Weeks after the NBA suspended the 2019-20 season, Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James appeared on the Road Trippin podcast where he discussed the Michael Jordan's The Last Dance, asking for it to be released right away. James referred to the docu-series as 'done', which caused fans to demand The Last Dance release date to be moved ahead. However, Jason Hehir revealed that The Last Dance was far from being 'done' in March.
On the show, James hinted that the documentary would bring in a lot of views if it was released during the sports hiatus. He added that if he was Jordan, he would be on a conference call asking why should it be held onto until June. He then emphasised on the documentary being 'done', and should be out when everyone is at 'home'.
Right before the suspension, director Jason Hehir was supposed to travel to Spokane, Wash to shoot a final interview with Utah Jazz star John Stockton on March 10. But ESPN called of Hehir's trip as flights were getting cancelled and he would've been stranded in Spokane. In a recent interview, Hehir added that if he had been stuck in Spokane, they would not have been able to complete the episodes. The league suspended the NBA 2019-20 season on March 11 shortly after Jazz's Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19.
Reports added that around the same time, producer Mike Tollin was in New York and was asked to return home to Los Angeles. He was supposed to fly to Atlanta to shoot a sequel to 'Varsity Blues'. Tollin, who is the co-chairman of Mandalay Sports Media, recalled his conference call with ESPN, Netflix, Jump Inc., NBA and Mandalay Sports Media where they discussed the work Hehir needed to do before The Last Dance was completed.
At the time, Hehir was worried about not being able to complete the series till June. Only the first three episodes were finished, while seven episodes were in post-production as all non-essential businesses in New York were asked to close down on March 16. As two members of their editing team tested positive for the virus, Hehir had been continued work from their apartments in New York. The team worked together with apps like Zoon and Vimeo to put together the remaining episodes.
The original plan was to fill the gap between the NBA Finals, airing the first two episodes on June 2 and finish the series after Game 4. Chairman of Mandalay Sports Media and co-owner of the Golden State Warriors Peter Guber stated they wanted to keep the 'momentum of the games alive'. Usually, a series finish all their episodes before their debut but Hehir finished episode 9 on Friday while the last one will be completed by May 10.
Guber added that they had to be 'blind or stupid' to not realize the opportunity and vacancy available in the marketplace. He believes The Last Dance is a 'cultural experience' and is something bigger than a film. The first four episodes of the documentary are now the most-viewed original broadcast on ESPN since 2004, bringing in an average of 6 million viewers.
The documentary is the most talked about show on social media with millions of mentions, being distributed to over 190 countries via Netflix. During an interview, Tollin stated that in the end, everything fell into place for the documentary to come together.