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‘The Last Dance’ Director Jason Hehir Believes Jerry Krause ‘Has An Enormous Amount To Be Proud Of’

The central villain of The Last Dance is Jerry Krause, the former Chicago Bulls general manager who drafted Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen but got over-zealous in the late 1990s and is believed to have torn the team down far too soon. Speaking with Uproxx earlier this week, director Jason Hehir said that based on his research and interviews during the making of The Last Dance, the breakup of the Jordan Bulls was a result of “pettiness and jealousy,” not a major gaffe by Krause.

Their time together had simply run its course.

“Jerry Krause is not dunking from the foul line,” Hehir said. “But he did do all that leg work. He did do the work necessary to put the pieces in place. His reputation and his legacy is fraught and I think that one of the things that I wanted to do in this is demonstrate how difficult it was for him to navigate those relationships and how cruel they could be to him.

“So, some people are misinterpreting that as the film ridiculing him. If anything, it’s the opposite. I want to demonstrate to people just what this guy went through on a daily basis.”

Because backlash comes for everything beloved, The Last Dance, the docuseries airing on ESPN over the course of five weeks, generated criticism this week from the likes of filmmaker Ken Burns over the idea that it is not true journalism because it was produced by Jordan. While that line of thinking misunderstands the process of making the film (Jordan had full control over the footage), one part of the argument that does hold up is that no one in the movie is there to represent Krause’s perspective.

Perhaps that’s because it’s hard to find anyone who stands by him all these years later, sad as that may be. Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf appears throughout the documentary, but uses the opportunity to distance himself from Krause’s decision even though as the owner of the team, he had final say over everything.

Though Krause is remembered as the man who dismantled a dynasty, Hehir hopes fans also see how masterful a job Krause did building it in the first place.

“Jerry Krause has an enormous amount to be proud of and that’s the kind of relationship I hope I would’ve forged with him,” Hehir said. “Once he sat down, that he knew where I was coming from and he felt safe with me, but of course he’s got regrets. I would ask him if he had any regrets, if he had any regrets about the way that situation was handled in the late ’90s and if he does have regrets, what he would have done differently.”

The idea that everyone has regrets is in the DNA of every scene of The Last Dance, but it’s a cruel twist of fate that the villain isn’t around to explain himself.