Ep. 5 & 6 of “The Last Dance”
The Last Dance is a 10 episode documentary series that focuses on Michael Jordan and the legendary 1997-98 Chicago Bulls. The series takes an in-depth look at that year’s team as well as Jordan’s rise to stardom.
Each episode in the series covers a decent amount of content, so to help recap these last two episodes I have created a list of my biggest takeaways from episodes 5 and 6 of The Last Dance.
(Check out this previous HypeFresh article the recapped the highlights of Ep. 1 & 2)
Biggest Takeaways from Ep. 5
5. MJ Was Like a Big Brother to Kobe
The fifth episode of the series opens with a dedication to Kobe Bryant. It goes to show how close the two really were. Jordan was quick to take note of Bryant’s skill after he entered the league. Bryant recalls how much great advice MJ gave him over the years. Kobe even went so far as to say that he wouldn’t have won all those rings without Jordan’s guidance.
4. MJ Wanted to Sign with Adidas over Nike
At first, he had zero interest in Nike and much preferred Adidas. MJ wasn’t even considering attending the meeting with Nike until his parents convinced him to see what they had to offer. Unlike Adidas, Nike was able to offer Jordan his own shoe and showed a large interest in investing in him as their future.
As everyone knows this turned out great for Nike and Jordan. The Air Jordans switched basketball shoes from just being used to play in and made them a part of fashion/culture. Within the first year alone the Air Jordan 1 was able to bring in $126 million.
3. Winning a 2nd Championship in 1992 Was a Big Deal
Winning the first championship in 1991 was impressive, but to really establish themselves as a force to be reckoned with they had to repeat things in 1992. The Chicago Bulls met the Portland Trail Blazers in the finals. Drexler claimed him and MJ were the best players in the league.
Jordan acknowledges Drexler’s skill but still took offense to this. Just like usual when Jordan feels slighted he is able to go off. He had a great showing that ended with the Bulls winning the series 4-2.
2. Jordan Becomes the Most Famous Man on Earth
The 1992 Olympics were the first time that NBA players would be competing. This led to the Dream Team assembling, having some of the best players of all time on the same roster. Even with players like Magic Johnson and Larry Bird on the squad, MJ was able to establish himself as the face of the team.
The Dream Team both put MJ and the NBA on a global level that it hadn’t experienced before. Jordan went from being known all throughout America to being possibly the most famous person in the world at the time.
1. Fame Has its Costs
Throughout the 90s Jordan gained a wild level of stardom. But fame has its costs. People are quick to embrace celebrities until they get controversial. Apparently, for Jordan, this was not being political enough.
In 1990 there was a heated race for senate in NC between Jesse Helms and Harvey Gannt. Helms was a racist asshole, whereas Gant would’ve been the first black senate from the state. People looked to Jordan to show his support for Gannt. MJ never publically did so, which led to backlash. Certain people felt that it was MJ’s responsibility to get political.
It would’ve been great to see Jordan step up as Muhammad Ali did. But when it comes down to it athletes really have no requirement to do so. MJ is a human being just like everyone else, so he can make his own decisions. You might not agree with what he does, but it’s his God-given right to do so.
Biggest Takeaways from Ep. 6
5. Jordan was Competitive in Everything
Jordan’s competitive edge is the stuff of legend. Before there was the Mamba mentality of winning, there was Jordan. This episode shows just how much MJ loved winning, not just in basketball, but in life in general.
He can be seen making bets with his security, other teammates when traveling to games, and even on the golf course. A former teammate recalls Jordan asking to play in their low stakes poker game. When asked why MJ responded that he wanted to take everyone’s money on the bus.
4. The Public Begins Taking Shots at MJ
The public works in a funny way. They love taking people and putting them on a pedal stool. But the problem with this is that it creates an unrealistic standard to live up to. After winning his second chip in 1992, a book was released titled The Jordan Rules by Sam Smith. The book brings to light stories that showed Jordan wasn’t perfect.
This includes tensions within the Bulls organization, as well as Jordan being hard on his teammates. This wasn’t the only book released that attempted to slander his name. MJ loved playing golf, and one of the people he did so with was Richard Esquinas.
3. People Question His Gambling Habit
Richard Esquinas went to release a book titled Michael & Me in 1993, that discussed their gambling habits. People love to find anything negative about massive stars like Jordan, so this only added fuel to the fire.
During the Eastern Conference Finals of 1993, Jordan’s gambling habits were further brought into the light. After tough losses in the first two games, MJ was seen gambling in Atlantic City. The media had a heyday and began roasting Jordan for a lack of focus. When in reality he was probably just blowing off some steam. In typical fashion, Jordan responded with a stellar level of play winning the next four games of the series.
2. The Bulls Win a Three-Peat in 1993
Winning a championship in 1993 was a major deal for Jordan and the Bulls. This would take Jordan from being a great player to being on the Mount Rushmore of basketball. After defeating the Knicks in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Phoenix Suns were up next.
The Suns had the best regular-season record that year and were led by the leagues MVP Charles Barkley. The series was a bit of a roller coaster, having Game 3 go into triple overtime, and the final game being decided only by one point.
You would think that Michael would be the happiest person on earth after accomplishing this feat. But it would seem that a feeling of relief was also majorly present. After so many years of hard work and all the pressure the public/ he put on himself, he was simply relieved that it was finally done, at least for a little.
1. Jordan Was Ready to Retire
A major theme present throughout this episode is the fact that being like Mike wasn’t as fun as you might think. This includes him never really having any time to himself, always being critiqued by everyone, and attempting to live up to the image that was created around him.
Jordan’s skills in basketball were out of this world, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a human being like everyone else. I commend Jordan for the way that he was able to handle that immense amount of fame. The episode ends and opens with Jordan speaking of growing tired of his life in the league and all that is brought with it.
The Last Dance is a fantastic watch. Even if you don’t love sports, you are sure to be entertained. It’s really quite interesting to gain insight into the interworkings of the legendary 90s Chicago Bulls, as well as the life of MJ.
Tune into ESPN this upcoming Sunday to check out Ep. 7 & 8 of the documentary, where they discuss Jordan’s decision to retire for the first time.
What do you guys think though?
Are you loving this series just as much as I am? What were some of your biggest takeaways from these episodes? And do you actually want to be like Mike?