Michael Jordan Gets Revenge, Emotional Tribute To Late Father, In Newest Inspring Episodes Of, The Last Dance

“He was my rock.  We were very close.  He constantly gave advice.  I remember in 9th grade I got suspended three times in one year and my father pulled me aside that Summer and said, ‘Look you don’t look like you’re headed in the right direction.  You know you want to go about doing all this mischievous stuff and you can forget Sports.  That’s all I needed to hear.  And from that point on it was like tunnel vision.”  That’s how the latest episodes of ESPN Films very stellar and popular current, The Last Dance, 10-part mini-doc that aired on ESPN on Sunday night.  Centering on Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls 90’s dynasty final championship year of 1997-1998.  Started off and with Jordan also adding, “He was the voice of reason that always drove me and challenged me.  That’s the type of Father I had.  ‘Like a friend.”  

Me hearing Jordan talk so fondly of his Father and how close of a relationship he had with him before he passed.  While showing all of those raw emotions and crying really hits hard in these episodes and at the moment hits home even more so for me.  Making me shed a few tears myself with me recently losing my own Father and us also having that type of close relationship as well.  Episodes seven and eight really centering around Jordan’s very close relationship with his late Father, James and how his maniac competitiveness and no-holds barred passion and leadership, as well as his foray into baseball after his first retirement and the passing of his Father.  Was by far the most inspiring of the eight episodes so far and something I really needed as motivation and inspiration right now with what me and my family are going through.
 
Even seeing Jordan play baseball in the Chicago White Sox organization and talking about how choosing to play baseball cause it was the first sport his Father introduced him to.  Is something most of us men can relate to with most of us having baseball obviously be introduced to us by our Father’s when we’re first growing up.  Jordan himself saying, “A lot of people may think this is off the wall. Maybe it is.  I’m doing something that I choose to do and that’s trying to follow one of the dreams I had when I was a kid.”  Me and so many others who grew up here in the Chicago area being fans of both the Bulls and White Sox why it’s so relatable too.  Jordan had to adore how his teammates at Double-A Birmingham treated him as just another baseball player as well.  Saying, “Sure I was this big icon.  But they treated me just as I wanted to be treated.  Like one of the guys.”  One of the reporters saying how, “It was good for him.  It was like he was a kid again.”

Jordan’s drive as a maniacal leader and motivator that tried to really push his teammates to be better.  Was one they all may not have appreciated at the time, but really felt later on and more so now.  As told by his former teammate Will Purdue, who said, “Let’s not get it wrong, he was an a**hole, he was a jerk, he crossed the line numerous times.  But as time goes on and you think back about what he was actually trying to accomplish, you’re like, ‘Yeah, he was a hell of a teammate.”  Jordan himself even passionately saying how, “My mentality was to win at any cost.  If you don’t want to live that rich man mentality than you don’t need to be alongside me.  Cause I’m going to really kill you till you get on that same level as me.”  Also adding, “Winning has a price.  And leadership has a price.  So I pulled people when they didn’t want to be pulled.  I challenged people when they didn’t want to be challenged.  And I earned that right because my teammates came after me.  They didn’t endure all the things I endured.  You think about all my teammates, ‘the one thing about Michael Jordan was he never asked me to do something that he didn’t fvcking do.’  When people see this, they’re gonna say, ‘Well, he wasn’t really a nice guy, he may have been a tyrant.’  Well, that’s you.  Because you never won anything.  I wanted to win, but I wanted them to win and be apart of that as well.  Look I don’t have to do this and I’m only doing it because it’s who I am.  That’s how I play the game.”  Moved to tears as he adds, “That’s my mentality, if you don’t want to play that way, don’t play that way.”  That push, passion and competitive nature, the perfect way to end episode seven and go into episode eight. 

