On Sunday, the ten-part ESPN documentary series on NBA legend Michael Jordan titled “The Last Dance” aired the first two episodes. The series took an in-depth look at the drama throughout Jordan’s life as well as the tension around the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls team.
Growing up in the Lebron era, I didn’t know much about Jordan’s life besides how good he was on the court. Before watching the first two episodes, I didn’t know what he dealt with growing up or how different he was from his peers. Episodes one and two of the series focused a lot on Jordan’s upbringing. It was said that his brother was better than Michael at basketball growing up, and his dad favored his brother.
When he got to high school, he was not good enough to make the basketball team. His mom then told him the summer after his sophomore year to get to work. Jordan not only worked hard, but he grew four inches. His coaches talked about how soon after that summer he stood out and immediately became a star.
After his junior season in high school, Jordan was invited to a University of North Carolina basketball camp. Here, Assistant Coach Roy Williams said Jordan was the best player he had seen. Not only was Jordan great at basketball, but he worked harder than anyone else and was one of the smartest guys on the court at all times.
While in his freshman year of college, Jordan hit the game-winning shot against Georgetown in the National Championship. Soon after that, he was drafted third overall by the Chicago Bulls. All Jordan wanted to do was play basketball, unlike what most of his teammates were doing at the time — the Bulls were known as the “traveling cocaine circus.”
The documentary then seemed to shift its focus from Jordan’s playing for the Bulls, to the relationships he had with many people on the team. It showed the differing view of owner Jerry Reinsdorf and General Manager Jerry Krause but also how tremendous Scottie Pippen was.
After the 1997 NBA Finals, where the Chicago Bulls won their fifth title, Krause wanted to blow the whole team up and rebuild. Many people including Reinsdorf disagreed, saying the core group of Jordan, Pippen, and Dennis Rodman deserve one more shot. Pippen, who had suffered an injury, held out on getting surgery until after the season started. Pippen was one of the best players in the NBA but was payed like a role player coming off the bench. Jordan kept saying how important and key Pippen was to the success of the Bulls.
The first two episodes showed me two main things. The first is that Jordan wanted to win so badly and would work harder than anyone to do it. He had a very similar mentality to Kobe Bryant in that he wouldn’t let anything get in his way of being the absolute best. The second is that Jordan knew he needed Pippen to win, and it was amazing to see how impactful Pippen was to Jordan’s success.
If you are trying to watch the next eight episodes of the series, the next two come out on Sunday Apr. 26, and the episodes are being released weekly on Netflix.