Michael Jordan and the MountainPublished:
May 18, 2020
For those of you not living on planet Earth, The Last Dance is a 10 part docuseries chronicling Michael Jordan's final season with the Chicago Bulls while bouncing around to prior years in Jordan's life and career. This article will examine some key people from the series.
Let's get obvious out of the way: Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time. Now that we got that out of the way let's move on.
There are not enough superlatives to describe Jordan and his obsession with winning. What makes it all the more incredible is that it didn't come easy. Jordan had to earn it and take his lumps, for years, against the Celtics, the Pistons, and others. The 80s' were the building blocks for what would become the greatest player of all time. It's fair to wonder if what happened in the 90s never comes to fruition if the struggles of the 80s never happened. Unfortunately, for the rest of the league, the 80s did happen and it unleashed the greatest run in NBA history.
I think we tend to want to believe that what we see and experience is the greatest. Whether it be a player, a play, a concert, or whatever it might be, we want to believe that there is no way something we didn't experience could possibly be better. There are so many all-time great NBA players that are footnotes in history because of Michael Jordan. It is incredibly difficult to quantify that. So many other players could have called themselves champions if Michael Jordan didn't exist. The stories about Jordan aren't these mythical 'oh my god if only you could have been there' fantasies. They are real and that is what makes them all the more incredible.
Michael Jordan played a brand of basketball that has no comparison and this docuseries peels back the onion, even if just a little bit, to show us all that just because we maybe did not get to experience it first-hand doesn't make it less true that Jordan has no equal.
From the constant pushing (and fighting) of teammates to the need to seemingly always have something on the line, Jordan was always competing, and any and everything was motivation to beat the other person or the other team. Michael Jordan was relentless in his pursuit of competition. He was maniacal in his pursuit of winning.
As Jordan said, and I am paraphrasing, "none of the other stuff happens if he averages 3 points and 2 rebounds a game." All the endorsements, movies, commercials, 'Be Like Mike' jingles, everything. None of that happens without this insatiable dedication to the game of basketball.
When someone who was there tells you 'There is no one like Michael Jordan" believe them. Don't believe them because you think you should, believe them because it's true.
What if LaBradford Smith actually had the audacity to speak to Jordan? Would Jordan have bludgeoned him with a basketball at halfcourt? How dare LaBradford not actually say anything to Jordan!
RIP LaBradford. I bet his funeral was beautiful.
"Whenever they speak Micheal Jordan, they should speak Scottie Pippen."
Scottie Pippen is one of the top 50 players of all time and won six championships but will never be talked about with Jordan being mentioned in some form or fashion. I wonder is Scottie, deep down, resents that? I wouldn't blame him if he did but there are a lot of other great players from all different eras; players like Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, A.I., Reggie Miller, George Gervin, Dominique Wilkins, Elgin Baylor, Stockton and Malone, and on and on and on that would trade places with Pippen in a heartbeat and that is all the validation that Scottie Pippen needs.
John Michael Wozniak
Pour one out for The Greatest Security Guard of All Time™.
My favorite part of The Last Dance was when Jerry Krause came to Reinsdorf and said, "Hey I know we just won our 6th championship and we have the greatest player of all time, a top 50 player of all time, and one of the greatest coaches of all time but we don't need them anymore." Reinsdorf was all "Are you insane? What are you even talking about, you're fired for even suggesting something so stupid!" Then he had Krause escorted by security out of the building. He then called the Mayor of Chicago and had Krause banned from the city and called the President of the United States and had Krause expelled from the country. After that, he called NASA and said "Send Krause to the moon and leave him there!" NASA did that because Reindorf wanted Krause as far away from his basketball team as humanly possible for suggesting something so asinine and then Reinsdorf gave Jordan, Pippen, and Jackson multi-year extensions to keep the group together. Oh, wait, what? That didn't happen? Reinsdorf signed off on that suggestion and let the Jordan, Pippen, and Jackson walk?!? It's easy to pile on Krause and his Napoleon complex, and I will be doing so in a few paragraphs, but it cannot be understated how incredibly horrible of an owner Jerry Reinsdorf is.
*shouting* One more time, for everyone in the back.
Jerry Reinsdorf is, without a doubt, one of the worst owners in the history of sports for allowing that to happen.
Gambling and First Retirement
I don't know what is or isn't true around MJ's first retirement but every explanation feels like something is being left out. The thing about conspiracies is that they are almost impossible to disprove, which is why the are conspiracies. But just because something can't be disproved it doesn't mean it is true. While I don't think David Stern secretly suspended him for gambling I also don't buy that the most fierce competitor in the NBA one day decided that he was tired and needed a break. Based on everything the series has shown us it is more plausible to believe Jordan would have used that tiredness as motivation to keep going - a fight within himself to prove he could still persevere. I don't know what is and what isn't I just know that I don't fully buy the reasoning.
As for gambling, all I can say is who cares? I don't care what MJ does with his money, in the same way, I don't care about what you do with your money or you don't care about what I do with my money.
The Second Retirement
See the Jerry Reinsdorf section.
My god, Jerry Krause, what did you do? No one cares that you drafted Pippen to compliment Jordan when you broke up the greatest dynasty in NBA history all because your little ego was hurt because people didn't sing your praises. You could have transported Jordan and Pippen to any downtrodden team with a bad owner and terrible front office and they would have turned it around and won... oh wait, that's right, they did that! The Bulls were a dumpster fire with a horrible owner and awful front office before Jordan and Pippen arrived, but yes, tell me more about how great organizations, not players, win championships.
Jerry Krause is the only reason Jerry Krause doesn't get the credit he thinks he deserves.
John Stockton drills a three and puts the Jazz up by 3 with less than a minute to go. From that point on no other Chicago Bull touches the ball except Michael Jordan. No other player scores except Michael Jordan.
William Shakespeare, Edgar Allen Poe, Emily Dickenson, Robert Frost, T.S. Eliot, et al. want you to watch forty-two seconds of poetry in motion.
The Last Dance did an incredible job of reminding people who were there and showing younger generations of people who weren't there the greatness that is Michael Jordan.
There will never be another Michael Jordan.
Players today and players to come will all try to climb the mountain. Some might even reach the top, but what they will fail to understand is that Michael Jordan isn't sitting at the top of the mountain.
Michael Jordan is the Mountain.