'The Last Dance' Director Reacts to Michael Jordan Tearing Up While Filming

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistMay 11, 2020

Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan speaks to the media about hosting the NBA All-Star basketball game during a news conference in Charlotte, N.C., Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Chuck Burton/Associated Press

Perhaps the best moment of the first eight episodes of "The Last Dance" took place just 45 minutes into the interview process. 

Sitting in a chair in his palatial house, Michael Jordan was asked by director Jason Hehir about the perception that he's not a nice person due to decades' worth of stories about his at-times contentious relationship with teammates. 

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In that moment, we saw nearly a full range of emotions from Jordan. He was at first defiant, saying people who describe him as a "tyrant" only do because they "never won anything." Jordan then tried to explain his mindset, choking up as he attempted to say why he drove his teammates in that manner.

"I wanted to win, but I wanted them to win and be a part of that as well. Look, I don't have to do this. I'm only doing it because it is who I am. That's how I played the game. That was my mentality. If you don't want to play that way...don't play that way," Jordan said, his voice cracking before he asked Hehir for a break.

Having spent more than two years getting to know Jordan over the process of making The Last Dance, Hehir said Jordan's competitive drive is one of the few things that can make him so emotional. 

"What are the things that elicit that kind of emotion from him? Showing him his mom reading a letter home from him, his mom's voice, his mom's face. Family elicits emotion from him," Hehir told Jalen & Jacoby. "And his philosophy, how he lives his life, defending that. He is so adamant about that that he gets emotional about it."

Hehir said the "whole project changed" in that moment because he was fearful that Jordan would not be as open and vulnerable as he needed to make the documentary work. Instead, it took less than an hour into their first extended interview to give Hehir what is arguably the centerpiece of the entire series.