The highly anticipated documentary The Last Dance was released on ESPN last night . The documentary showcased the life of the legendary basketball player Michael Jordan and the final run of the Bulls dynasty during the 1997-98 season . Jordan and the Bulls allowed NBA Entertainment to follow them throughout the season and document their final championship together. The series features never-before-seen footage, as well as interviews with more than 100 people close to the team.
Episodes 1 and 2 of the documentary discussed the behind the scenes of the 1997-98 series which was called the last dance by head coach Phil Jackson because it was the last season for the team as it was . It featured the conflict between general manager Jerry Krause, and Scottie Pippen’s contract along with Michael Jordan rise.
For the 3rd and 4th episodes the focus was about the “badboy ” Pistons as a rival competitive team along with Dennis Rodman
Episodes 5 and 6 featured the late Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan the sneaker brand ,New York Knicks, Michael’s rumored gambling addiction .
Episode 5 started with Kobe Bryant started with the message “In Loving Memory and showed a behind-the-scenes of the 1998 All-Star Game. The Last Dance began its fifth episode by detailing the relationship between Jordan and a young Bryant, who at the age of 19 was already on his way to NBA stardom. In an interview filmed before his death, Bryant said Jordan was instrumental in the success he would go on to have in the league. “What you get from me, is from him,” Bryant said. “I won’t get five championships here without him.” Bryant opened up about the chance to go one-on-one with Jordan and how much it meant to him .
"That little Laker boy's gonna take everybody one-on-one."
— ESPN (@espn) May 4, 2020
“I had a question about [MJ’s] turn-around shot so I asked him about it….He gave me a great detailed answer and on top of that he said if you need anything give me a call. It’s like my big brother.” Kobe Bryant
Bryant said Jordan was instrumental in the success he would go on to have in the league. “What you get from me, is from him,” Bryant said. “I won’t get five championships here without him.” Bryant opened up about the chance to go one-on-one with Jordan and how much it meant to him .
— ESPN (@espn) May 4, 2020
— STAR (@morningstardj) May 4, 2020
The audience got a look into the beginning and start of Nike’s Air Jordans. Jordan’s manager David Falk shares that Nike wasn’t really Jordan’s first choice. It was either Converse, which was the NBA’s official shoe partner, or Adidas. When it didn’t work with both companies, Jordan reluctantly sat in a meeting with Nike after been encouraged by his parents. What followed was the creation of the signature Nike Air Jordans that is a cult-classic to date.
Sunday’s episodes explored Jordan’s path to becoming a worldwide icon through branding deals and commercials. While the iconic Air Jordan logo that came from his partnership with Nike is his most well-known endorsement, he made deals with Gatorade, Wheaties, Hanes, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and much more.
The final result is a net worth of $2.1 billion even nearly 20 years after he retired from the NBA for the last time, per Forbes.
While Jordan originally wanted to sign with Adidas, agent David Falk explained in The Last Dance he wanted his client to sign with Nike because it was the upstart company. Falk convinced Jordan’s mother to talk the star into visiting Nike’s campus, and the result was the most famous shoe partnership basketball has ever seen.
Interviews with Nas and Justin Timberlake delved into how important having Air Jordan shoes are for the culture even today, and Jordan himself recognized the symbolism when he wore a pair of original Air Jordans in his final game at Madison Square Garden in the 1997-98 campaign.
“By halftime, my feet are bleeding, but I’m having a good game and don’t want to take them off,” he said. “When I took my shoes off, my sock was soaked in blood.”
Adidas hearing MJ wanted to sign with them over Nike pic.twitter.com/kAbrJsxpto
— Out of Bounds (@SI_outofbounds) May 4, 2020
The Dream Team
Sunday’s documentary focused on three things with the Dream Team at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona : the rumors Jordan said Isiah Thomas couldn’t be on the team, the famous beef between MJ’s team and Magic Johnson’s team and Jordan and Pippen going against Toni Kukoc on the Croatian team.
Jordan was so competitive he wouldn’t let his Reebok logo be seen in the Olympics
Michael Jordan was earning about $30 million a year in endorsements during the early 1990s. Nike was a major reason why. His decision to block the Reebok logo showed his brand loyalty–and his loyalty to those who paid him. #TheLastDance
— Michael McCann (@McCannSportsLaw) May 4, 2020
— Diego💫🔥 (@diego_puente00) May 4, 2020
— Pat McAfee Show Quotes (@PatMcAfeequotes) May 4, 2020
“You want to attribute it to me, go ahead and be my guest,” Jordan said of Thomas not being chosen on the team. “But it wasn’t me.”
The episode made it clear Johnson, Larry Bird and Scottie Pippen also had a problem with Thomas, who was interviewed for The Last Dance and said, “I met the criteria to be selected, but I wasn’t.”
Magic and Charles Barkley led their team to a significant lead out of the gates against Jordan’s side before they started talking trash. That was a mistake, as Air Jordan went into takeover mode and was s admired as one the best players in the world on a team filled with the best ballers.
— Team USA (@TeamUSA) May 4, 2020
Kukoc was the best player on the Croatian team, and the documentary showed Bulls general manager Jerry Krause negotiating with him even though Scottie Pippen wanted a new contract. Kukoc was interviewed and said he had no idea about the tension or what was coming, but Jordan told the United States’ locker room to leave the opponent’s leader to him and Pippen.
