TV

A “The Last Dance” Game of Quarters Turns Absurd on “SNL”

With fine performances by Keegan-Michael Key and Heidi Gardner

Keegan-Michael Key played Michael Jordan on "SNL."

By Tobias Carroll

It’s been a little over a year since The Last Dance aired on ESPN, giving viewers a firsthand look at an iconic Chicago Bulls team and sparking a renewed interest in Michael Jordan’s career. The documentary has also become shorthand for a kind of in-depth approach to a specific athlete or team, with other high-profile athletes slated for Last Dance-esque treatments.

Last night’s Saturday Night Live revisited The Last Dance with a sketch that purported to be a deleted scene from the original documentary. Guest host Keegan-Michael Key got to do his best Michael Jordan impression, showing a pre-game game of quarters steadily escalating towards an absurd conclusion.

Key is terrific in the sketch, as are Heidi Gardner and Kenan Thompson. The idea of using Michael Jordan’s competitive streak for comic ends isn’t a new one — Clickhole’s 2015 oral history of the “flu game” remains hilarious — and this sketch helps to explain why. And there’s something about a steadily escalating series of bets that makes for memorable humor.