Where Jordan would use even the smallest of slight as vengeance to motivate himself against an opponent.  One of the most famous ones being after the Charlotte Hornets team that he ironically enough now owns.  Gave him a bit of motivation after his one-time former teammmate B.J. Armstrong hit a clinching shot past Jordan in Game 2 of their ’98 Eastern Conference Semifinals matchup to give the Hornets the very nail-biting 78-76 win to even the series and let Michael, his former coach Phil Jackson and other former teammates like Scottie Pippen hear about it while yelling at their bench.  Jordan would show off his not give a fvck swag and attitude with easily one of the greatest scenes of the series so far.  Where he’s in the locker room with a cigar in his mouth while he’s swinging around a baseball bat and talking shit.  Saying, “That’s the sign of a good man if you can talk shit when it’s an even score or talk shit when you’re behind score.  But when you’re ahead it’s easy to talk.”  Jordan would go on to score 27, 31 and 33 in helping the Bulls win the next three games to clinch their sixth in eight years of the decade Eastern Conference Finals berth.  The series then panning back to when MJ made his first return from retirement with a simple fax stating, “I’m back.”

Only 17 games left in the ’94-95 regular season and coming back wearing number 45, Jordan and the Bulls would end up losing to another one-time former teammmate, Horace Grant.  Who was part of a great young Orlando Magic team that included a young Shaquille O’Neal.  That beat the Bulls in the second round of the playoffs that year and would be Finals bound.  Only to eventually lose to the Rockets.  Jordan not quite being himself after a year and a half away from basketball, would go back to number 23 after Chicago-born Magic wing, Nick Anderson, took a jab at Jordan not being the same wearing Number 45.  The Bulls losing to Orlando that year, Jordan would use it as motivation during that offseason as he was filming the movie Space Jam to get Chicago back to the mountaintop.  As Jordan had his own domed training facility on the Warner Bros. lot that they had built for him right next to the set of the movie.  Where MJ used pickup games after filming the movie to also take notes on the NBA players he had training with him.  Jordan would use that offseason as a man on a mission.  Getting into a squabble with his new teammate Steve Kerr during training camp of that ’95-96 season.  They would come to blows when Jordan punched him in the eye during a practice and the two fought it out with Kerr saying, “I’m extremely competitive too, but just not really good enough to back it up, usually.”  Jordan asking for Kerr’s number after earning his respect for standing up for himself and receiving a rare apology from MJ for doing so.  That rebuilt ’95-96 Bulls team that had just added Dennis Rodman, would end up the most dominant team Jordan was apart of his career and even one of the most dominant in NBA history to that point.  By winning a then record 72 games in the regular season and pretty much cruising through most of the playoffs. 

The soundtrack to The Last Dance really being top notch still too throughout.  As KRS-One’s ’97 classic, Step Into a World (Rapture’s Delight), play as highlights of that dominant ’95-96 Bulls regular season played.  Jordan and the Bulls getting their revenge by sweeping the Magic in that years Eastern Conference Finals.  Where they would go onto face the Seattle Supersonics, that were lead by Gary Payton, who was the Defensive Player of the Year that year.  The Bulls dominating the first three games and going up easily 3-0 before Payton than started guarding Jordan.  Then making it a series, though Jordan himself laughed it off about Payton thinking he locked him up at all in that ’96 Finals.  Saying, “The Glove.  I had no problem with The Glove.  I had no problem with Gary Payton.  I had a lot of other things on my mind.”  Jordan would famously be caught by TV cameras going to the Bulls locker room by himself and collapsed on the floor broken down crying clinging to the game ball.  After the Bulls won the championship on Father’s Day that year and it being the first he had won since his Father’s tragic passing just three years earlier.  Jordan obviously hit with so much emotion and before panning back to the final Bulls championship year of ’98, that’s the mini-doc series main focus.  The perfect heartfelt and emotional climax to end this Sunday’s episodes before going into next Sunday night’s final two episodes.  Also very inspiring and motivating that hit me with a bit of emotions after recently just freshly unfortunately losing my Father myself.