Former Presidents Barack Obama & Bill Clinton Appeared As Versions Of Themselves In Michael Jordan Documentary
New ESPN documentary series The Last Dance chronicles the career of basketball superstar Michael Jordan, with a specific focus on his six-time championship winning days on the Chicago Bulls. The series, which premiered on Sunday, April 19, currently holds a 100% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. That hasn’t stopped Twitter from questioning some of the series’ more puzzling choices, especially when it comes to former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, both of whom get very interesting titles in The Last Dance.
You probably wouldn’t refer to Jordan as the star of Space Jam — at least, not without highlighting some of the athlete’s bigger accomplishments first. Yet fans noticed something odd in The Last Dance: Obama isn’t referred to as the former president of the United States, or even as a senator from Illinois. Instead, his title during his segments in The Last Dance simply refers to him as a “former Chicago resident.”
There is an explanation as to why Obama’s title seems so lackluster. Most people watching the documentary know Obama was the 44th president of the United States. Fewer people are aware of his Chicago roots, or his long held love for the Bulls and Jordan. For this documentary, it wasn't just about getting the most famous people to comment on Jordan's legacy, but that they had a personal connection to it.
"Barack Obama is not the kind of guy that I can find his number and text him. Michael had a connection," The Last Dance director Jason Hehir told The Athletic of including Obama in the series. "But I was pretty adamant that we don't have people in here who don't have an organic connection to the story. I think the temptation is because Michael was super famous, let's get as many super famous people in here as possible...I'm a filmmaker first and I just want to tell the story of this team as if they were not super famous."
Clinton, meanwhile, is simply given the title of “former Arkansas governor.” Hehir explained there was a good reason for this as well.
"I think the temptation would be to say, well, Bill Clinton was president in the 1990s. He has to talk about Michael because he was the President when Michael was playing and he saw Michael play live. My question was, Okay, what is Bill Clinton going to say that is different than any other fan would say about watching Michael play? Why should he be considered an authority on basketball just because he's Bill Clinton?" Hehir told The Athletic. "Now if Bill Clinton says I was governor of Arkansas when Scottie Pippen was in high school and I saw Scotty play, that's organic to the story and much more interesting."
Look, are these things true? Sure! But just as I would prefer not to be referred to as “one-time ice cream scooper” or “former high school sophomore,” I think it’s safe to say that Obama and Clinton have reached a higher level of achievement than The Last Dance credits them for.
If we’re playing this game with all the guests who appear in The Last Dance, let’s at least give Jordan something fun like “Bugs Bunny’s BFF.” It’s what Twitter deserves.