The entire sports world was glued to ESPN at 9 pm last night for one of the biggest sports documentaries ever. ESPN debuted the “The Last Dance”, the 10-part documentary giving viewers an all-access look into the 97-98 Chicago Bulls season. This was the last season of the Chicago Bulls dynasty, and the last time Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and head coach Phil Jackson would be on the same team. The title of the documentary was titled “The Last Dance” after Phil Jackson told the players it would be their last season together.
ESPN did everyone a huge favor by pushing the release of this documentary up during this crisis that we are all experiencing. “This Last Dance” will air two episodes Sunday nights at 9 pm. After each of the 2 episodes, I will share the three factors that stood out to me the most.
1. Michael Jordan Is A Hard-Working Megastar
Michael Jeffrey Jordan is arguably the greatest basketball player of all time. The Chicago Bulls selected him #3 overall in the 1984 NBA Draft. He completely transformed the team for the better. Jordan won 5 NBA MVP Awards, 6 NBA Finals MVP Awards, 6 NBA Championships, one Defensive Player of the Year Award, 2 Olympic Gold Medals, and 2 Slam Dunk Championships, in 15 seasons in the NBA. Michael Jordan is clearly one of the most decorated players in NBA history and he earned those accolades through superior focus and hard work.
College Career In Carolina
Before playing in the NBA, Jordan played 3 seasons at the University of North Carolina under coach Dean Smith. He led his team to a National Championship victory in 1982 after hitting the game-winning shot in his freshman year. Former UNC assistant coach and current head coach of the men’s UNC basketball team Roy Williams had this to say about Jordan’s tenacity. “Michael Jordan’s the only player that could ever turn it on and off…and he never freaking turned it off.” Williams said. Jordan almost spent another year with UNC, but coach Dean Smith pushed him to go pro.
Jordan Had No Time For Partying
In order to be as great as Michael Jordan was, you have to be focused and disciplined. Jordan shared a story from his rookie season with the Chicago Bulls. He walked in a hotel room where his teammates were, smoking weed, snorting lines of cocaine, and messing with multiple women. There was a serious cocaine problem in the 80’s and the drug testing was not as strict as it is today. When Michael walked in that room and saw those things, he immediately turned around and left. He wanted no parts of that, and did not want to be associated with them if they were to get raided by police. This smart decision was a great example of his focus and common sense.
By the time the 1997 season arrived, Michael Jordan was probably the most famous person walking the planet Earth. When the Chicago Bulls played an exhibition game in France, his fame and popularity was comparable to the Pope. Michael Jordan was God to some people!
In the 1986 Eastern Conference Finals, the Chicago Bulls led by Michael Jordan faced off against the star studded Boston Celtics spear-headed by Larry Bird. Jordan scored 49 points in a Game 1 loss to the Celtics. Celtics guard Danny Ainge and Jordan , played a game of golf before Game 2, in which Jordan lost. Jordan did not take losing lightly. Before they split ways, Jordan told Ainge to tell his teammate Bj Johnson that he’ll have “something” for him tomorrow. Michael Jordan’s competitive spirit propelled him to score 63 points in Game 2 of the series, which set the single game playoff record that still stands to this day. The Bulls did lose that game and eventually lose the series, but Michael Jordan put his stamp on the league. Hall of Famer Larry Bird said “That wasn’t Michael Jordan out there. That was God disguised as Michael Jordan,”.
2. Jerry Krause Was As An Evil Man
Jerry Krause is the man that is part responsible for building the 90’s Chicago Bulls’ dynasty, and also the man responsible for destroying it. He was the general manager of the Chicago Bulls from 1985 to 2003.
