It’s time for the weekly recap of the latest episodes of “The Last Dance” which is currently the only two hours of live television I consume before this upcoming UFC 249 card which will be previewed on Talkin Hands later this week. This weeks episodes kicked off where the previous ended by going over the Bulls run on their initial three-peat and some more backstory on the Dream Team. Here’s a hint, Michael still hates Isiah Thomas and it was evidenced even more so over the course of the first hour. However, prior to going over the 1992 season and subsequent Dream Team run, there was a nice little section devoted to Kobe Bryant. As the camera crew was following Michael during the 1997-1998 season, they obviously were with him during the All Star game in Madison Square Garden in 1998 which was Kobe’s first time being an All Star. There was some funny banter amongst Shawn Kemp and Michael Jordan who proclaimed that they wouldn’t pass that young kid the ball until he got a rebound amongst other things. As you know, the East won the game and Jordan was the All-Star MVP and let Kobe know to reach out to him whenever he needed to the point where Kobe is quoted as saying, “I don’t win 5 championships without Michael” which was a nice touching moment.
The crux of this week’s show was Michael’s growing celebrity and how everyone wanted to “Be Like Mike”
Not only did people want to be like Mike on the court, they wanted to be like him off it as well which included quite a lucrative shoe deal that was unprecedented at the time when he was given 250K by Nike in hopes of selling 3 million shoes in his first 3 years. He eclipsed that by selling 126 million pairs in his rookie year and since Jordan’s have been a staple of many people’s wardrobe. The episode then turned to the Dream Team and Michael and Scottie’s rivalry with Toni Kukoc via Jerry Krause. In the episode, Jordan had such a competitive nature that when Jerry Krause would consider bringing in free agents or other players would be compared to him on the basketball court, he would make it his purpose to seek and destroy anyone that stood in front of him. This was discussed in a practice where Magic Johnson in a case of pure idiocy decreed that “We gonna blow you guys out if you don’t turn to Air Jordan.” You can surmise what happened next as Jordan led his team to the victory and continued on leading the USA to Gold Medal.
Perhaps the most surprising part of this weeks documentary was Jordan’s history of gambling. It was somewhat public knowledge even when I was a child that Jordan was a gambler and as Will Perdue says, “He wanted to make sure he took your money.” Funny story about that, I have a friend who caddied for Michael Jordan and Toni Kukoc back in the day, I want to say 2002 or so and Kukoc tipped him 100 dollars, Michael gave him 5 bucks. That’s right kids, be like Mike. As the episode progressed, we see the Bulls roll the Blazers and Jordan hits his iconic shrug to win in 6 and then came what was labelled the sternest test of the Bulls championship teams in the New York Knicks.
The Bulls go down 0-2 to the Knicks and Jordan is blamed for being at a casino the night prior to game 2 for the team losing the game. If there is one thing that has to be known is you don’t piss Michael Jordan off. The Bulls end up winning 4 straight en route to the NBA Finals where they meet a formidable Phoenix Suns squad. Phoenix was led by Charles Barkley who was the reigning MVP and were thought to be a difficult out for the Bulls. Chicago takes 2 in Phoenix than drops a game back home before winning game 4 to take a commanding 3-1 series lead which is usually curtains for a team up against Jordan. Through sheer willpower, the Suns take game 5 and get 2 games back home in Phoenix to try and win the championship. In the words of Lee Corso, not so fast my friend as John Paxson hits the dagger 3 and secures the 3-peat for the Bulls.
Unfortunately things weren’t as rosy as they appeared on the court as Michael seemed to be burning out physically and mentally as his celebrity grew. I’m sure the next two episodes will delve deeper in to that and why he took the 1994 and majority of the 1995 season off before the last 3-peat run with Chicago.
As always, keep tuned in to Pub Sports Radio on all forms of social media as they continue to give you great content and make sure you get down to Southtown 101 Bar and Grill if you are in the San Antonio area to get a slice of Fiesta before it’s gone.