'The Last Dance' Episode 5-6: From Kobe Bryant to Spike Lee, What to Expect From Next Parts of Michael Jordan Documentary

The late Kobe Bryant, a courtside diatribe with Spike Lee and a mole in the Chicago Bulls locker room all feature in the Episode 5 and 6 of The Last Dance, which premiere this Sunday on ESPN.

The former is among the interviewees appearing in Episode 5 of ESPN's 10-part documentary chronicling Michael Jordan's final season with the Bulls.

Bryant, whose life was tragically cut short when he died in a helicopter crash just outside Los Angeles in January this year, made his professional debut at the beginning of the 1996-97 season.

By then, Jordan had already four rings to his name, the last of which had arrived only a few weeks prior to the 1996 NBA Draft, in which the Charlotte Hornets selected Bryant with the 13th overall pick and immediately traded him to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Throughout his 20-year career, Bryant elicited comparisons with Jordan. The most striking similarity between the two is undoubtedly the ferocious determination and will to win they shared.

"It was wild, sitting there watching these episodes so far, because I feel like I am watching Kobe Bryant play in the 1980s and early 1990s with a different team," Luke Walton, who played alongside Bryant for a decade, told The Athletic earlier this week.

Crucially, both Jordan and Bryan flourished under the guidance of Phil Jackson. The former won all his six NBA titles under Jackson, who then moved to Los Angeles in 2000 and guided the Lakers and Bryant to five titles over the next decade.

The segment featuring Bryant relies on footage from the 1998 All-Star Game, which marked the Lakers star's debut in the NBA's annual extravaganza. In the clip, Bryant studies Jordan's game and asks him for tips to improve his fadeaway jumper.

The scenes with Bryant and Jordan sharing the court make for emotional viewing, given Jordan's touching eulogy at the former's memorial service in February, in which he described the Lakers great as a younger brother.

Aside from Bryant, Episode 5 also features Spike Lee as an unlikely villain, a role fulfilled by former Bulls Jerry Krause and the late 1980s Detroit Pistons in the opening four episodes of The Last Dance.

Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, NBA
Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant(L) and Chicago Bulls guard Michael Jordan talk during a free-throw attempt during the fourth quarter of a game at the United Center in Chicago on December 17, 1997. Vincent Laforet/AFP/Getty

A diehard New York Knicks fan, the Oscar-winning film director is a regular presence court-side at Madison Square Garden and a number of NBA stars, most notably Reggie Miller, have previously been on the receiving end of Lee's notoriously sharp tongue.

On March 8, 1998, it was Jordan's turn to exchange verbal pleasantries with Lee.

As Jordan tormented the Knicks, cameras showed Lee standing up in frustration from his seat court-side and exchanging words with the No. 23.

"He can't guard me," Jordan told the Academy Award winner of his defender, before daring Lee to come into the game himself to try and stop him.

The Knicks feature in both episodes premiering on Sunday, with the documentary touching on the growing rivalry between them and the Bulls.

Chicago had become for the Knicks what Detroit had been for the Bulls. The latter beat the Knicks 4-2 in the Eastern Conference semifinals in 1989, before sweeping them in the first round of the 1991 playoffs and defeating them 4-3 and 4-2 in the conference semifinals and in the Eastern Conference finals in the following two seasons.

The Knicks eventually exorcised their demons to beat the Bulls in seven games in the Eastern Conference semifinals in 1994 en route to reach the NBA Finals against the Houston Rockets.

That iteration of the Bulls, however, did not feature Jordan, who was enjoying his first retirement from the game. The No. 23 eventually returned to the court and Chicago thrashed the Knicks 4-1 in the Eastern Conference semifinals in 1996, Jordan's first full season since his return.

"They were trying to be the next Chicago Bulls as we were to the Detroit Pistons," Scottie Pippen recalls in the documentary.

Built around Patrick Ewing, the Knicks reached the Eastern Conference semifinals 11 times in 12 seasons from 1989 but never managed to hoist the Larry O'Brien Trophy aloft.

"Mentally they were a hardworking team, but I firmly believed that when we were playing at our best and they were playing at their best we were a much better team," Jordan explains in The Last Dance.

Episode 5 also touches on the search to identify which Bulls player kept leaking out information to the press.

In the documentary, then Bulls-head coach Phil Jackson recounts that Krause called him into his office and demanded an explanation for different quotations that had appeared in a book.

"Who do you think could do this? Were you a part of this?"

Drama in the Bulls locker room is coming to next week's episodes of #TheLastDance pic.twitter.com/0CveCQLMEP

— ESPN (@espn) April 27, 2020

Krause had earmarked "about 25" excerpts from the book, Jackson remembers, and wanted to know whether any player in the team was disclosing locker room secrets to the press.

The book in question is, presumably, The Jordan Rules. Written by Sam Smith, who then covered the Bulls for the Chicago Tribune and features heavily throughout the documentary, the book was released in 1991 and immediately sparked controversy for what some perceived to be unwarranted criticism of the Bulls.

In Episode 5, Jordan swiftly dismissed the suggestion he was responsible for speaking to the press and singles out former teammate Horace Grant as the mole inside the locker room.

In the trailer, former Bulls center Will Perdue agrees with Jordan.

"As we started winning championships, and everybody talked about Michael, and then everybody talked about everybody else, that really p****d off Horace," Perdue explains. "He felt slighted."

The episode, however, ends with a forceful deny from Grant, who claims he never disclosed anything to Smith.