Biggest Takeaways From "The Last Dance" Ep. 5-6
Source: AP Photo/Ralf-Finn Hestoft
The Last Dance episodes 5 and 6 looked into various parts of Jordan's career including the 92' Dream Team and how the superstar of the NBA Michael Jordan took over the world globally, his first 3-peat, and the growing concerns around his gambling problems.
The Dream Team
The greatest team to ever be assembled in basketball history, the 92’ Olympics in Barcelona was the first time that NBA players took part in the festivities. With names like Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson leading the way, the team was chalked full of HOF talent. However, one great that wasn't on the team was Isaiah Thomas. Many felt Thomas would hurt the team's chemistry, and to this day, Thomas still feels bitter about being left off.
The Dream team clobbered the competition. Though underlining stories included a legendary scrimmage led by Magic and Jordan, Pippen’s hatred for Toni Kukoc, and MJ’s refusal to rep the Reebok logo. Of course all of that fell by the wayside as nobody could touch the Dream Team, and winning his 2nd Gold Medal cemented Jordan as not just an American icon, but a global icon as well.
The Jordan Brand
Basketball shoes before Jordan’s didn't have the cultural impact like they do in today's world. Converse was the face of the NBA, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Dr. J were the main faces of the brand, but Converse couldn't convince Jordan to join them because he didn't think he would fit in with his star-studded counterparts.
Jordan's agent, David Falk, instead wanted Jordan to take a shot with Nike. Jordan didn't like the idea at first and wanted to go to Adidas but the company couldn't get Jordan a signature shoe at the moment. Despite being reluctant to go to Nike headquarters, MJ decided to go thanks to the input of his parents.
Needless to say it proved to be a booming success, and with Jordan's on court success and a Spike Lee's crossover, the Jordan brand was cemented in basketball culture. To this day the Jordan brand is still one of the biggest shoe brands in the world.
MJ's Obsession with Competition
Michael Jordan loves to compete, we know how obsessed he is to win, we’ve heard countless stories to prove that and these episodes bring into a new light. Magic Johnson said "Jordan didn't want to just beat you, he wanted to crush you." it's the mentality MJ possesses. He hates losing more than the regular guy. If you beat Jordan in cards or golf, you had to play until he beat you.
What also came out were concerns of Jordan's problem with gambling. He and his Father went to Atlantic City on the eve of game 2 and the media never let Jordan forget it. Some of the people Jordan was associated with his golf gamblings, were in trouble with the law, while owing huge debts to others resulting in multiple books being written about his gambling ventures.
Jordan said in an interview in the Last dance that he can stop gambling and doesn't acknowledge it as a problem. The "competitive problem" is what made MJ one of the best of all time.
Jordan's Legacy Isn't Spotless
"Republicans buy Nike's too”, it’s a famous statement, which Jordan says was made in gest, and Sam Smith, publisher of the quote admitted to as well, but at the time it led many to believe that Mj’s pockets were more important than his community. This all stemmed from the lack of support given to Harvey Gantt, who was vying to be the first African-American to be elected to NC's senate, and was up against alleged racist Jesse Helms.
Helms would take the senate and beat out Gantt which left many feeling Jordan, given his status, should have used his voice more in certain situations on social issues. Jordan said in the sixth episode that he wished he wasn't considered as a role model, but nonetheless his reputation off the court after the 92-93 season seemed to take a hit.
Behind closed doors Jordan looked less than perfect, being a teammate to Jordan sounded like a nightmare, accusations of gambling debts, gambling addiction, his sourness with the media. Jordan was indeed not perfect. Charles Barkley said it perfectly "I'm not a role model... Just because I dunk a basketball doesn't mean I should raise your kids".