Biggest Takeaways From "The Last Dance" Ep. 9-10
All good things must come to an end, and so too does “The Last Dance”. All-in-all it was an entertaining documentary that sports fans needed in this time of quarantine, and here are my takeaways from the last two episodes of one of the most talked about docu-series of all-time.
The Bulls Pushed To The Brink
The Indiana Pacers in 98 were a thorn to the defending champs Chicago Bulls side. While they weren't the Bad Boy Pistons, Jordan still had a hatred for that team to this day. Miller and Jordan had a bit of history, Miller has never felt afraid of MJ, even in his rookie year playing against the Bulls he didn't see the hype surrounding MJ. That’s also when Miller dubbed Jordan as "Black Jesus”.
Pushing the Bulls to a game 7, which only happened twice since their rise to prominence in the early 90's, the Pacers seemed to have the Bulls where they wanted. Chicago looked tired, a big theme in this documentary, and despite having a physical series against a hungry Pacers team, the Bulls still had something left in the tank.
A touching moment more was diving into the relationship Jordan had with his personal security guard Gus, who at the time was battling cancer. Jordan always looked up to Gus as a father figure since the passing of his dad. With Gus in attendance, Jordan gifted him the game ball for the game seven series clincher.
The Jazz Couldn't Get in Tune
The Utah Jazz in the late 90's were one of the best teams the league had to offer. Led by Malone and Stockton, and coached by longtime Bull Jerry Sloan, the Jazz could never get over the hump against Jordan and his band of merry men. The Jazz battled the Bulls in both 97’ and 98’ in the NBA Finals, losing both times, one in part due to an unlikely hero in Steve Kerr. Who hit the game winning the shot, clinching the Bulls 5th title.
In 1998 the Jazz were as good as they ever were, the Bulls beat every team in the league that year besides them. Chicago limped into the finals and Rodman decided it would be a good time to turn heel and throw on an NWO shirt. The Worm was a wild dude.
Anyways, up by 3 points with less than a minute left in game 6 the Jazz looked to be sending this bad boy to a winner take all game 7. Well, Jordan had other plans. In one of the all-time great sequences, Jordan closes the gap to one with an acrobatic layup, he then steals the ball away from Malone on the defensive end, MJ pushes the action up court. With only seconds left, Jordan shakes off Bryon Russell and buries a game clinching shot.
His 45th point in game 6 of the 1998 Finals delivered the Bulls a 6th title, and it was also his last as a Bull.
The Flu Game?
For years Game 5 against the Utah Jazz in the 97 finals has been known as the "Flu Game", but now we finally have the true story behind MJ’s illness on that treasured day in sports lore.
Hungry the night before, MJ was hanging out with his entourage in a hotel room. There weren't many food places opening late at night, and there was no room service. So MJ decided he wanted to get pizza. It seemed sketchy that only one pizza place was open but they ordered it. Five guys showed up to deliver the pizza, just like a scene out of a mob movie. Super sketch.
MJ stayed up the whole night yakking his brain out. The “Flu Game” stays but ultimately it should be called the “Food Poisoning Game”. Jordan dominated regardless because that man is not human.
The Last Dance
For years we’ve all wondered the true reason behind Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf disbanding the Bulls dynasty and now we finally got our answer. Jerry felt that the players wouldn't get their market value if they kept their players. After winning their third straight championship, many of the players' stocks were through the roof. Reinsdorf felt it was a disservice to keep the players knowing they would get more money if they choose to play elsewhere.
Jordan didn't agree and you can't blame him. He felt that if the Bulls were willing to keep their players just on one year contracts to try and go for a 4 peat that everybody would come back for one more kick at the can.
We also found out Phil Jackson was asked to come back for another year despite all the turmoil he and Krause had gone through. However, Jackson didn't feel comfortable coming back, and also didn't want to go through a rebuilding phase.
To this day it seems Jordan still has a hard time accepting the decision. The Bulls front office didn't give their players a chance to go for the 4 peat despite the confidence of their all-world player. Fans will always wonder whether or not the Bulls could have gone for another championship run, Jordan knew he was better than ever in 98’ and to this day it still drives him crazy on how his career ended in Chicago.