Ralph Sampson discusses playing Michael Jordan and The Last Dance

Ralph Sampson rises for a dunk during his college days at UVA.
Ralph Sampson rises for a dunk during his college days at UVA.(WHSV)
Published: May. 3, 2020 at 5:29 PM EDT
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The past few Sunday nights, sports fans have had their eyes glued to ESPN, watching the ten-part documentary series on Michael Jordan, The Last Dance.

As a national college basketball superstar at Virginia in the early 1980s, Ralph Sampson played against a young Michael Jordan and many other stars.

"In college you're playing against Gene Banks, and Albert King, Buck Williams, Al Woods and every team had an NBA player," Sampson said on Sunday. "You had that, so you didn't worry about Michael Jordan back then because every night you'd get your tail beat if you weren't ready to play."

Sampson says that he saw flashes of Jordan's greatness when playing against him in college and that The Last Dance traces his success after that.

"Now it's just the evolution of the legend right, so we saw him in college and the memories of him playing in Chapel Hill against us where he stole the ball in the middle of the court and went down and dunked it," Sampson said. "One of his iconic dunks, and you saw flashes of greatness there."

At a tough time for sports fans, the Michael Jordan documentary fills a gap and provides important perspective for sports fans of all ages.

"For basketball fans in general to at least have the opportunity and especially at this day in time when people are dealing with this virus for people to have something to look back upon and remember," Sampson said. "It's out at a good time where it gives people the opportunity to look at some sports that we don't have on air right now to look back and say okay great but also have the younger generation see how it evolved from a Michael Jordan to a Kobe Bryant to a LeBron James."

While Sampson thinks Jordan's career is a good one to feature, he'd like to see documentaries that focus on players that stars like him and Jordan grew up idolizing.

"They even gotta go deeper than that, they should look back at the Julius Ervings and the Elgin Baylors as well because it all started with those guys. Michael just evolved and took it to a different level," Sampson said.

The Last Dance documentary series will continue airing two new episodes each Sunday at 9 p.m. on ESPN. The final two segments will air on Sunday, May 17.