After making waves among NBA fans and the sports world at large as the majority of professional sports remain shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, ESPN’s ‘The Last Dance’ is causing a stir among some depicted in the documentary series as well.
Horace Grant — who won three championships alongside Michael Jordan during his time in Chicago, and was featured numerous times in the series — offered up a harsh critique of the documentary Tuesday in an interview with David Kaplan of ESPN 1000 Chicago’s Kap & Co. program.
Tops among Grant’s issues with ‘The Last Dance’ was how he was depicted, particularly in the section that suggested Grant was the source of Sam Smith’s book The Jordan Rules, which caused controversy in the early-’90s for its unflattering depiction of Jordan.
Said Grant about Jordan’s claim that it was he who leaked much of the info to Smith for the book:
“As I stated to everybody, that is a downright, outright, completely lie. Lie, lie, lie,” Grant told Kaplan. “If MJ had a grudge with me, let’s settle it like men. Let’s talk about it, or we can settle it another way. But yet and still, he goes out and puts this lie out that I was the source behind [the book]. Sam and I have always been great friends. We’re still great friends. But the sanctity of that locker room, I would never put anything personal out there.
“The mere fact that Sam Smith was an investigative reporter, that he had to have two sources, two, to write a book, I guess — why would MJ just point me out? It’s only a grudge, man. I’m telling you, it was only a grudge. And I think he proved that during this so-called documentary, when, if you say something about him, he’s going to cut you off — he’s going to try to destroy your character.”
Grant also took umbrage with the notion that ‘The Last Dance’ depicts a wholly truthful account of Jordan’s tenure with the Bulls, given Jordan’s own involvement with the series’ production — a critique others have made recently as well.
“When that so-called documentary is about one person, basically, and he has the last word on what’s going to be put out there, what’s going to be put out there is not a documentary,” Grant said. “It’s his narrative of what happened in the Last, quote-unquote, Dance. That’s not a documentary. Because a whole bunch of things was cut out, edited out. That’s why I call it a ‘so-called documentary.’”
Earlier in the interview, Grant pointed specifically to the treatment of Jordan’s trash-talking to teammates in discussing his thoughts on the truthfulness of the series.
“We know — who was there as teammates — that about 90 per cent of it was, I don’t know if I can say it on air, but B.S. in terms of the realness of it,” Grant told Kaplan. “…It wasn’t real. Because a lot of things he said to some of his teammates, that his teammates went back at him. But all of that was kind of edited out of the documentary, if you want to call it a documentary.”
The former NBA All-Star also criticized the series’ depiction of Scottie Pippen, when asked by Kaplan if Pippen was portrayed unfairly — most notably in regards to its handling of Pippen’s decision to sit out the final seconds of a playoff game in ’94.
“I have never seen a quote-unquote ‘No. 2 guy’ as decorated as Scottie Pippen portrayed so badly. In terms of the migraine, in terms of the 1. seconds, [being called] selfish. I have never seen this in all of my life,” Grant said. “Pip was out there in Game 6, could barely walk, getting knocked down on his back, trying to do whatever he could to help that team. My point is, why was that 1. seconds in the documentary, so-called documentary, about Pip? MJ wasn’t even on the team. Why was that in there?
“We handled that that year really well as a team. Pip knows that he was wrong for doing it. We went after the game, Bill Cartwright stood up and said what he had to say, and then we handled it. It was over. It was over. We go on to take the Knicks to seven games. It was over. Why bring that up? That’s my question to everybody out there who’s listening.”
Grant parted ways with the Bulls in 1994, joining the Shaquille O’Neal-Penny Hardaway Magic as a free agent and reaching the NBA Finals with Orlando in ’95. He also spent time with the Seattle SuperSonics and the Los Angeles Lakers, winning his fourth title with the latter franchise in 2001 alongside O’Neal and Kobe Bryant.
Asked if he and Jordan still speak, Grant said they haven’t communicated since a text message conversation roughly three years ago, but that he’d pay his respects to his former teammate if he saw him today.
“The craziest thing is that for one of my charities, he sent me an autographed pair of shoes. I don’t understand it — if he has some difference with me, he could’ve texted me, he could’ve called me, the whole nine yards. But if I see him today, we would hopefully pay our respects to each other, because we went through three championships together,” Grant said.
“But if not, believe me, I’m not going to lose any sleep over it.”