Winners and losers from 'The Last Dance'
MANILA, Philippines — So the 10-episode event of 2020 has come to pass. The final two episodes of "The Last Dance" have been aired of this remarkable documentary and it has people all over the world buzzing.
Here is our list for the winners and losers of The Last Dance.
Michael Jordan. After all these years, the greatest basketball player ever — warts, bullying, mania and all — still comes up roses. As we previously wrote in all our stories regarding "The Last Dance", this was done for the new generation. So the young will know and not forget. And to put an end to these conversations and thoughts that LeBron James is the best and within his zip code.
No, James isn’t.
Here’s a bone for you to chew. Both Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain are contemporaries. Wilt always had the better stats than Russell, but why was he never considered the best or better than Russell? Because, Bill had 11 championships to Chamberlain’s two.
Over at the NFL, Drew Brees has more passing yards than Tom Brady, 77,416 to 74,571. Brees also has more touchdown passes, 547-541, than Brady. Heck, Aaron Rodgers has had a higher QB rating than Brady, 102.9 to 97.6.
But do you think that Brees (one Super Bowl title) or even Rodgers (one Super Bowl title) are considered the Greatest of All Time in the NFL? I am not even a New England Patriots fan, but I do know that Tom Brady — who has six Super Bowl championships — is the GOAT.
Jordan reminded those who watched him in the 1980s and the 1990s how his passion, fire, determination and win-at-all-costs mentality lit a fire for those Bulls, who smashed records. To borrow a term used by New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone in describing his players, Jordan was a "savage". The way he attacked that rim, opponents and even opposing coaches is one to behold.
And he even showed his humanity. He has people’s respect even more. And please... even his teammates said it was all worth it. They have the rings to show for it.
Phil Jackson. I do not know of any coach who is like Jackson. He has the coaching chops and the personality, character and demeanor to deal with the likes of Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman. The latitude he gave Rodman alone while not losing him is amazing. And the coffee can burning (that I first read in David Halberstam’s book, "Playing for Keeps") was the perfect ending to the dynasty.
Dennis Rodman. While he seemed like a loose cannon, he brought a lot to those Chicago teams. Outside his game, he added so much pizzazz and personality. Imagine Pearl Jam, Carmen Electra and pro wrestlers like Hulk Hogan being a part of all this ride. The Bulls were like rock stars. Imagine during the 1998 NBA Finals, he wrestled with the New World Order in WCW, hit crucial free throws to help Chicago win a game, and went home with Carmen Electra. That’s a huge triple as any or three-peat in some odd way.
Scottie Pippen. Yes, his migraine episode and his checking out of Game Three of the 1994 Eastern Conference semifinals came to fore again. But the way he was beloved by teammates and the way he gutted it out in Game Six of the 1998 finals against Utah overshadowed that.
Steve Kerr. He replaced John Paxson’s role as a fireman on those Bulls teams, but his backstory, his eloquence and intelligence, his fight with Jordan, and huge shots reminded us oldies of his importance and showed today’s generation that he was bad ass. And he’s now a multi-titled coach that should usher him into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Carmen Electra. How does someone of that age look so good? And you have to love it each time she appeared on the documentary. She always had something quotable.
All the journalists and broadcasters who appeared on the documentary, from Rick Telander, JA Adande, Andrea Kremer, Michael Wilbon, Mark Vancil, David Aldridge, Willow Bay and Sam Smith among others for providing the insights surrounding the team. They were there. Smack dab in the middle or the fringes. That is priceless.
Jerry Krause. Unfortunately, he isn’t around anymore to defend himself, but even so, everything he said is on record and on film. There isn’t much to deny. It is a tragedy that he broke up the team before the run was truly over.
While he did receive some props from unexpected quarters like Jackson and Pippen, Krause, then as now, was the villain of the story.
Jerry Reinsdorf. No Teflon on the Bulls’ owner. He was complicit. He had fears that the Bulls would be like the late 1980s Boston Celtics, who crashed and burned.
By the time of the 1998 title, Ron Harper hit 34, Jordan was 35, Kerr was 33, Toni Kukoc was 30, Pippen was 33, Rodman was 37, and Bill Wennington was 35. At best, this team had a year more in them. Maybe two, but not more than that.
At some point, they would have needed to infuse a lot of young blood.
However, as we all know in basketball, you always get that chance to defend your title until someone takes it away. Twenty-two years since the end of "The Last Dance", the Bulls haven’t won anything.
Isiah Thomas. So much for being debunked on the series by his take that not shaking hands was the norm at that time. Then when the walkout happened, Thomas’ teammates Joe Dumars and John Salley stayed to shake hands with the Bulls. So much for team unity.
And all these years, he’s still steaming over not being a part of the Dream Team. History has not been kind to him.
Horace Grant. Three Bulls pointed to him as the source for Sam Smith’s book, "The Jordan Rules" — Jordan, BJ Armstrong and Will Perdue. Even if Armstrong thought that there were other sources, the fact that he was the only one named meant he was a snitch. Whether good or bad, teams do not like snitches. Ask the Houston Astros and Mike Fiers.
Imagine if Grant has stayed around for the second three-peat. He would be among the NBA’s greatest. Instead, he watched as Rodman stole the show and the Hall of Fame seat from him.