On Sunday night, ESPN debuted the hotly anticipated documentary The Last Dance, a 10-part series chronicling the 1997-1998 season of the Chicago Bulls—one of the greatest, most storied teams in sports history. You don't have to know what the triangle offense is, who Phil Jackson was, or have ever touched a big, round, bouncy pumpkin to be completely enthralled in this series. But more than anything, you don't need to know basketball to be in awe of the parade of huge suits worn by Michael Jordan in the series.
The 90s were a time when the oversized suit reigned supreme. Unlike the bespoke slim-fit suits of the 60s that have made a comeback in the last decade (a fire style, though it isn't for everyone), tailors of the 90s took a more is more approach to suitmaking. There must have been a major explosion at the fabric factory on suit day in the early 90s that led to an overabundance of tragic grey and brown merino wool, forcing fashion designers to proclaim giant, ill-fitting suits the look of the decade for NBA players, members of All 4 One and Color Me Badd, and Snoop Dogg during his 1996 murder trial (it's OK, he was acquitted).
Watching parts one and two of The Last Dance, it was impossible not to focus on all six-foot-six-inches of Michael Jordan swimming in what seems like hundreds of yards of suit, with a beret on top for added flair. The jacket is down his thighs, nearly grazing his knees, with the shoulders falling fully off his frame, making the all-star legend look like one of the Little Rascals trying to sneak into an R-rated movie. Is he sitting on top of Scottie Pippen's shoulders? Game-wise, definitely yes. Fashion-wise, possibly! The trousers, too, look like those baggy pants crunchy white women with dreads wear after yoga. Every one of the humongous, unhinged suits he wears in the series look like they were designed by David Byrne for Structure. They're like a Van Heusen x The Mask collab, or a Steve Harvey suit line for Mervyn's. These things are a zoot suit riot! I cannot unsee the big baggy suits, and it's simply incredible. Look at these monstrosities!
While some younger readers might only know Jordan as the crying meme, it's important to also know him as one of the GOATs of the NBA and one of the biggest personalities in all of sports, impacting the way the game is played and styled since he first stepped foot on the court. His influence is boundless. So it's only natural for his enormous suits to match his larger-than-life persona.
The Last Dance not only serves as a time capsule to the Bulls dynasty—the drama, the stadium-sized personalities, the gut-wrenching losses and the electrifying glory—but also to the mega-sized suits that fashioned the era. To paraphrase the reviled, late Chicago Bulls general manager Jerry Krause, it wasn't Michael Jordan's suits that were huge; the organization behind them was huge. Like the material required for one of Jordan's suits, there are still millions of miles of thread waiting to be unspooled in this story of arguably the greatest basketball player that ever lived.
We're only two episodes into this series, and the story and the suits only get bigger from here.