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Phil Rosenthal: We watched 1st 8 episodes of ESPNs 10-part Last Dance documentary on 1997-98 Bulls and its exactly what sports fans need

Source: Chicago Tribune / Getty

Right now, all sports fans (and Michael Jordan stans) are praising ESPN for rescheduling the airing of The Last Dance for now instead of after the finals.

For starters, the NBA Finals are temporarily postponed because of the coronavirus and everyone is home bored. But thankfully after the first two episodes of the Michael Jordan documentary everyone got their minds off of the world ending and got a chance to remember why MJ really is the GOAT. Jordan admitted that he thinks people will hate him after it airs, likely because of his ruthless winning tactics, but the first two installations have us shocked for other reasons.

Jordan dry snitches on his teammates for doing cocaine, Jerry Krause, the GM and face behind the Bulls gets cracked on by MJ and berated by Scottie Pippen on the team bus, and His Airness risks his whole career to play as an 8th seed in the playoffs. Aside from all the recaps about The Last Dance, we’ve got a running list of the most surprising and craziest sh*t we’re learning from the documentary. Stay locked as this list will be updated at the end of each episode.

1. Jerry Krause

Jerry Krause Source:Getty

“Organizations win championships, not players,” was all Jerry Krause had to say to lose the team. In the first episode of The Last Dance, we learn that Krause had a Napoleon complex and continuously got in his own way. Although he’d make the tough (but needed) trade of sending Charles Oakley to New York for Cartwright, he’d shoot himself in the foot more often than not. He even went as far as to tell Phil Jackson, the year before he solidified his second 3-peat, that he didn’t care if the team won all 82 games because he’d be fired at the end of the 1998 season.

2. Pippen’s Problems & Contract)


Some people forget that Jordan didn’t win all that hardware alone– Scottie Pippen was the Robin to his Batman. “Whenever they speak Michael Jordan, they should speak Scottie Pippen,” Jordan confidently said in the documentary, appreciating what Pippen brought to the game. But the team’s brass wasn’t as appreciative as he signed a 7 years/18million contract– 122nd paid player in the league– and didn’t look out for him towards the end of it. Pippen took it personally and even decided to get surgery before the beginning of the season to show the Bulls how much they needed him.

“I didn’t want to fuck my summer up,” were Pippen’s exact words. Even Phil Jackson couldn’t be mad at the decision.

3. Jordan’s Broken Foot


Injuries weren’t a big deal for Jordan. He played all his high school and college games, but when landing flat-footed in his second season as a Chicago Bull, he broke his foot. Because he was such a competitor, he was going crazy being forced to sit on the bench and watch the team struggle. He eventually convinced the staff to let him go back to school. But what they didn’t know is that he began practicing while back in Chapel Hill. He went from playing one-on-one to eventually playing five-on-five without the Bulls’ approval. He’d been working so hard, the calf muscle on the leg of the broken foot was larger than the other. He was stuck with minute restrictions when he returned and riskily played despite a 10% chance of a career-ending reinjury.

4. The Story Behind Jordan’s 63 Point Game

Chicago Bulls Vs. Boston Celtics At Boston Garden Source:Getty

That 63 point game was something special, but now knowing the story behind it makes it even more epic. After winning 30 games and somehow becoming the 8th seed, the burgeoning Bulls were taking on the almighty Celtics stacked with Kevin McHale, Larry Bird, and Bill Walton. In game one, Jordan went off for 49 points but had even more in store for game two. But before, Jordan played golf with Danny Ainge and the smack talk was immaculate.

“Tell your boy DJ I got something for him tomorrow,” said MJ. He indeed did have something for defensive stalwart Dennis Johnson that very next game– 63 points.

5. The Cocaine Circus

Chicago Bulls v Washington Bullets Source:Getty

Did Michael Jordan dry snitch on his teammates for the illegal behaviors he witnessed during his rookie year? Damn right he did. After being sheltered at UNC, he admitted he wasn’t prepared for his new life in Chicago. In the documentary, he recounts walking into a teammate’s hotel room and seeing all the alcohol, weed, and cocaine lines anyone could ever want. At that time, Jordan wasn’t the tequila sipping, cigar-puffing legend he is now so he decided to skip the fun.

6. 48 Hours In Vegas

BKN BULLS-76ERS 4 Source:Getty

When Scottie Pippen returned from his 1997 surgery, Rodman was no longer Jordan’s right-hand man and was happy to be the outlier again. His first order of business? Get Phil Jackson to grant him a 48-hour debaucherous vacation to Vegas. Of course, the party continued when Rodman got back to the windy city so Jordan had to go pull him out of bed while his then-girlfriend Carmen Electra hid behind a couch. Legendary.

