into the history books. His live-wire and wildcard energy made him an amazingly endearing presence in 90s basketball, but his off-the-court life is just as interesting.
Rodman went out with Madonna, had a bizarre foray into professional wrestling, appeared on the original version of Love Island (that’s right, before Maura and Greg you had Shane Lynch and Dennis Rodman!) and somehow became involved in North Korean politics, reportedly forming a close friendship with Kim Jong-Un.
If that isn’t enough for a 10 episode series, then we don’t know what is.
The 70s were a strange time for football; you had megastars like Pele and Cruyff at the height of their powers, but players’ wages were still modest in comparison to what we see today. It was the era before television money and all-seated stadiums, so there was a certain rough and tumble charm to it.
Enter Paul Breitner.
On the pitch, he was a key part of West Germany’s 1974 World Cup triumph on home turf, forming a tasty partnership with Franz Beckenbauer and Berti Vogts for Der Mannschaft. He is one of only four players to have ever scored in two World Cup finals; there’s no denying his talent on the pitch.
Off the pitch, he was a troubadour who wasn’t afraid to speak his mind in an era that was already extremely politically charged. An avowed Maoist, Breitner was known to bring Mao’s Little Red Book to training and have a portrait of the Chinese leader in his house.
His political views made his move to Real Madrid in 1974 all the more baffling, as Spain was still in the clutches of General Franco.
Prior to the 1982 World Cup, Breitner accepted an offer from a German cosmetics company for 150,000 Desutche Mark if he took part in a campaign.
In a total contradiction, he accepted, causing uproar, foreshadowing the scandal-ridden tournament West Germany were about to have (lest we forget The Disgrace of Gijon or goalkeeper Harald Schumacher hospitalising French defender Patrick Battiston in the semi-final).
For the hat-trick, Breitner was announced as Germany’s new manager in 1998, only to have the decision reversed a mere 17 hours later by the German FA.
Chaotic doesn’t begin to describe it, and you’d need a 20 part series to fully cover his career, but A Last Dance examination of Paul Breitner would be box office television and an award season goldmine.
For such an innocuous sport, baseball has produced its fair share of scandals. None more fascinating than the ballad of Barry Bonds. Records fell before him like dominos, with his record only comparable to Babe Ruth in the modern era.
With 14 MLB All-Star titles to his name, Barry Bonds is, by acclaim, the greatest baseball player of the modern era. But to this day, his legacy is overshadowed by scandal.
In 2007, as his career was winding down, Bonds was indicted on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice for allegedly lying during a federal government investigation into Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative, a company that found itself in the centre of a doping scandal.
The ruling was overturned in 2015, but by then it was too late; Bonds’ reputation was tarnished. His entry in the Baseball Hall Of Fame has been denied time and time again, with Baseball Writers’ Association of America contending he used performance enhancing drugs.
During his career, Bonds also found himself in the middle of a row with the MLB Players Union over licensing, as he believed he could make more money from independent deals, becoming the first player in 30 years not to do so.
In his heyday, Bonds was a force of nature, often winning games by himself, with his volatile personality underpinning his competitive nature. Now, his legacy has been tainted by scandal.
A 10 hour sit down with the man himself, letting him tell his side of the story, would make for compelling television, and would help finally turn the page on an incredible career.
Let us know in the comments if you’d watch any of these!