Scott Burrell Reminisces Through “The Last Dance”
Hunter O. Lyle – Sports Editor
In a world without sports, many fanatics find themselves trapped inside, watching old clips of their favorite players, day dreaming about when they could tune in at night to watch games live. This brings a whole new meaning to seasonal depression.
However, while times may seem dreary for sports fans now, ESPN is filling that void with a long-anticipated documentary, which UConn legend and Southern men’s basketball coach Scott Burrell is featured in.
“The Last Dance,” which airs two episodes every Sunday from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m., is a 10-part documentary that gives a glimpse into the Chicago Bulls locker room during the 1997-98 season as the team competes for their sixth championship.
While it heavily focuses on that one season, Michael Jordan’s sixth championship and final season with the Bulls, the documentary also explores Jordan’s supporting cast like Dennis Rodman and Scottie Pippen.
Throughout this spectacular docuseries, while learning about Jordan’s drive, Pippen’s contractual woes and Rodman’s work ethic, one can also see cameos from Burrell — but this time he’s not yelling from the sidelines of Moore Field House in a suit and tie. Instead, he’s wearing No. 24 in red and black.
“This is what we lived every day,” said Burrell on “The Last Dance.” “This is a side people never saw.”
After being drafted in 1993 to the Charlotte Hornets, Burrell bounced around a few teams before landing a roster spot in Chicago in 1997, where he eventually earned a ring alongside Jordan.
As a part of this documentary, Burrell was interviewed by ESPN for the film, but he has also been on numerous sports talk shows, such as Sports Center, almost daily, always sporting Southern gear in front of the cameras.
“It’s just every day. It’s six [interviews] a day, seven a day, eight a day. I mean the other day I had nine,” said Burrell. “It’s fun and people want to know. It’s all fun for me because it relives the glory days of winning a championship.”
Since starting on April 19, six hour-long parts have been released so far and Burrell has appeared in most of them, typically seen when Jordan yells at the whole team during practice. While Jordan himself has said this documentary might make him seem like a bully when it comes to interacting with his teammates, Burrell said he never took any of it personally.
“It’s funny to see myself in it because they’ve all been tough parts for me, but I tell everybody this,” said Burrell. “When MJ goes at you or pushes you, he’s trying to make you better. Mentally, physically. So, I enjoyed the challenges that Mike brought every day. It made me a better person and a better player. It made me a better person for later in life and prepared for me later in life.”
Expanding on that point, Burrell said the era he played in was much different than nowadays, and Jordan motivated his teammates with an old era mentality.
“It’s a different era back then when we played compared to now. No one took anything personal. Everyone took it as a challenge or took it as ‘I need to get better’ or ‘I need to learn more,’” said Burrell. “Back then, no one took it as bullying or he was harassing guys or being belligerent to people. No one took it like that. People took it as ‘this man wants to win, I need to do my part to help this team win. I need to get better, I need to learn the offense,’ and we loved that challenge.”
Watching the documentary, Burrell said he was able to reflect on the greatness that was Michael Jordan.
“I just hope everyone enjoys the documentary and sees what it takes to be great,” said Burrell. “Michael goes out there every day, he doesn’t have any excuses. He plays every minute of every game. He wants people to remember him every time he steps on the court as the best, and he never let anyone down who saw him play.”