7. Doug Collins Vs. The Triangle

2016 NBA Finals - Game 4 Source:Getty

It seems like no one really likes the triangle offense when they’re first introduced to it. Bulls HC Doug Collins let Jordan run the offense which means he usually had the ball in his hands. But assistant Tex Winter’s new style diversified the Bulls talents which clearly wasn’t good enough to get them past the Eastern Conference Finals. Collins couldn’t get hip to it so he was ousted and thus begins the Phil Jackson legacy.

Before the rings piled up, Jordan wasn’t feeling the system either.

“Everybody has the opportunity to touch the ball, but I didn’t want Bill Cartwright to have the ball with five seconds left. That’s not an equal opportunity offense, that’s f*cking bullsh*t,” he said.

8. The Jordan Rules

Pistons v Bulls Source:Getty

We all know that every era’s great players are closely watched to try and slow them down, but we never knew how much of a beating Jordan took when the Detriot Pistons implemented the Jordan rules. Every time Jordan entered the paint, the Pistons made sure he ended up on the ground. But after getting beat up two years in a row, Jordan got in the weight room during the offseason and the rest is history.

9. Michael Jordan Vs. Isiah Thomas

Michael Jordan and Isaiah Thomas in Game Action Source:Getty

It’s not like we ever doubted it. But Jordan is still angry about Isiah Thomas refusing to shake hands after getting defeated in the 1991 Eastern Conference Finals. Thomas tried to brush it off as a passing of the crown, but Jordan still isn’t buying it.

“I know it’s all bullsh*t,” Jordan said in The Last Dance. “Whatever he says now, you know it wasn’t his true actions then. He has time left to think about it, or the reaction from the public has changed his perspective.”

10. Isiah Thomas Left Off The Dream Team

Isiah Thomas Source:Getty

We all know that Isiah Thomas never should have been left off the ‘92 Olympic team. And if you thought we’d get some clarity from The Last Dance documentary, we didn’t. 

“You want to attribute it to me, go ahead, and be my guest. But it wasn’t me,” Jordan said while taking no blame.

Sports journalist Jack McCallum still alleges that at the time Jordan Told Rod Thorn, who drafted him “Rod, I don’t want to play if Isiah is on the team.”

Thomas spoke about missing out but didn’t have much to say.

“I don’t know what went into that process. I met the criteria to be selected, but I wasn’t,” Thomas said in the documentary.

11. Toni Kukoc The Enemy

Chicago Bulls v Charlotte Hornets Source:Getty

Toni Kukoc may have one three rings with the Bulls, but before the dynasty, Jordan and Pippen hated him. Like most things, it was because of Jerry Krause who believed the European baller was the future of the team and wasn’t as focused as he should have been focused on giving Scottie Pippen a better contract. The Dream team bullied him in the Olympics and exposed his flaws.

“Jerry paved the way for a lot of hell for Tony Kukoc,” said Pippen.

12. Jordan’s Politics


Jordan’s disdain for politics and never choosing sides is known, especially when he infamously said: “Republicans buy sneakers, too.”

The documentary tells the story of Jordan not endorsing Harvey Gantt, who was running for Senate in his home state North Carolina up against racist Jesse Helms. His mom asked him to help with the campaign but he had no urge to be an activist and decided to just donate to his campaign

“I do commend Muhammad Ali for standing up what he believes in. But I never thought of myself as an activist. I was a basketball player,” Jordan said.

13. Jordan The Gambler

PGA: APR 28 Quail Hollow Championship - Pro-Am Source:Getty

Finally, we got to hear about Jordan’s gambling–erm we mean competitive spirit.

“I don’t have a gambling problem. I have a competition problem,” he attempted to explain.

The media made it a big deal that after losing one game to the Knicks in the 1993 eastern conference playoffs, he dipped off to blow off some steam in Atlantic City. The media blew it up, but it turns out this wasn’t the first time MJ turned to gambling. When the team won its first title in 1991 they were invited to the White House, MJ didn’t make it because he was too busy golfing and gambling with James “Slim” Bouler, a known golf hustler. It got so big that people pondered if Jordan was point shaving Bulls games.

14. Throwing Hands With Steve Kerr

Chicago Bulls player Michael Jordan (L) congratula Source:Getty

Jordan felt that Steve Kerr came to the Bulls in the midst of the team already riding a high and didn’t think he earned it. This lead to the relationship getting off to a rocky start and came to a head in practice when Kerr got fouled hard by Jordan. Kerr responded by hitting MJ in the chest and Jordan punched him in the face. Jordan felt bad immediately and called him after practice to make amends.

