John Stockton Wanted No Part Of Michael Jordan’s Last Dance ‘Puff Piece’
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – ESPN’s documentary on Michael Jordan “The Last Dance” almost didn’t feature Utah Jazz legend John Stockton. The Hall of Famer didn’t want to be a part of a “puff piece” according to director Jason Hehir. The director told the story of Stockton’s reluctance on The Dan Patrick Show.
“The Last Dance” is a 10 part documentary series detailing the final season of Jordan’s career with the Chicago Bulls. The series covers Jordan’s youth, climb to superstardom in the NBA, and his six championships in Chicago.
“I finally got [Stockton] on the phone after like two years of chasing him,” Hehir said. “[Stockton] said, ‘I don’t want to be a part of a Michael Jordan puff peace.'”
The notoriously quiet Stockton has avoided the public spotlight since retiring in 2003. The Jazz fell to Jordan’s Bulls in the 1997 and 1998 NBA Finals.
“I had never heard John Stockton’s voice,” Hehir admitted. “I’d never heard it, he’s so reticent, he could have sounded like Scottie Pippen or he could have sounded like my mom. I had no idea what he was going to sound like.”
Lucky To Get The Interview
Beyond finally getting Stockton to agree to be a part of the documentary, ESPN got lucky with the interview’s timing. Stockton sat for the conversation just as the coronavirus pandemic shut down much of the United States.
On March 11, Jazz center Rudy Gobert became the first major American athlete to test positive for the coronavirus. Stockton recorded his interview just hours earlier.
“On Tuesday, March 10 we interviewed him in Spokane,” Hehir said, “It was so deep into this COVID crisis that we decided that I shouldn’t fly to Spokane because we’re afraid that flight would get grounded indefinitely. So we had someone from out there, a stringer from Seattle drive in and do that interview.”
The Jazz have yet to play a prominent role through the first six episodes of the series. With just four episodes remaining, Stockton and the Jazz should be featured heavily in the coming two weeks detailing the two NBA Finals meetings.
Interviewing Legends For The Last Dance
The series has featured prominent names in the basketball world. In addition to Stockton, Hehir spoke to Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.
Fellow Hall of Famers Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, and Kobe Bryant have also been featured in the series. Despite conducting more than 100 interviews, not every player has been eager to sit down to discuss Jordan’s greatness.
“We got every person that we wanted to tell a story,” Hehir said. “There were people who said, “No, I would rather not share that.”
Like Stockton, Five-time All-Star Reggie Miller was reluctant to commit to the documentary.
“We tried and tried and tried and we were getting official nos from Reggie,” Hehir said, “but it still stings with these guys.”
Eventually, Hehir was able to complete the documentary with the who’s who of NBA stars.
“Larry Bird is legendarily reluctant to speak about anything,” Hehir said. “Magic [Johnson] told me that when he did he called Larry and said because I did it, you have to do it.”
Stockton played all 19 seasons of his Hall of Fame career with the Jazz. The 10-time All-Star is the NBA’s All-Time leader in assists and steals and was named one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history in 1996.
Selected 16th overall in the 1984 NBA draft, the Gonzaga product is part of the legendary draft that also featured Jordan, Barkley, and fellow Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon. Though public appearances have been sparse in Stockton’s post-NBA career, he served as an assistant coach for the Montana State women’s basketball team while his daughter was on the roster.
“The Last Dance” airs on ESPN (uncensored) and ESPN 2 (censored) at 9 p.m. EST.