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Ken Burns Is Not Here for ESPN’s Michael Jordan Docuseries, The Last Dance

Photo: Amy Sussman/Getty Images

Between the former Chicago resident cameo and Dennis Rodman nostalgia, you might be enjoying ESPN’s ten-part The Last Dance, but if you ask documentarian Ken Burns, the whole endeavor is one massive air ball. “I find it the opposite direction of where we need to be going,” the Academy Award–nominated filmmaker behind The Civil War and Baseball told the Wall Street Journal this week.

So why, exactly, does Ken Burns, who says he hasn’t seen the series, dislike The Last Dance — which explores Michael Jordan’s basketball legacy, focusing on his time spent with the Chicago Bulls — so much? According to Burns, the involvement of Jordan’s production company, Jump 23, on the project calls into question the legitimacy of Last Dance as a documentary.

“If you are there influencing the very fact of it getting made, it means that certain aspects that you don’t necessarily want in aren’t going to be in, period,” says Burns, saying he himself would “never, never, never, never” allow such a partnership on one of his films. Added the documentarian, “And that’s not the way you do good journalism … and it’s certainly not the way you do good history, my business.” ESPN’s The Last Dance is currently airing every Sunday until May 17.

Ken Burns Is Not Here for ESPN’s The Last Dance