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Photo: Vincent Lafloret/Getty Images

"The Last Dance" premiered Sunday on ESPN, marking the first time in nearly two months that the sports world sat down to watch something together.

Why it matters: In addition to entertaining millions of self-quarantined fans, the 10-part Chicago Bulls-focused documentary will give ESPN a tentpole event to build its programming around, while providing sportswriters and other content creators (i.e. all of social media) with fresh source material during these sports-less times.

My thoughts after two episodes:

  • Would never happen today: The idea of an owner letting a GM break up a dynasty that just won three straight championships — which ultimately led to the best player in history retiring early — seems impossible and would never happen in today's NBA where superstars wield far more power.
  • 63-point game: If you had to pinpoint the exact moment when the basketball world realized MJ was different, it was probably the 1986 playoff game against the Celtics, when a 23-year-old Jordan scored 63 points on 41 shots (zero threes) the day after playing golf with Danny Ainge. Fun fact: 34 years ago today.
  • So many interviews: From Patrick Ewing breaking down Jordan's game-winning shot in the 1982 NCAA title game to Barack Obama and Bill Clinton sit-downs, the sheer numbers of interviews was astounding.
  • God bless Alan and his project: "Sirius" by The Alan Parsons Project has reigned for more than three decades as the undisputed champion of jock jams. Hearing it last night alongside footage of the Bulls taking the floor gave me goosebumps. Always will.

The big picture: "The Last Dance" — and more specifically, Michael Jordan — is the perfect vehicle to remind us what sports can provide, what athletes can symbolize, and what we lose when athletic competition is ripped away from us.

  • For the last two months, sports media has focused heavily on the business of sports — leagues, franchises, networks — because of the unprecedented impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on the industry.
  • But what we all truly love about sports are not the institutions that have been built up around them, but rather the ideals and stories that sit at their center: Winning at all costs. Chasing greatness. Writing a legacy. Coming together as a team. Waking up early to put in extra work. Destiny.

The bottom line: As a culture, we love well-crafted narratives, larger-than-life characters and iconic moments. Sports are the most prolific source of all three, and the first two episodes of "The Last Dance" made that abundantly clear.

Go deeper

5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Kellyanne Conway's parting power pointers

Kellyanne Conway addresses the 2020 Republican National Convention. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

Kellyanne Conway has seen power exercised as a pollster, campaign manager and senior counselor to President Trump. Now that his term in office has concluded, she shared her thoughts with Axios.

Why it matters: If there's a currency in this town, it's power, so we've asked several former Washington power brokers to share their best advice as a new administration and new Congress settle in.

6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

GOP holdouts press on with plans to crush Cheney

Screenshot of emails to a member of Congress from individuals who signed an Americans for Limited Government petition against Rep. Liz Cheney. Photo obtained by Axios

Pro-Trump holdouts in the House are forging ahead with an uphill campaign to oust Rep. Liz Cheney as head of the chamber's Republican caucus even though Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told them to back down.

Why it matters: What happens next will be a test of McCarthy's party control and the sincerity of his opposition to the movement. Cheney (R-Wyo.) is seen as a potential leadership rival to the California Republican.

Democrats aim to punish House GOP for Capitol riot

Speaker Nancy Pelosi passes through a newly installed metal detector at the House floor entrance Thursday. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

House Democrats plan to take advantage of corporate efforts to cut funding for Republicans who opposed certifying the 2020 election results, with a plan to target vulnerable members in the pivotal 2022 midterms for their role in the Jan. 6 violence.

Why it matters: It's unclear whether the Democrats' strategy will manifest itself in ads or earned media in the targeted races or just be a stunt to raise money for themselves. But the Capitol violence will be central to the party's messaging as it seeks to maintain its narrow majorities in Congress.

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