“Our relationship dramatically improved in our trust in each other,” Kerr said. “It was like, ‘All right; we got that out of the way.’ We’re going to war together.”

15. The David Stern Suspension Theory

Michael Jordan (R) of the Chicago Bulls shakes han Source:Getty

We all love a good conspiracy, right? Well, legend has it that Jordan’s gambling got so bad that NBA Commissioner David Stern suspended Jordan for 18 months. Instead of owning up to it, Jordan framed it by retiring and deciding to play baseball. Of course, it wasn’t true. 

“How can I put this delicately? ‘Total bullsh-t.’ Can you use that?” NBA communications advisor Brian McIntyre said in The Last Dance.

16. His Father’s Wishes

Orlando Magic v Chicago Bulls Source:Getty

For decades, Jordan said that his baseball dreams came from his father’s love of the sport. But little did we know that before James Jordan was murdered in 1993, the last conversation he ever had with his son was about leaving the game of basketball for the baseball diamond.

“Do it. Do it. Do it,” is what Michael revealed his dad said.

17. He Needed a (Fake) Competitive Edge

Washington Bullets Source:Getty

On March 19, 1993, Washington Bullet LaBradford Smith scored a career-high 37 points against Michael Jordan. Jordan said that after the game, Smith told him “Nice game, Mike.”

Mike used that to fuel the next game against the Bullets as he vowed to score Smith’s career-high in just two-quarters of play. He did, of course, but it turns out Smith never said to him “Nice game, Mike.” It was all a lie, and even he didn’t want the press to make a big deal out of it because it’d competitively set Mike off.

18. Seattlesupersonics v Washington Bullets

Seattlesupersonics v Washington Bullets Source:Getty

Oh, George Karl. We know that once Jordan has a reason to embarrass you, he’ll go that extra mile. Karl, the head coach of the Seattle Supersonics, unfortunately, ended up on the receiving end when he snubbed him at a restaurant before the Finals 1996 began.

“He walked right past me,” Jordan said. “I said, ‘It’s a crock of s—t.’ We went to Carolina. You know Dean Smith … You’re gonna do this? OK, fine. That’s all I needed. That’s all I needed — for him to do that — and it became personal with me.”

19. His Airness vs The Glove

Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls (L) looks to m Source:Getty

If one bad decision wasn’t enough, coach Karl made another when he decided that Gary Payton wouldn’t be defending Jordan. Payton was known for his lockdown defensive skills and believes if  Jordan was his primary assignment for the first few games of the series, things could have been different.

Jordan’s response to hearing that created yet another Jordan meme.

20. For The Love Of Steve Kerr

Chicago Bulls v Minnesota Timberwolves Source:Getty

In the ninth episode of The Last Dance, we finally get a good look into Steve Kerr. For someone who won 5 championships as a player and 3 as a coach, it’s been a long time coming. He and Michael never spoke about it, but both their fathers were sadly murdered. Kerr’s was the president of a University in Beirut at a time that was very dangerous for Americans and was shot in the head by people posing as students. Thanks to the teachings of John Paxson –the ultimate role player– Kerr became a trusted teammate for Jordan.

21. Dennis Rodman Ditching Practice for Hulk Hogan

Comedy Central Roast Of Bruce Willis Source:WENN

What? You thought we’d go an entire episode of The Last Dance without Dennis Rodman’s shenanigans? 

After game 3 of the 1998 NBA Finals in which the Bulls blew out the Utah Jazz, Rodman decided to celebrate by flying to Detriot from Chicago to take part in a WCW match alongside Hulk Hogan. The only problem is that he skipped practice when he decided to hop in the ring.

“I wasn’t trying to do anything,” Rodman said. “I was just trying to play basketball, party, da da da, f–k all the girls. Just be me, Dennis. I think Phil realized that I needed to always do me, just go do what I do.”

Of course, the media blew it up, which led to an epic scene where Rodman had to run out of the arena and speed off in his car before the press could speak to him.

22. Philip Jackson Let’s It Burn

12th Rome Film Festival - Philip Douglas Jackson - Red Carpet Source:WENN

It was all over. The Last Dance had concluded and the Bulls were on top for the sixth time in the past eight years. Riding high on the moment, coach Phil Jackson wanted his team to know that this would be the last time they’d all be together and wanted to take advantage of it. So he had all the players write down what the Bulls journey meant to them. After they read it allowed they crumbled it up and tossed it into a coffee can.  The normally emotionally reserved Jordan wrote a touching poem about what the experience meant to him. After everyone read their passage, Jackson lit a match and tossed it into the coffee can.