Last night, ESPN closed the book on “The Last Dance,” its 10-part documentary on Michael Jordan and the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls. Since we haven’t had sports in over two months, the KSR crew has been recapping the series each week. If you missed them, here are our recaps of Episodes One and Two, Three and Four, Five and Six, and Seven and Eight.
Is anyone buying the food poisoning story?
Episode Nine told the story of Jordan’s infamous hangover/flu game during the 1997 Finals. The fact that Jordan was able to score 38 points while riding the struggle bus is impressive, but do you buy his story that it was really just a bad case of food poisoning? Jordan claims he got sick after eating an entire pizza from a Park City restaurant the night before the game.
— Kevin Gray Jr. (@CTSportsRadio) May 18, 2020
Now seems like a good time to remind you that Jordan had editorial control over this entire series.
I would take a Steve Kerr documentary
Steve Kerr has more than made a name for himself in the league as a player and coach, and after last night, I have even more respect for him. When Kerr was a freshman at Arizona, his father Malcom, the president of American University in Beirut, was assassinated by extremists. Kerr said he and Jordan, whose father was also murdered, never spoke about their dads, but this series has shown us how much respect they have for one another. Last week, we saw how that friendship actually started with a fight in practice, and last night we saw how Jordan trusted Kerr to take the game-winning shot in Game 6 of the 1997 NBA Finals.
Steve Kerr was clutch?pic.twitter.com/LQCCtDyojw
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) May 18, 2020
Kerr even roasted Jordan on stage at the championship parade.
? Steve Kerr talks about “bailing Michael Jordan out AGAIN” and hitting the game-winning shot in the 1997 NBA Finals. pic.twitter.com/vm7ffqLA1P
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) June 13, 2019
Who is this woman?
This passionate Indiana Pacers fan became a meme last night, with Twitter churning out all of the jokes about “the original Karen.” At one point, it looked like we had found her. Nashville news anchor Tracy Kornet, mother of former Vanderbilt star/current Chicago Bull Luke Kornet, took ownership with this tweet:
— Tracy Kornet (@WSMVTracyKornet) May 18, 2020
…but it turns out she was just joking because they look so much alike.
So, who is this woman? Lynn Marshall’s mother?
This Rodman-Malone sequence is perfection
There was plenty to love about Dennis Rodman in the final two episodes – his disappearance to “wrastle” alongside Hulk Hogan in the middle of the NBA Finals is about as good as it gets – but I personally loved his back-and-forth with Karl Malone just a few games later.
Third quarter, Game Six, Bulls are up 3-2 in the series with a title on the line? Why not participate in wonderful ‘Worm’ shenanigans?
This exchange between Dennis Rodman and Karl Malone? pic.twitter.com/kUG3OkfI4j
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) May 18, 2020
And this highlight didn’t even show Rodman drilling a 20-footer in Malone’s face not long after and doing the Jordan shrug the entire way back down the floor.
Dennis Rodman shrug pic.twitter.com/e8yzSMMcb7
— Gustavo Vega (@iamvega1982) May 16, 2020
What was Jordan listening to before tip?
Six hours before Game One of the NBA Finals tipped off in 1998, Jordan was in his own world on the team bus.
Wearing headphones in the back row, the Bulls star was bouncing and bobbing his head around to the music in his ears.
“What are you listening to?”
“Kenny Lattimore. Brand new. Not even out yet. He’s a friend of mine, you know I can get that.”
jordan with that kenny lattimore exclusive pic.twitter.com/L1szEfU3iN
— adelle ? (@adelleplaton) May 18, 2020
Lattimore himself added further context to Jordan’s head-bobbing sequence, telling fans exactly what the NBA legend was listening to on the bus.
“In 1998 I sent Michael Jordan an advanced copy of my “From the Soul of Man” album,” Lattimore said on Twitter. “Who knew “Days Like This” was his pre-game hype song though.”
The Scott Burrell hate continues
Throughout the documentary, Jordan’s love-to-hate relationship with former teammate Scott Burrell was discussed thoroughly. And they made sure to continue that trend of hate all the way through the finale.
“You stay away from Scott Burrell,” Jordan told NBC reporter Ahmad Rashad. “You’re not instructed to talk to Scott Burrell. You’ll scare the shit out of him.”
This is loudest I’ve laughed out loud during Last Dance
“You’re not instructed to talk to Scott Burrell” pic.twitter.com/55RsQINZg9
— Jack McGuire (@JackMacCFB) May 18, 2020
Then later in the show during the NBA Finals, Jordan told Burrell that if he ever sees him again after retirement, he was going to “whip [his] ass.”
MJ is a Child
Critics would like to tell you the last five weeks have all been well put together Michael Jordan propaganda. The type of people that take joy in peeing in another person’s Cheerios clearly glossed over one incredibly critical component of the documentary that proves MJ is more selfish than a 10-year-old only child.
Early in the documentary we learned that Jordan often had a personal chef make food for his trailer while he shot commercials and performed photoshoots. To ensure that no one else touched his food, MJ spit on his food. It’s the kind of thing you’d expect to see in a 90’s Disney Channel Original Movie. Why does this matter now? We can prove that it was in fact good poisoning that took down MJ in Utah. Nobody else touched the pizza because he spat on it, proof that there are serious consequences for those who have childish eating habits.
