Before joining ESPN, veteran producer Mandy Cohen worked at WGN covering the Chicago Bulls’ championship runs in the 1990s. In the video above, she recalls a memorable moment with Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen (now an ESPN NBA analyst on The Jump) no one ever captured, not even The Last Dance. The series concludes with Episodes 9 and 10 airing Sunday, May 17, 9 p.m. ET on ESPN (TV-MA) and ESPN2 (TV-14-L). Cohen offers more insider’s perspective on the Bulls’ dynasty below.
What are your impressions of The Last Dance?
The Last Dance has done an amazing job on so many levels. First, the footage they have is simply unreal. I thought, having been there for eight years and done a million games and features, etc., that we had seen it all. They have uncovered stuff I never knew existed! They have also given a voice to so many people not with us today: [the late NBA Commissioner] David Stern, [Bulls executive] Jerry Krause. Without them, the story isn’t complete, and the old interviews they found are incredibly impactful. The storytelling has been riveting, and I can’t wait to see how they wrap it up next week.
In what ways has Jordan changed through the years?
The Last Dance has done a great job showing sides of MJ that people have never seen and giving people a chance to see how he changed over the years. Take a look at the shot he made versus Cleveland [to clinch the series in the 1989 Eastern Conference playoffs against the Cavaliers] and his reaction then and compare it with the basket he hit in Utah [to beat the Jazz to win the 1998 NBA Finals, Jordan’s sixth title]. That’s a different person, right? The only thing that never changed about him was his focus and intensity. It just manifested itself differently as he aged.
What do you remember most about 1996 NBA Finals between the Bulls and Seattle SuperSonics, Jordan’s first full season back after his first retirement from pro basketball and the fourth of his six NBA titles?
That season was super emotional. Michael was back for a full run, and the city seemed half overwhelmed with joy and half relieved as things finally felt “right” again. But what I remember most about those Finals was the end. The raw emotion. The superhero who cried. Those images will always stick with me.
Mandy Cohen provided the video above.
ESPN commentators Cassidy Hubbarth, Sarah Spain and model Cindy Crawford talk about the Bulls-Sonics’ Finals in sidebar below.
Ben Cafardo contributed to this post.