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The Last Dance: The Creation Of The 90’s Bulls

A look into the first two episodes of “The Last Dance.” The ESPN documentary about the lengendary 90’s Bulls

6x Champion Chicago Bulls by Marit & Toomas Hinnosars is licensed under CC BY SA-2.0

The Last Dance: The Creation Of The 90’s Bulls

Estimated Reading Time: 6 Minutes

In a world without sports, ESPN brings us what we’ve desperately needed: the 1990’s Chicago Bulls.

If you are like many of us sports fans, you have been somewhat lost without sports during social distancing wondering how to scratch that itch. Thankfully, basketball fans young and old just spent two hours glued to a screen watching the first two episodes of “The Last Dance,” the new documentary that is taking a look at one of the greatest teams of all time, with the greatest player of all time, Michael Jordan.

I’ll be the first to say I was too young to watch Michael Jordan and the 90’s Bulls on TV. So I’ve been looking forward to this since it was announced. I really wanted to see what was happening in the 90’s and how it impacted today’s NBA. After watching the first episode, the best way to describe the 90’s Bulls was that they were The Beatles of Sports.

Watching the crowds in France wait for the Bulls, was like watching some of the clips of Beatlemania and how people reacted to their arrival. Everyone on that team was a superstar, led by the biggest star of all, #23 himself.

Overall, this documentary is all over the place. While it tries to keep its focus on the Bulls as a whole, it just keeps going back to Jordan, jumping though time back and forth throughout Jordan’s life with no real order.

Episode 2 was supposed to be the Scottie Pippen’s episode, but somehow we started talking about Michael’s childhood and how he got cut for the Varsity team and had to settle for JV and he didn’t like that. Regardless, it is very interesting and has a few highlights.

Jerry Krause

This guy. The General Manager of the 90’s Bulls. The man that put together the team to 3-peat twice. He is also the man that tried to break it up before ring number six. He is also Short and Fat.

Jerry Krause is the early villain to the 90’s Bulls. For everything that he did right, he did something wrong. Michael Jordan did not respect him in any way, making jokes about him being short and fat CONSTANTLY.

(Not an exact quote)

Krause wanted Phil Jackson gone after the team won it’s 5th ring. He wanted to start a rebuild, because he felt that the team was getting past their prime. Listen, I’m no expert, but in basketball, if you have the best player in the world, you try and win titles until he is no longer the best player in the world.

The documentary as a whole is a lead up to the ’97-’98 season, AKA The Last Dance. The Utah Jazz/Bulls Finals, was called this by Phil Jackson because Krause wanted to once again start a rebuild ahead of the ’97 championship and wanted Jackson out of the picture. Ahead of the ’97 tip-off, the Bulls signed the legendary coach for one last season and told the world it would be his last. Krause said to Jackson’s face that the Bulls could go 82-0 and he would still be out. This man was so over Phil Jackson that there was nothing to be done about it.

Michael Jordan

Everyone knows Michael Jordan. The GOAT. The first episode was about setting the tone for the final season of the Bulls Dynasty and how it all started with the 1984 NBA Draft.

The first two episodes pointed out how competitive Michael Jordan was and probably still is. They took us through his time at UNC and his freshman year when the Tar Heels won the 1982 National Title. That season he hit the game-winner in the National Championship game and claimed that that was when he went from “Mike to Michael Jordan.”

He stayed in Chapel Hill for two more years before getting drafted third-overall to The Bulls in 1984. His college coaches claimed he got exponentially better each year in college and they told him to forgo his senior season to be a top 5 pick in the NBA draft. Turns out they were right, and he made an immediate impact on the abysmal franchise that was the Chicago Bulls.

The most interesting thing about this part of the episode was that MJ told the cameras that he didn’t really like partying or going to clubs like some of his other teammates. They described it as if he was still living as if he had the income of a college student. I for one am shocked that in his early 20’s he’d rather play card games than go out in Chicago. Definitely not how I would have been spending my free time as basketball’s biggest star.

Michael’s Critical Acclaim

After his foot injury his 30-win team made the playoffs for the first time. They were playing the Larry Bird led Celtics in the first round. Jordan explained how unhappy he was with the organization, citing the team’s desire to not win the final game of the season to push them to the playoff to attain a higher draft pick. Michael’s relationship with the Front Office was apparently always on edge after that. This led to him averaging 43.7 points per game against the Celtics, in a series where the Bulls got swept. Although the Bulls lost, both Magic and Bird talked about how this showed that Jordan was the most talented player in the NBA.

Scottie Pippen

Episode 2 was all about MJ’s Number 2, Scottie Pippen. This episode clearly was about how underpaid Pippen was.

Pippen was on a 7-year, $18 million contract. He was the 6th highest-paid player on the team and the 122th highest-paid player in the LEAGUE. Now, Pippen explains that he took this contract because he didn’t want to risk injury and he needed to make sure his family was taken care of. It is just unfortunate that the league and his skills took off after he signed that and he was forever underpaid.

Pippen suffered a ruptured tendon near the end of the ’96-’97 season and decided to wait the summer to get the surgery. And in the words of Scottie Pippen himself:

Michael Jordan was not happy with this and claimed the Pippen did this not just to save his summer vacation, but to get back at the organization that would talk to him about a new contract. This put The Bulls in a crappy situation at the start of the next season. Without Pippen in the line up the team struggle and MJ became more agitated with his teammates to put it lightly.

Who Is This Documentary About?

Now this is were the documentary decided to take us back to MJ’s youth and talk about his older brother. Really making the whole middle portion about Michael instead of Pippen. This is probably going to be a big trend for the whole series, so get used to it.

They also went in-depth on Michaels’s foot injury that he had earlier in his career and how much he wanted to get back to playing, unlike Scottie who allegedly placed his surgery to try and get more money from the team. That is something MJ would never do. He’ll just leave the team for 18 months to try and play baseball.

We end this episode with Pippen asking for a trade during the ’97-’98 season because our good friend Jerry Krause was shopping him around to try and get a rebuild going. Man, Jerry just ruins everything.

ESPN is airing new episodes on Sundays at 9pm ET. Episode 3 is supposed to be Dennis Rodman‘s episodes. That man could probably fill up an entire series himself.

Lighting Designer by day, sports fan the rest of the time. New York City is the best city on Earth. Getting mad over the Yankees, Giants, Knicks, and Rangers occupies most of my time. Bowling and Golf are the only sports I can play. Joey Chestnut is America's greatest athlete.

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