Jerry Krause Vs Michael Jordan
Krause was not liked by many in the organization, especially by Michael Jordan. Krause did and said things that rubbed members of the Bulls organization the wrong way. He was once quoted saying: ”Players and coaches don’t win championships; organizations win championships,”. He claims that he was misquoted, but the message is clear. He seemed jealous of all the attention Jordan and his teammates were receiving for winning multiple championships. Jordan clearly took offense to that statement. “For him to say that was offensive to how I approached the game,” Jordan said. Jordan and teammates often poked fun at Krause and called him names. He often made fun of his height and weight, which did not help heal their relationship.
Jerry Krause Vs Phil Jackson
Jerry Krause also had an enemy in Phil Jackson as well. Phil Jackson stated in the documentary that Jerry told him in the beginning of the 97-98 season “I don’t care if you win 82 games straight, this is your last year coaching in Chicago!“. Phil and Krause were at odds over Phil’s salary. He deserved to be the highest paid coach in the NBA. Phil coached the Bulls to 5 championships in 7 seasons. It created a huge rift between the two. Krause invited almost everyone in the Chicago Bulls organization to his wedding except for Phil to send a message.
Jerry Krause passed away in 2017. He was not available for interviews or filming
3. Scottie Pippen Was Extremely Undervalued
Scottie Pippen is one of the greatest two-way players in NBA history. The Seattle Supersonics picked him 5th in the 1987 Draft and traded him on draft night to the Chicago Bulls. He played 11 seasons with the Chicago Bulls in which he was able to win 6 NBA Championships. He was a 7X NBA All-Star, 7X All-NBA team member and a 10X All-Defensive team member. Michael Jordan even recognized Scottie for being the great player and teammate he was. “Everybody said I won all these championships, but I didn’t win without Scottie Pippen and that’s why I considered him my best teammate of all time,”. As great of a player Pippen was, the Chicago Bulls did not pay him well for the services he provided.
Over-Worked, Underpaid, Undervalued
In 1992, GM Jerry Krause offered Pippen a 7-year, $18 million contract after his great performance in 1991 NBA Finals. This is an extremely long contract and a low ball offer, but Scottie accepted the offer. He was the sole provider for his family and he did not want to risk injuring himself. Scottie outplayed that contract but the team would not renegotiate. In 1997, Pippen was ranked first on the Bulls in steals and assists. He was second on the team in points and rebounds, but he was ranked 6th in highest salary on the team. In 1997, he was the 122nd highest paid player in the league making only 2.8 million that season. Michael Jordan was able to renegotiate his deal to earn $33 million per year.
Scottie Has To Look Out For Himself
Scottie Pippen was furious with the Bulls before that 1997 season. He decided to undergo surgery on his ankle in the beginning of the season which would sideline him for majority of the season. He chose to do it at that time to spite Bulls management. “I was like, ‘You know what? I’m not going to f*ck my summer up trying to rehab for a season,” Pippen said. “They’re not going to be looking forward to having me so I’m going to enjoy my summer and I’ll use the season to prepare.”
Michael Jordan did miss Scottie in his absence. The Bulls had a terrible start to that 1997 season. Jordan was not getting the support from his teammates that Scottie provided. Former Chicago Bulls guard Steve Kerr said,“Scottie was so key for us. He tied us together in many ways,” Michael was very frustrated with his teammates. “He’s not worried about hurting your feelings,” former Bulls center, Bill Wennington said. “He would gladly tell you ‘Get out.’ You don’t want to play hard, get out.”
Scottie Pippen Vs Jerry Krause
Jerry Krause tried to trade Scottie on multiple occasions before his contract was up. Scottie took this to heart. “That really what sort of tarnished my relationship with Jerry,” Pippen said. “He tried to make me feel so special but yet he was, like, willing to trade and do all that stuff. But never would tell me to my face.” Scottie was so tired of the disrespect he was receiving and started to verbally attack Krause. Phil Jackson said it got so bad that he would have to step in and stop him.
What was your favorite moment of “The Last Dance”?
Did I miss any points that stuck out to you?
Let us know in the comment section below!
Stay tuned to Hypefresh every Monday for coverage on “The Last Dance”!