Last Dance Episodes 5 and 6 go back to take us through the Bulls second and third NBA championship. We also get a look at how Jordan became a huge marketing sensation, the Dream Team, Kobe Bryant, and the burden of being Michael Jordan, among other things.
Every week I will be recapping the episode with some of my favorite moments. Here are a few that stuck out:
Last Dance 5 – Air Jordan’s
Last night really gave us an inside look at how the Nike Air Jordan’s came to be. David Falk, Jordan’s long-time agent, walked us through it step by step, including his marketing strategy and thinking behind getting MJ to sign with Nike.
Faulk’s main objective was to get Jordan the creation and release of his own shoe line. The now famous “Air Jordan” name was Faulk’s idea, which is pretty money if you ask me. But, what do I know?
Two mini parts I loved from the shoe segment. First, per Faulk:
“Nike’s expectation when we signed the deal was that at the end of Year 4, they hoped to sell $3 million worth of Air Jordans. In Year 1, we sold $126 million.”
Second, it was Jordan’s mom, Deloris, that made him keep an open mind about the meeting with Nike because MJ was in love with Adidas.
Crazy to think about how different everything would be today if Jordan signed with Adidas over Nike. Can you imagine no Nike Air Jordan’s and the culture behind it? And, maybe there is no Nike today if MJ doesn’t sign with them? Both things are insane to think about. Luckily for us, we don’t have to worry about this topic.
Last Dance 5 – The Dream Team
The documentary showed how the Dream Team came together after the Bulls won yet another title. A topic of discussion, which is still prevalent today, was on the formation of the team. Was Isiah Thomas’ exclusion from the 1992 Barcelona Olympics all because of MJ?
They asked Jordan if he played a part in leaving Isiah off the team. While Jordan agrees on the fact that he didn’t like Thomas, and that the Pistons guard would have ruined the camaraderie of the team, he denies that he told anyone to leave off the roster.
We also got an inside look at the famous scrimmage that took place between the players in Barcelona. After the scrimmage, there was no doubt in everyone’s mind who the best player was in the league now, Jordan made sure of that.
There was also the behind the scenes look in episode 5 of Last Dance at how Jordan and Scottie Pippen took their Jerry Krause hatred to another level when the Dream Team faced off against Crotia.
At that time, Krause was infatuated with a young Toni Kukoc, which drew the ire of the Bulls tandem. Scottie felt underappreciated, one of the major themes of the doc, so Pippen and Jordan played doberman defense on Kukoc in their first matchup. Unfortunately, poor Toni didn’t stand a chance.
But, I will say, it was great to see that Kukoc earn their respect in a bounce back performance during the gold medal game.
Kukoc was a critical piece in the second Bulls’ three-peat. If you have not seen Toni aka “The Waiter” play, check out some of the videos I posted of him on Twitter @docksquad33.
I really hope we get to see Kukoc’s game on display a little more over the next few episodes.
While the first four episodes displayed Jordan as a God-like, mythical figure, last night’s episodes showed some of the dark sides of what came along with being so famous and popular.
The series touched on the release of Sam Smith’s book “The Jordan Rules”, which took some shots at Jordan’s image. The book detailed some of the things that went on behind closed doors at the Berto Center, like how Jordan used to go at teammates.
The episode also touched on the allegations of gambling problems that many have brought up through the year’s about Jordan. We also saw how his trip to an Atlantic City casino went down on the eve of Game 2 of the 1993 Eastern Conference finals, and all the scrutiny that came along with it.
The doc also touched on Jordan’s court appearance due to his relationship with “Slim” Bouler and the book ‘Michael & Me’, written by Richard Esquinas. Apparently Jordan lost money to both guys, and it came to the limelight during that time, which led to everyone questioning whether this was a “problem”.
So much so, that Connie Chung asked Jordan straight up during an interview whether he had a gambling problem. To which MJ replied, “No. Because I can stop gambling. I have a competition problem.”
On a side note, I loved the parts shown of Jordan gambling on the golf course and, of course, him playing (and losing) in Quarters to his long-time security guard John Michael Wozniak.
Wozniak’s shrug after taking Jordan’s money stole the show.
R.I.P. Mr. Wozniak.
Kobe Bryant’s Appearance
Everyone knows the late Lakers star wanted to “be like Mike” growing up and when he came into the league. But, seeing Bryant give voice to Jordan’s influence on him last night hurt, to say the least.
These words have stuck with me since the episode: “What you get from me is from him [MJ]. I don’t get five championships without him”
The episode also featured some great footage of Jordan talking trash about the young upstart in the Eastern Conference All-Star locker room before the game at Madison Square Garden.
It goes to show you that Kobe really did earn his idol’s love and respect when it was all said and done. Especially if you take into account Jordan’s tearful eulogy at Bryant’s memorial service.
Well, we’re 60% through the docu-series, and I can honestly say, Sundays can’t get here fast enough! Have a nice week everyone and stay safe!