ESPN's Michael Jordan 'The Last Dance' Averaged 5.1M Viewers for Episodes 7, 8

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMay 11, 2020

Chicago White Sox's Michael Jordan is seen during batting practice prior to spring training exhibition game against the Florida Marlins in Miami, Fla., April 1, 1994.  The White Sox announced that the former Chicago Bulls' basketball superstar has been assigned to the Class AA Birmingham Barons.  (AP Photo/Wayne Fleisher)
Wayne Fleisher/Associated Press

ESPN's documentary miniseries on the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls, The Last Dance, continued its solid string of ratings.

Per Isabelle Lopez of ESPN Press Room, Sunday's Episodes 7 and 8 "averaged 5.1 million viewers across ESPN & ESPN2 from 9-11 p.m. ET, with episode 7 (9-10 p.m.) averaging 5.3 million viewers and episode 8 (10-11 p.m.) averaging 4.9 million viewers, based on initial Nielsen reporting."  

Episodes 7 and 8 focused on the murder of Jordan's father, James Jordan Sr., his retirement from basketball to briefly pursue a career in professional baseball and the conspiracy theories surrounding the death of his father and that first retirement. 

It also took a closer look at the Jordan-less Bulls, led by Scottie Pippen, including Pippen's notorious decision to sit out the final 1.8 seconds of Game 3 of the 1994 Eastern Conference Semifinals against the New York Knicks. Pippen was incensed that head coach Phil Jackson drew up the final play of the game for Toni Kukoc, not him, and he refused to re-enter the game.

Dan Favale @danfavale

"sorry not sorry" -scottie pippen https://t.co/XsuWfCcwsk

Sarah Spain @SarahSpain

Pippen can be one of the most underrated players of all time & one of the most beloved teammates of all time & STILL be in the wrong for sitting out. & STILL be in the wrong for saying today "If I had the chance to do it over again, I probably wouldn't change it." #TheLastDance

Nate Jones @JonesOnTheNBA

I get why Pippen was pissed, but you NEVER quit on your teammates. You deal with it after the game. Everyone makes mistakes though.

Kukoc hit the shot, and the moment remains one of the few stains on Pippen's otherwise sterling career. 

Finally, the episode examined Jordan's return to the Bulls, the team's then-record 72-10 mark in the 1995-96 season and its NBA Finals win over the Seattle SuperSonics. And as always, it followed the team through the 1997-98 season, namely focusing on the team's first two playoff series wins that year. 

SportsCenter @SportsCenter

Raw and real. MJ's first title without his dad by his side brought out every emotion. #TheLastDance https://t.co/B1MuNT4OgA

The conclusion of Episode 7 also included Jordan getting emotional when talking about his intensity and his tendency to be hard on his teammates in an effort to get the best out of them:

SportsCenter @SportsCenter

ICYMI: The end of Episode 7. WOW. 😳 #TheLastDance https://t.co/N3c5lN0mLI

ESPN @espn

"I remember thinking ... 'that is going to be a powerful moment in this documentary.'" #TheLastDance director @jasonmhehir talks about the riveting end to episode 7. https://t.co/HVTlrrgQes

There are now just two episodes of The Last Dance remaining, a bummer for sports fans who have been happy to have the documentary miniseries fill the sports void left by most leagues remaining on hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.