It's been over two months now since the NBA suspended the 2019-20 season due to the coronavirus pandemic, but we've thankfully had "The Last Dance" to keep us company for most of that time. Originally, the documentary was supposed to come out in June to accompany the NBA Finals, but was pushed up to fill the empty schedule.
While that was a blessing for fans, and even the creators of the project, who ended up having a major spotlight on their film, it also took a tremendous amount of hard work behind the scenes., the entire thing wasn't complete when the first few episodes started airing.
In fact, Hehir noted that they hadn't even completed the interview with John Stockton when the NBA suspended play for the season. But while we knew they still had some work to do as the early episodes went live, it wasn't clear just how close of a call it was to getting the project finished in time.
After the final two episodes aired on Sunday night, Hehir went on ESPN and revealed that the last episode was finished on Thursday, just a few days earlier. Hehir's full quote:
We had been sitting in a dark edit room for over two years with this material, and seeing especially the earlier episodes -- I think before the quarantine we had four done in totality. So we had seen those over and over and over again. No jokes were funny to us, no moments were new to us, no songs were fresh to us. This one was a little bit different, these two tonight, because we just finished these episodes in the last eight weeks, and indeed episode 10 we just finished on Thursday.
This is pretty remarkable. Everyone's had the experience of running up against a deadline, either due to the magnitude of the work, or simply procrastination. But whether it's a paper for school, or a project for work, once it's turned in you can move on with your life, secure in the knowledge that it's done and over with, and few people are ever going to actually see the end product.
Hehir and his team had not only the customary internal expectations to meet, but also the added external pressure of rushing to finish something that was going to be watched on national TV by millions of people. Perhaps it was fitting, though, that they had to come up clutch with time winding down, just as the documentary's main subject did so many times throughout his career.