“He may not even think about coming to the NBA after playing against us,” Pippen said after holding Kukoc to four points. “We were going to do everything we could to make Jerry look bad.”
Jordan was impressed, though, when Kukoc showed his toughness by coming back and playing much better in the gold-medal game.
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) May 4, 2020
The DREAM TEAM went undefeated, winning by an average of 44 points without ever calling a single timeout!
Puerto Rico: 38
Croatia: 33 (Gold Medal Game)#TheLastDance
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) May 4, 2020
The Jordan Rules
Sam Smith’s book, The Jordan Rules, exposed the tension he faced with teammates at times.
From punching Will Perdue during practice to riding those teammates incredibly hard to promising he would eventually get Krause fired, the book pulled back the curtain on some of the Jordan mythology.
In recent interviews for the documentary, Jordan said he believed Horace Grant was the one telling the press what was happening in the locker room. Grant was adamant it wasn’t him, saying his close relationship with Smith turned him into a “scapegoat.”
There was no agreed-upon conclusion, but B.J. Armstrong explained there was no way it was just Grant who talked to Smith.
“Republicans Buy Sneakers Too”
Sunday’s broadcast explored his infamous quote: “Republicans buy sneakers too,” said when he decided against campaigning for Democratic nominee Harvey Gantt in the 1990 United States Senate election in North Carolina against Republican incumbent Jesse Helms.
“I never thought of myself as an activist,” Jordan said. “I thought of myself as a basketball player … Was that selfish? Probably. But that was my energy.”
Then there was that business with Harvey Gantt, a Democrat who looked to dislodge Republican Jesse Helms in his journey to becoming the state’s first black senator. “My mother asked me to do a PSA about Harvey Gantt,” Jordan explained. “I said, ‘Look, mom, I’m not speaking out of pocket about something I don’t know, but I will send a contribution to support him’.”
As it panned out, Gantt lost the election, but there was this one line from Jordan “Republicans buy sneakers too” that saw him land flush in the attention of the critics.
BARACK OBAMA, throws some subtle shade at MICHAEL JORDAN over his unwillingness to endorse HARVEY GANTT in his 1990 challenge to JESSE HELMS. pic.twitter.com/X2m8yAzgkh
— Kenneth P. Vogel (@kenvogel) May 4, 2020
Former President Barack Obama weighs in on Jordan’s line. And as far as Jordan goes, he’s always an athlete first. A video clip shows him interacting with Muhammad Ali; however, Jordan is a stark contrast when he says, “I do commend Muhammad Ali for standing up for what he believed in, but I never thought of myself as an activist,” Jordan affirms. “I thought of myself as a basketball player. Was I selfish? Probably.”
May 25, 1993: The Dunk (NYK)
The pride of the Knicks’ perspective of the rivalry during this time span, Starks is immortalized not only in New York history but in NBA history with his thunderous slam over Michael Jordan and Horace Grant.
26 years ago today, John Starks got both Horace Grant and MJ 😤
"The Dunk" is one of the most iconic moments at the Garden. pic.twitter.com/ilTzlFJ6SF
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) May 25, 2019
June 2, 1993: Charles Smith Can’t Find The Basket
Yikes. This clip is indicative of the latter half of this series, as the Knicks 2-0 lead spiraled out of control as the Bulls escaped with a win.
1994 Eastern Conference Semifinals: Game 3 Brawl, Pippen’s Dunk, Hollins’ Foul Call, Kukoc’s Game Winner, Knicks Victory
This series had it all… except for Michael Jordan. Jordan took a hiatus to play baseball in 1993-94, which undoubtedly helped the Knicks turn around their five-series postseason losing skid against the Bulls. The series was filled with drama and unforgettable moments. We won’t go into detail on them all, but definitely help yourself to a deep dive and let the nostalgia flood in.
March 28, 1995: The Double Nickel
Jordan was only five games back from his year-long baseball hiatus when he reminded the Knicks just how thankful they were for his absence with two big fives in the scoreboard. He led the Bulls to a two-point victory by dropping 55 points and sealing the game with a great misdirection assist to Bill Wennington.
April 19, 1997: Comeback 103-101 Victory
This game marked the 150th regular season meeting between the Knicks and the Bulls and served as the perfect indicator of how the series looked up to that point. It was a back-and-forth game throughout the second half, though the Bulls were down double digits at halftime. But, when it was all said and done, Patrick Ewing and John Starks turned their game up a notch in the fourth and knotted the series history between these two storied franchises at 75 games apiece.
After a brutal series with the New York Knicks, Jordan and the Bulls went on to the 1993 NBA championship, with ambitions to complete their three-peat. They faced the Phoenix Suns and Charles Barkley. Barkley as named the league MVP that year, and that motivated Jordan to step up his game, a series that featured a battle of NBA superstars .
Jordan scored 33 points in the final game, and secured the win for Chicago.
“Losing to Michael—there’s no shame in that,” says Barkley.
Episode 6 wraps up after the victory. Jordan talks about being exhausted, hinting at the changes to come.
1991 Finals: “Jordan isn’t a winner like Magic and Bird.”
1992 Finals: “Jordan isn’t that much better than Drexler.”
1993 Finals: “Jordan’s gambling is a distraction for the team.”
3 PEATED despite the haters