Must See Documentaries For “Last Dance” Wary Jazz Fans
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The NBA world is abuzz with ESPN’s new The Last Dance documentary, chronicling the career of Michael Jordan, notably his final season with 1997-98 Chicago Bulls. Last week, I advised wary Utah Jazz fans to tune in, despite the heartache that may come with watching Jordan’s Bulls eliminating John Stockton and Karl Malone from the Finals for the last time.
Understandably, some Jazz fans didn’t head my advice. With episodes three and four of the 10 part series airing on Sunday night, many fans continued their boycott of the documentary.
The Jazz played a larger role in episode four, as the series highlighted a February 4, 1998 matchup against the Bulls at the then Delta Center that saw the Jazz erase a 22 point first-quarter deficit to win the game 101-93.
The good news for those who may not be able to stomach the idea of 10 hours of Jordan’s brilliance on the basketball court, several documentaries for Last Dance wary Jazz fans have been produced over the past few decades.
From the partnership of Stockton and Malone to the playing days of head coach Jerry Sloan, and the tumultuous life of play by play voice “Hot Rod” Hundley, Jazz fans can cleanse their pallet of The Last Dance with these productions that are readily available through various streaming services.
John Stockton: Stealing Time, Passing History
Documenting the career of the Jazz hall of fame point guard, John Stockton: Stealing Time, Passing History tells the story of Stockton’s rise from unheralded high school prospect to one of the 50 best players in NBA history.
With interviews from the entire Stockton family, fellow NBA players, and Stockton’s former coaches, the documentary is a must for all Jazz fans who want to fully understand one of the greatest players in franchise history.
Karl Malone: ESPN Sports Century
Though Karl Malone has yet to have a feature-length documentary produced about this life, the ESPN Sports Century series featured the Jazz hall of famer in an hour-long episode.
Released September 27, 2005, the episode tells the story of Malone’s sorted relationship with his children, his tough upbringing in an impoverished Louisiana home, and his rise to become one of the greatest power forwards in NBA history.
Featuring interviews with Malone’s teammates, family, and the media that covered him, the documentary draws a clearer picture of one of the most controversial players in NBA history.
The Dream Team
Perhaps most similar to The Last Dance, The Dream Team from ESPN followed the 1992 United States Olympic gold medal men’s basketball team.
Featuring both Stockton and Malone, the documentary chronicles the USA Olympic Committee’s decision to allow professional athletes to compete in the games, and the formation of the greatest team in basketball history.
Jazz fans will be particularly fond of the footage of the relatively unknown Stockton walking the streets of Barcelona unrecognized as his teammates are mobbed any time they stepped into the public eye.
The documentary is replayed regularly on NBATV.
The Team With Heart: The 1983-84 Utah Jazz
Digging deep into the archives of the Jazz, The Team With Heart: The 1983-84 Utah Jazz explores for the first team in Jazz history to qualify for the postseason.
Narrated by KSL Sports Jeremiah Jensen, the 20 minutes video reveals rarely seen footage from the season interlaced with interviews from players that were on the roster including Thurl Bailey, Mark Eaton, and head coach Frank Layden.
Though the Jazz are most closely identified with Stockton and Malone, the 83-84 squad helped pour the foundation that would later become the Finals era teams.
Jerry Sloan: Vintage NBA
Like Sports Century, ESPN’s Vintage NBA chronicles some of the best players in league history, including Jazz head coach Jerry Sloan as a player with the Bulls.
Nicknamed “The Original Bull” Sloan was a tough-nosed two-time All-Star who helped establish Chicago as a basketball city. The episode features interviews with former opponents and Jazz guard Jeff Hornacek who went onto a coaching career of his own.
Jazz fans may be most intrigued by the long stretches of game footage from Sloan’s playing days.
Utah Jazz On The Road
Though the modern era of the Jazz seem to be more hidden away than ever, the franchise itself produced a documentary following the team in Quin Snyder’s first year as head coach.
The hour-long video that is available on YouTube follows the Jazz over a road trip through Memphis, Boston, Philadelphia, and New York. Narrated by Steve Brown, the documentary shows everything from the team equipment managers to rare footage of Snyder talking to his team in the locker room.
SB Nation: Karl Malone And John Stockton
If Jazz fans were worried about seeing footage of the Bulls eliminating Stockton and Malone from one playoff series, SB Nation’s Untitled series featuring the Jazz duo and their many disappointing playoff exits might be tougher to watch.
The series focuses on all-time great sports figures who never won a championship. Previous episodes have focused on Charles Barkley and Steve Nash, and even left the NBA to focus on legends like baseball’s Barry Bonds, and the NFL’s Randy Moss.
Though most Jazz fans will remember the back to back excruciating exits from the NBA Finals, what the video does best is chronicle the many missed opportunities the team had to go further in the playoffs before breaking through to meet Jordan’s Bulls.
Released in the spring of 2018, Hot Rod is the feature-length documentary that tells the story of Jazz play by play voice Hot Rod Hundley.
Though beloved by Jazz fans, Hundley’s complicated struggles between stardom and his family life are retold in the 90-minute documentary. Featuring interviews with former colleague Jim Nantz, and Hundley’s three daughters, the footage is a sobering look at the long time voice of the Jazz.
The documentary is streaming on Amazon Prime.
Ben Anderson is the beat writer for the Utah Jazz for KSLSports.com.
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