***This review/summary contains spoilers.***
Image courtesy of si.com
If you're a sports fan like me, and you're searching for some feel-good nostalgia, make sure you park yourself in front of ESPN each Sunday night at 8 p.m. to take in the drama that is Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls for their last Championship run in the 1997-1998 season.
The best part of this ten-part series is that it does not just focus on the season, but the back stories of the main players, Michael and Scottie so far. It talks about their childhoods, their path to the NBA, their beginning years, their struggle with management, and all of the things that fans don't see behind the lines. The drama on the court is just half of what I thought I wanted. Michael talked about how in his rookie year in 1984 he entered a hotel room where about half the team was in there with lines, weed and girls. He said he turned around and walked right out because he knew if the cops were to raid the place, he would be caught in the act just for being there. He said he still lived in a meager apartment with his mom then so he could only concentrate on the game. I found this fascinating for someone who went on to win the Rookie of the Year title that year and was already the best player on the team.
If you missed last night's showing of the first two episodes, you can replay the episodes here. The next episodes will play every Sunday night at 8 p.m. on ESPN.
Some other points that I found particularly interesting in the two episodes on Sunday night were as follows:
*Michael was limited to playing seven minutes per game in the 1985-1986 season, even during a pivotal game against Indiana that would have guaranteed them a playoff spot. It appeared from the documentary that Jerry Krause wanted to both protect Michael and secure a lottery pick for the next year. When John Paxson hit the winning shot against Indiana, and the Bulls were celebrating in the locker room, the Bulls closed the door on an apparent angry Krause.
*Michael scored 49 points in game one and 63 points in game two against the number one seed Boston Celtics in the '85 playoffs, but it was still not enough to beat them. This showed me both how weak his supporting cast was at the time and just how superior that Celtics team was.
*Michael Jordan's father said that Michael's brother Larry was the better basketball player growing up.
*Phil Jackson called the 1997-1998 season the "Last Dance" because he and the team knew that this would be the last time they would all be together, so it would be their last shot at a championship.
*By not making his high school team as a sophomore, Michael Jordan only practiced that much harder for the following year. His mom said that she didn't think there was a moment that the ball didn't leave his hand that summer.
*Scottie Pippen grew up in a poor family of 12, where his father and brother sat in a wheelchair in their house. He needed to get out of their house and that environment, so he played basketball every day.
*Scottie Pippen started on his college team as the equipment manager, but after a couple of players dropped off the team, a spot opened for him. He grew from 6'1 to 6'7 over the course of his college career, but still played like he was a guard.
*When he was announced fifth in the draft, Scottie Pippen was called forward as "Scott Pippen."
*Scottie Pippen was originally drafted by the Seattle Supersonics, but traded up by the Chicago Bulls.
*Scottie Pippen was the 122nd highest paid player in basketball, and his contract didn't expire until the 1997-1998 season. Jerry Reinsdorf claimed that he shouldn't have signed the deal.
*When the 1997-1998 season rolled around, Scottie Pippen was so upset over his contract that he decided to not start his rehab on his foot over the summer, but begin it during the start of the season. Michael Jordan felt like this was selfish on his part. Phil Jackson did not.
*Scottie Pippen demanded to be traded after hearing that Jerry Krause didn't think it was out of the realm of possibility that he would trade Pippen.
*It was said that one of the hardest decisions that Jerry Krause had to make was trading Charles Oakley for Bill Cartwright. Oakley and Jordan were good friends, and Oakley always stood up for Jordan on the court.
*With Scottie being out, Michael Jordan rose to a new level at the start of the 1997-1998 season. He consistently yelled at players in practice and pushed them harder than ever before.
*The Bulls started 4-4 in the 1997-1998 season and 0-4 on the road. While facing the lowly LA Clippers, they were forced to two overtimes, and it was only because of Jordan's magnificent play that they won their first road game.
*Magic Johnson said that Michael Jordan was the most talented player he had ever seen.
Do you have a favorite moment from the documentary? Share it in the comments section on the home page.