Owner of The Ringer and one of the creators of the 30 for 30 documentary series Bill Simmons has given some behind the scenes details of The Last Dance Michael Jordan documentary which is taking the world by storm.
The first two parts of the documentary dropped on Netflix Australia on Monday night, with eight further instalments set to be released.
The series features previously unreleased footage of a camera team that followed Jordan throughout the 1997 NBA season.
Simmons said the footage, produced by NBA Entertainment, is the key part of the remaining parts of the documentary.
“This DVD has been around since the late 1990s. NBA Entertainment, they asked to film, the only deal they made was they won’t do anything with the footage unless you say it is okay,” Simmons said on his podcast.
“The (Bulls) let them behind the scenes and you got a little taste of it in the first two parts (of The Last Dance), but you get much more of a taste in the next eight parts. This was more of a background setup first two.”
Simmons went on to reveal he and the 30 for 30 team had a fleeting moment in 2009 where they almost got the footage and made the documentary, but ultimately it became too expensive of an endeavour for ESPN at the time.
“We were doing 30 for 30, we had it going, it was in motion and it was Spring of 2009,” he said.
“We were making them (30 for 30 documentaries) and this it was, this Jordan thing, could we get something, and we had heard about this mystery DVD – this legendary DVD where they had followed him around.
“They ended up mailing us the DVD and I still have it and it was their cut of this two-hour documentary that NBA Entertainment had done.
“It was dated and you would have to take some stuff and change some things and do some interviews, but it was the real Jordan.
“This was a quick moment in time where we thought ‘could we turn this into a documentary’, we brought in at least one really good director … and it just came down to the NBA didn’t want to it.
“Jordan, we had no chance … the feedback we got over and over again was that it was going to be incredibly expensive and for the amount of time they had spent following him and the time, energy, money, everything and then on top of it compensating Jordan, who also had to allow all this footage where, as you’ll see in the next eight parts, doesn’t come off great in some of this stuff, but this is the real Jordan.
“He had no interest and it kind of died. You didn’t pay $10 million for documentaries in 2009."
How much would it have cost to put together the 10-part series in 2020?
“The way they did this deal, it was a Netflix and ESPN deal, ESPN gets the live rights and Netflix gets the overseas rights and then they eventually get the documentary," Simmons said.
“And they put in real money. I don’t know what the exact price is, but I guarantee you it was over $20 million – something like that.”
6.1 million people tuned in to watch the documentary when it aired in the U.S on Monday.