It was a fantastic time last Sunday evening seeing the first two parts of the much-anticipated Michael Jordan documentary. Much has been made about the debate between LeBron James and MJ for the greatest basketball player ever, and this will give a lot of credibility to the MJ side. It has been a long-running conversation, and for MJ, who played in the non-social media era, this is a lot.
For two hours, we learned about Jordan’s backstory and his college work ethic. We learned about his time at North Carolina and his long-running toxic relationship with general manager Jerry Krause. How he always worked harder than everybody else and became a leader for the Bulls while he was still playing in his first NBA season.
His drive to be great was shown early on when he got out of the hotel room, where the majority of his teammates were doing “recreational drugs and smoking weed,” while he had no interest in being there. He instead just went back to his room and did his own thing.
Jordan has always been ruthless on the basketball court, going back to his days of being a hometown star in high school, a place where he didn’t even make varsity as a sophomore. He came back and wound up leading the team for his final two years, which he did in classic MJ fashion, just dominating everybody else.
One of his Bulls teams, as we saw in the doc, made the playoffs with a 30-52 record. During that year, Jordan was on a limit of seven minutes per half during the stretch run as he recovered from the only significant injury he has ever suffered while playing. And still, he found a way to dominate in those stretches and did enough to help them make the playoffs.
MJ somehow had a 63-point playoff game on the road in Boston, and it wasn’t even enough to beat the mighty Celtics. But his highlight mixtape from the day was enough to earn the respect of the league’s best team that won 37 more games than Chicago during the regular season.
As we prepare for the next two parts of the doc, Jordan’s story will continue. We’ll likely see a lot more of Dennis Rodman and Toni Kukoc, learning more about their long-winding journeys to end up playing for the team. Both were integral parts of several championships.
The underlying theme of the whole story comes from what Phil Jackson titled The Last Dance, knowing that Tim Floyd was going to be coming in and taking his job after the 1997-98 season. That is the name of the documentary, the whole point being about going through their final title run together.
Imagine if that Bulls team never won the title? We won’t get to that part in the documentary for a few weeks (most likely), but it would have been crazy if it didn’t end with success.
It is must-see TV, and ESPN’s record views on it are telling of its popularity and agreement with that sentiment.
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