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Jason Hehir, the Director Who Went One on One With Michael Jordan

Hehir’s 10-part docuseries about Jordan’s final season with the Chicago Bulls in 1998 drew 6.3 million viewers the night it premiered on ESPN and ESPN2 in April, a record for a documentary on the network, and an average of 5.6 million over the following month, making it the most-watched doc in the network’s history.



Photographer: Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images

The first episode of The Last Dance aired when most of the U.S. had been in lockdown for a month and live sports were almost totally on hiatus. ESPN moved up the release by two months to give sports-starved fans something to get excited about—and something to justify the $8 a month cable subscribers were spending.

Hehir wove decades-old, behind-the-scenes video with modern-day interviews and commentary into a rumination on the price of glory. Jordan appeared a little overweight and glassy-eyed for interviews; he sat alone, a cigar and drink sometimes at hand. Hehir, who made the ESPN docs Andre the Giant and The Fab Five, about the University of Michigan basketball team of the early ’90s, used the access to Jordan and the previously unseen footage to tap into nostalgia, distract viewers, and complicate the picture of one of the most famous athletes of all time.