Fans also found it odd Bill Clinton was referred to as simply a "former Arkansas governor" in the doc.

By Rachel Yang
April 20, 2020 at 12:22 AM EDT
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When you think of Barack Obama, the first thing that comes to mind might be, oh I don't know, that he was the 44th president of the United States. But in The Last Dance, the highly-anticipated new Michael Jordan docuseries, Obama's legacy is boiled down to  ... a "former Chicago resident."

The first two installments of the ESPN series premiered on Sunday, and many famous figures — including Jordan himself — were interviewed for the project. Obama, who worked in Chicago for years and represented Illinois in the state and U.S. Senate, was also interviewed about Jordan's legacy.

However, many fans found it odd that the chyron, or digital title card, that appeared below Obama's name referred to him simply as a former Chicago resident.

"Calling Obama a 'former Chicago resident' is quite the understatement," one person tweeted.

Others, like radio personality Sam Roberts, found the brevity witty. "Whoever’s writing these captions is the MVP of this doc," he said, noting that the series also referred to Bill Clinton as the "former Arkansas governor."

As strange as it may seem, the people behind The Last Dance had a reason for writing Obama and Clinton's titles that way for the project.

In an interview, director Jason Hehir emphasized that he wanted each subject to have an "organic connection" to Jordan and his story, as opposed to simply including "as many famous people ... as possible." Given that Jordan played for the Chicago Bulls, the doc's creators chose to highlight Obama's relationship to the city rather than his later accomplishments.

As for Clinton, Hehir said the politician added a different perspective because he was the governor of Arkansas, where Jordan's teammate Scottie Pippen grew up.

"My question was, okay, what is Bill Clinton going to say that is different than any other fan would say about watching Michael play?" Hehir told journalist Richard Deitsch. "Now if Bill Clinton says I was governor of Arkansas when Scottie Pippen was in high school and I saw [Scottie] play, that's organic to the story and much more interesting."

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So ... mystery solved. Regardless of how people felt about Obama's title, it seems clear that the doc is exactly what desperate sports fans have been clamoring for recently. Hehir recently spoke to EW ahead of The Last Dance's premiere and discussed why it was perfect for this particular moment.

"It's entertainment and an escape and diversion from people's everyday stresses, and now people's everyday stresses have been exponentially increased, given the situation that the entire world is going through together," he said, referring to the COVID-19 pandemic. "So the opportunity to give people even a small respite in this horrible time is certainly something that all of us are grateful for and feel a responsibility for."

The next two installments of the 10-part ESPN series will air Sunday, April 26.

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