The Bulls would not have won No. 7 in 1999
The Last Dance never shied away from demonizing general manager Jerry Krause. He certainly plays a role in the dynasty’s demise, but so does Phil Jackson, Michael Jordan and Father Time. Of course MJ thought they could win a fourth title in ’99. Maybe the strike that delayed the start of the season until February would have given the old farts more time to physically prepare for one final campaign. Jordan had a few decent years left, but Pippen’s best days were behind him and Rodman’s basketball playing days were numbered (at best). You don’t need to read the final chapter of Jerry Krause’s unpublished memoir to reach this realization.
Michael Jordan beat almost every opponent he ever faced. There is one elusive enemy he still battles to this day, Father Time. Hopefully, one day Michael Jordan can accept that all good things must eventually come to an end.
The Last Dance was not the best sports documentary to grace the 30 for 30 airwaves. It told a story we all knew fairly well in a way that sweetly stirred comforting nostalgia during a trying time. The Last Dance let us relive inspiring moments from 20 years past and see something new: the human behind the icon. The raw emotion Jordan displayed was enlightening. Like all heroes, he battled demons, trials and tribulations, paving a path that took the elusive ‘American Dream’ to new heights.
Dennis Rodman avoiding the media
The media phenomenon surrounding Michael Jordan and those Chicago Bulls teams could not have been explained any better than when Dennis Rodman had to be snuck out of the backdoor like a highly-ranked government official. It was unlike I can picture. NBA teams and players get covered even more closely in today’s world and something like that happening now would blow my mind. Now I’m just imagining a member of KSR sprinting through the bowels of Rupp Arena after Nick Richards tried to sneak out of the back gate because he decided to wrestle before the Final Four. Any guesses on who that might be?
I think what made it so funny was who the Bulls had escorting Rodman to the getaway vehicle; a former fraternity member, likely named Dale, who reminded me of a PR version of Dwight Shrute. The media scrum chasing after Rodman through the back hallways like a pack of content-starved wolves was the icing on the cake.
To be fair to Rodman, who was skipping out on the media sessions due to his own actions, no one has ever embodied what it means to “not take your work home with you” more than he did. When he didn’t have a basketball in his hands, he was no longer a basketball player. I respect that, to a certain extent. He was also really good at playing the game, which certainly helped. Something tells me Steve Kerr likely wouldn’t have been granted such a long leash.
Okay but seriously…
Rodman was WRESTLING. BEFORE. AN NBA FINALS GAME.
The Chicago bulls: practicing for game 4 vs Utah #TheLastDance
Dennis Rodman: pic.twitter.com/zVNrJobwXG
— Hendog (@simpledude777) May 18, 2020
Like, he was smoking cigars with Hulk Hogan one day then winning his fifth NBA Finals the next.
The one thing that will truly haunt the 1990s forever is that they didn’t have social media. Imagine if this happened today… ESPN would create a new show just to talk about it for two hours and I would watch. I would also pay real money for Rodman’s tweets. He would surely have an OnlyFans account, too, right?
He capped off his status as an international icon with this moment.
Dennis Rodman, wearing NWO pants, with Carmen Electra after the 98 NBA Finals and they kiss the Larry O'Brien trophy pic.twitter.com/ZMDgnDpdkP
— Rob Lopez (@r0bato) May 18, 2020
No, Jordan didn’t push off
The documentary culminates with Michael Jordan nailing the go-ahead NBA Finals game-winning shot to beat the Utah Jazz in 1998. Putting the final stamp on his illustrious career, MJ sends Bryon Russell into another dimension and drills the shot that ultimately gave the Bulls its 6th NBA title. There are many that believe Jordan pushed Russell down and an offensive foul should have been called.
Those people are wrong.
Even before Jordan gave his explanation on Sunday night, I never believed he pushed off, especially not enough to warrant an offensive foul. Jordan had Russell falling over before he even decided to pull the ball back for the jumper. That “push off” wouldn’t even get called in today’s NBA, let alone 1998. If anything, MJ did place his hand on Russell, but he sure as hell didn’t shove the poor man to the ground.
Jordan wasn’t going to miss that shot regardless of what Russell did.
ain’t no push off pic.twitter.com/ePp3VMTivg
— Dan Molloy (@DanMolloyTV) May 18, 2020
I’ll add one:
They could’ve done the entire two hours on “The Shot” alone.
I am of course talking about the biggest shot in the history of the NBA Playoffs: Reggie Miller’s three-pointer to win Game 4 of the 1998 Eastern Conference Finals. My GOAT shrugged off two Bulls defenders, one being Michael Jordan, to get open for a clear inbounds pass, and then hit the turnaround three-pointer (nothing but net because Reggie Miller) with less than a second remaining.
The shot robbed Jordan and the Bulls dynasty of the win on that particular night, thus causing a major inconvenience in the path of “The Last Dance.” If Miller misses that shot, the Bulls win Game 4 and close the series in Chicago the following game, which would alter the course of history. Does Michael even beat the Jazz if Reggie doesn’t hit that shot weeks earlier? I rest my case.
Now give us 10 hours of Reggie content over the next five Sunday nights.