• Keith Walsh

The Last Dance Episodes 1-2

Finally! After we bullied ESPN into moving up the start date of the Michael Jordan documentary it's finally here. Tonight we got to see the first two episodes of the series and it was great. Michael Jordan may be the greatest basketball player of all time and we are finally getting an inside look at the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls. One of the greatest teams of all time and we get to see behind the scenes footage we thought we'd never see. Five titles in seven years...incredible, easily the best run in history. Going for their 2nd three-peat and the biggest question was whether or not all the superstars would be back for the season. Episode 1 gives us a look at how the downfall started and key factors that played into what would be "The Last Dance" for this incredible Bulls team. Now, going into this I only knew how dominate the Bulls were and how great Jordan, Pippen, Rodman, and Phil Jackson were together. It was only the first two episodes but I learned so much about this entire run they had and how it all started. After the first couple of minutes my first thought was Jerry Krause is an absolute moron. How in the hell do you go out and blatantly tell the coach that has won you 5 championships that the contract he just signed was going to be his last as the Bulls coach. Krause should have been fired right after he made that public statement about Phil Jackson.

Next up we got to see a little bit into Michael Jordans college career at North Carolina. Man I would of loved to have been able to watch this man tear up the NCAA. Him hitting the game winning shot in the National Championship game as a freshman after not being considered all that great at the beginning of the season is stuff you can't script. Then going on for him to dominate for the next two years before announcing he would enter the draft in 1984. Looking back now its insane that he went 3rd overall in that draft. Obviously, nobody could have predicted the type of career Michael Jordan would have but still its crazy to me.

After leading team USA to a gold medal at the summer Olympics, Jordan entered his first NBA season. It took three fames for MJ to show that he was the real deal in the NBA as he would lead the Bulls to a come from behind win over the Milwaukee Bucks. From there it would be the start of what would be a legendary career. That first year he singlehandedly made the Bulls relevant again and would win Rookie of the year.

We flash forward back to October of 1997 and the Bulls in Pairs for an exhibition game. Jordan was without his running mates Pippen and Rodman for the game and once again he proved that he was the superstar. It was hilarious Jordan telling his teammates that the championship they won that game didn't count and then continuing to say "Don't let Jerry get it." Jordan HATED his GM and he didn't care who knew, I gotta say I respect it considering that his GM was about to ruin a dynasty team. I also loved MJ absolutely shitting on Krause every time he could. The Bulls also had the greatest introduction ever I mean if it didn't pump you up you have to check your pulse. I was ready to run through a brick wall and that is how we ended episode 1...

Episode 2 starts with just how disrespected Scottie Pippen was. I mean this dude had to have been the most underrated player in the NBA at that time and deserved to be compensated for helping bring the Bulls those titles. Jordan said it himself that he considers Pippen his best teammate of all time and that he wouldn't have won without him. To this day I don't think Pippen gets the recognition he deserves and I think its time we start putting some more respect on his name. It is wild how much he was underpaid to be a top five player in the league. Now granted he did it for the right reasons as he wanted to make sure his family was taken care of so you have to respect him for taking the long term deal to make sure he could help his family. Again we see just how bad Jerry Krause was as he refused to restructure Pippen's contract and I can't blame Pippen for taking his time and waiting for the beginning of the season to get surgery on his injury. Could he have handled it better? Yes of course he could have but how would you feel being undervalued after helping win that many championships.

After getting a look into Pippen and his horrible contract we flash back to MJ's childhood and hear a little about him getting cut from the high school team. Watching this has been awesome so far as it has been fascinating getting an in depth look into Michael Jordan's life. Then we flash forward again to Jordan's 2nd NBA season which would only last 3 games before getting hurt and missing 64 games. Now we are seeing just how competitive MJ really was as he couldn't stand being on the bench with an injury and decided to go behind the Bulls back and headed to UNC to start playing basketball and working on getting back when they didn't want him to. The best line Jordan had here was when they told him if he had a headache and was given a bottle of 10 pills and 9 of them would kill him and 1 would cure him would he take a pill. Jordan's response was "Depends on how fucking bad the headache is." Dude literally only cared about winning and we don't see many athletes like that nowadays. Then when they finally allow him to come back only to have him on a 14 minute restriction was insane especially in the middle of a playoff run. The look on Jordans face in the one game they take him out and he's on the bench looking like he's ready to kill someone was insane. I'm shocked he didn't get off the bench and grab the dude coming in for him and throw him back on the bench. Jordan's competitive nature is something I don't think we have ever seen and will probably never see ever again I mean he was just an entirely different breed. He comes back to lead a losing team into the playoffs for the 2nd straight year.

Jordan does all this work to get the Bulls to the Playoffs and was rewarded with having to face the Boston Celtics in the first round of the 1986 playoffs . They would lose game 1 even with Jordan putting up 49 points...Then after golfing with Danny Ainge before game 2, Jordan would have one of the greatest games of his career as he put up 63 points but the Bulls still lost. It blows my mind that this man was doing just about everything he could to help lead this trash team he was on. He mine as well have just played 1 on 5 it probably still would have been just as close of a game. It's impossible for a person to win a championship by themselves and it was time for the Bulls to get MJ some help. After getting swept by the Celtics the Bulls would add some key pieces for the next few years that would help start the dynasty. We flash forward back to 1997-98 and we get to hear more about how Krause was trying to deal away Scottie Pippen while he was still rehabbing. It's super interesting hearing Pippen's side of how he wanted out of Chicago after Krause had been trying to trade him. As this episode ended I gotta say im still on his side for how he handled the situation but that may change after next weeks episodes we shall see.

I'm jealous of all the people that got to witness how great this Michael Jordan truly was and seeing all of these highlights now my opinion on him being the greatest of all time stays the same as I don't think there is anyone better than him. So yes MJ>Lebron still...But thats a different debate for another post.

The first two episodes of this documentary have been everything I hoped they would be and I can't wait for next Sunday. It feels great finally having something sports related to look forward to with all this dumb COVID-19 stuff still going on. Check back next week for my recap of episodes 3-4 and make sure you check this documentary out on ESPN.


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