With no games to watch, no close calls to question and no highlights to fuel Twitter’s penchant for meme-generating, the Sunday night premiere of “The Last Dance” was a welcome sight not only for sports fans, but also plenty of NBA players stuck at home with the season suspended.
The first two episodes of ESPN’s 10-part documentary series lived up to expectations, comfortably bouncing back and forth between the start of the Bulls’ 1997-98 season and the individual stories of how Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen came to be two of the NBA’s biggest stars. While promotions for the project presented it as an examination of the final year of Chicago’s dynasty, it’s clear “The Last Dance” has bigger ambitions, and the level of depth will only make the weekly watch more satisfying.
Given the world’s current predicament, why not dissect the documentary like a major sporting event? Let’s break down the best moments, quotes and more from Episodes 1 and 2 of “The Last Dance.”
Best sincere Jordan interview moment: Jordan considers Pippen his “best teammate of all time,” even if he wasn’t paid like it. (More on that later).
It was nice to see someone as insanely competitive as Jordan acknowledge one of the best No. 2 options in league history. MJ understandably hogged the spotlight during his time with the Bulls, but those two three-peats don’t happen without Pippen’s immense contributions.
“Whenever they speak Michael Jordan, they should speak Scottie Pippen,” Jordan said.
“Whenever they speak Michael Jordan, they should speak Scottie Pippen. When everybody says, well, I won all these championships- but I didn’t win without Scottie Pippen. And that’s why I consider him my best teammate of all-time.” -Michael Jordan #TheLastDance pic.twitter.com/Dazc83A4xs
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) April 20, 2020
Best ridiculous Jordan interview moment: His reaction to the Bulls being known as a “traveling cocaine circus” during his rookie year …
Jordan didn’t call out any of his former teammates, but he did describe one particular moment at a hotel that opened his eyes:
“I walk in and practically the whole team was in there. And it was like, things I’ve never seen in my life, you know, as a young kid,” Jordan said. “You got your lines over here, you got your weed smokers over here, you got your women over here. So the first thing I said, ‘Look man, I’m out.’
“Because all I can think about is, if they come and raid this place, right about now, I am just as guilty as everyone else that’s in this room. And from that point on, I was more or less on my own.”
Good call, buddy.
Best Jordan highlight: How can you beat a triple between-the-legs and smooth jumper on Larry Bird? The Celtics may have swept the Bulls in the first round of the 1986 NBA playoffs, but Jordan offered an early glimpse of his greatness with 63 points in Game 2.
“That wasn’t Michael Jordan out there,” Bird said. “That was God disguised as Michael Jordan.”
Best quote: Plenty of candidates here, but this delivery from James Worthy, who played with Jordan at North Carolina, is impeccable.
“I was better than he was — for about two weeks.”
That youngster turned out pretty good, huh?
Most cringeworthy moment: Basically anything about former Bulls general manager Jerry Krause.
The man was far from perfect. Krause struggled to connect with his players. He seemed obsessed with receiving credit. He threw reporters wild quotes without a second thought. He was looking forward to a rebuild while he had Michael Freaking Jordan on his team.
And yet, Krause consistently built a contender around Jordan and executed multiple smart transactions in order to improve the team. His inability to share his side of the story in the documentary series — he died in 2017 at age 77 — created some uncomfortable situations.
The verbal punishment Jordan and Pippen aimed at Krause often appeared to cross the line from playful jabs to personal insults.
Aside from Krause, an honorable mention goes to this guy asking Jordan for an autograph. MJ’s face … yikes.
Best description of a former president: Wow, the producers got Barack Obama. Hold on a second. What does that say?
FORMER CHICAGO RESIDENT.
Random but important fact: Pippen was the 122nd-highest-paid player in the NBA during the 1997-98 season. He was sixth on his own team in salary despite leading the team in assists and steals.
Pippen agreed to an $18 million extension in 1991 that kept him extremely underpaid through Chicago’s final championship run. Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf flat out said it wasn’t a smart deal for Pippen because it locked him in for too many years. Pippen had to worry about taking care of himself and his family, so he accepted the money on the table.
His financial status never matched his on-court production, and that rankled Pippen, to put it lightly. His frustration with the front office drove him to delay undergoing surgery to fix an ankle issue that had been bothering him since the previous season’s playoffs.
Why not just schedule surgery during the summer? Well. …
Episode 2 ends with Pippen’s trade demand, and though viewers already know he wasn’t shipped out, it will be fascinating to see how the seven-time All-Star was brought back into the locker room.
What we want to see next: Episodes 3 and 4 will cover the Bulls-Pistons rivalry. Just give Jordan the floor and allow him to talk about the “Bad Boys” teams and how much he hated them.
Additionally, expect plenty of discussion about Dennis Rodman, who saw both sides of that rivalry and could provide some of the most interesting content of the entire series.
What was it like being Rodman’s teammate on a daily basis? What was his relationship with Jordan? How many times did he disappear without explanation during the season? What was his hair-dyeing process?
Published at Mon, 20 Apr 2020 13:34:29 +0000