Sports

“The Last Dance” Recap Part 2

See “The Last Dance” Recap Part 1 HERE.

Boom just like that, it’s time for The Last Dance Episodes 3 and 4. That’s right the quarantine weeks are getting faster!

Jumping right into the highlights…


Episode 3

Dennis Rodman

Michael Jordan and Dennis Rodman

After an early morning news report that was near disaster, Dennis Rodman was reborn as The Demolition Man. The transformation took place in 1993 after being traded from Detroit to San Antonio. In only two seasons with the Spurs, there were front office blow-ups, suspensions, motorcycle accidents, and eventually an off-season trade to Chicago. 

The trade to Chicago was nearly a mirage as Bulls GM, Jerry Krause once again tried to sabotage the Bulls. Assistant GM, Jim Stack had done his due diligence and had come to the conclusion that Rodman would thrive under the leadership of Phil Jackson, Michael Jordan, and Scottie Pippen. The trade was executed before the 1995-’96 season. The exchange was a back-up center (Will Perdue) for the Third-Team All-NBA Rodman. It must be assumed that some in the NBA had given up on Rodman, despite being in the midst of his prime (Quinn, CBS Sports). Rodman would win three championships in three years with the Bulls.

Some of the greatest moments from his highlight episode in The Last Dance?

Southeastern Oklahoma State University Savages

Yes, Dennis Rodman’s college team was called the Savages. There has never been anything more perfect. Though Rodman wasn’t yet The Demolition Man, the team’s name is a natural fit. Homeless for two years before enrolling at the NAIA school, Rodman fully committed to the university — rounding out his college career by averaging 24.4 points and 17.8 rebounds as a senior. In 1986, Rodman was drafted in the second round of the NBA Draft by the Detroit Pistons.

Dennis Rodman, Southeastern Oklahoma State University

Bumming a cigar from Michael

In 1997: While Scottie Pippen was out of the line-up due to his recent foot surgery, Michael Jordan had made it clear that Scottie Pippen needed to step up and play the second lead. Rodman was notoriously inconsistent, both, on and off the court. Early in the season, the Bulls were already in dire need of wins. One particular night, Rodman was ejected from a game. Jordan was livid. Rodman knew it. Everyone knew it. That night, Rodman knocked on MJ’s hotel room door — something he had never done before. The reason for the knock? To ask Jordan if he had an “extra cigar.” No apology was ever spoken, but Jordan has stated he knows this was Rodman’s attempt at one. It was at that moment that Rodman flipped a switch, and became the most dependable he had ever been.

Gary Peyton calls Rodman a “fuck-up person”

In one of the most bizzarre comliments I may ever hear, Hall of Famer Gary Payton refered to Dennis Rodman as a “fuck-up person” due to his innate defensive ability to fuck everything up for the opposing team.

Miller Lite

Most important thing I learned about Dennis Rodman through The Last Dance? He absolutely ripped Miller Lites whilst talking to reporters and fans in the arena tunnel. Now, I hate Miller Lite, but I can’t give this man enough props for this move. In 2020, we’re all whining about a pre-game glass of wine, but in the 90s… I’m willing to wager this wasn’t Rodman’s first beverage of the evening.

Dennis Rodman

Doug Collins

There are two great Collins moments in Episode 3, and no, neither of them are him being replaced by Phil Jackson.

Doug Collins

“Coach, I’m not going to let you lose your first game.”

Michael Jordan to Doug Collins on November 1, 1986

“Get the ball to Michael, everyone else get the fuck out of the way.”

Doug Collins on the final play of the game, Game 5 of the first-round of the NBA Playoffs in 1989

Yea, that’s pretty much it. We won’t pretend there was a whole lot going on in Collin’s storyline.


Episode 4

Dennis Rodman

48 Hours in Las Vegas

Remember when Dennis Rodman stepped up to take Scottie Pippens place as Michael Jordan’s wing man? Well there came a point that Pippen returned. It’s a good thing because that was about the time Rodman was burned out and ready for a vacation. That’s right — Rodman walked into Phil Jackson’s office and requested a vacation in the middle of the season. The best part? The decision whether, or not, to grant the time off was left to Michael Jordan. That’s how an agreement on a 48 hour vacation to vegas turned into a week long sabbatical that caused The Demolition Man to miss three games. Oh by the way… Rodman was sipping on some Miller Lattes in Vegas before cruising the strip on a motorcycle. Remember that motorcycle incident in San Antonio…

Rodman’s escapades in Vegas were accompanied by his then-girlfriend, Carmen Electra. In the days after episodes 3 and 4 airing, it was revealed that Rodman and Electra had taken part in other explicit activities at the Bulls’ expense (Tasch, New York Post).

Phil Jackson

Phil Jackson, 1989

We all know Phil Jackson is a little different. Maybe not Bill Walton different, but the guy is interesting. He’s a guy with a lot of interests outside of basketball — including Native American and other indigenous cultures. It probably goes without saying that Dennis Rodman and Phil Jackson run in different crowds. That doesn’t mean they can’t share interests.

Phil Jackson is quoted telling Rodman that in the beliefs of the Lakota people, Rodman would be known as “heyoka”, which is a term meaning “backwards walking person.” It probably goes without further explanation. This may be the only way to define the man that has has more hairstyles than we could count.

If you need further evidence of Jackson’s intriguing world, try this on for size. We learn (at least I did) that Jackson’s coaching career actually started in Puerto Rico. That’s right.

The mayor of a city that Jackson’s team was playing in was actually convicted of shooting an official in the leg. The punishment was bizarre as the crime itself. A suspension from remaining home games through the end of the season...

More Phil Jackson is surely coming as The Last Dance dives deeper into the 1997-’98 season and beyond.

Michael Jordan

Phil Jackson and Michael Jordan

Who knows what would have happened if Doug Collins had remained the head coach of the Chicago Bulls. Had Phil Jackson not taken the reigns, who is to say that Jordan would have six rings. Jordan gleaned so much from the relationship that he made it clear, that he would not be playing for anyone else in Chicago. He stuck to those guns.

It wasn’t until Jackson introduced the triangle offense that Jordan accepted that he had a supporting cast of capable players. There were early bumps, such as the time Tex Winter instructed Jordan to “Move the ball…there’s no ‘I’ in ‘team’”, only to be met with “There’s an ‘I’ in ‘win’.”

Eventually, Jordan accepted the transition. Scottie Pippen became one of the original point forwards — a position he was more accustomed and comfortable with. Despite agreeing to give up some of his possessions, Jordan made it clear that the idea of Bill Cartwright possibly ending up with the ball with an expiring clock was “fucking bullshit.”

Eventually the Triangle offense and a team-forward mentality (and some John Paxson contributions) led to Jordan and Bulls first NBA Championship.

“If you’re going to lose, you’re going to lose to them, and I’m going to  lose to Michael.”

Magic Johnson on losing the 1991 NBA Championship to Chicago

1997 – 1998

The Bulls were on a road trip to Salt Lake City to face their eventual Finals opponent — the Utah Jazz. Krause said that Jackson would not be back next year, and despite Jordan’s declaration that he would not play for any other coach in Chicago, Krause makes it known that the Bulls organization hopes to have Michael Jordan back — stating if he is not, it is by his choice.

*Closing Curtain*


Bonus

Colin and Samir’s Michael Jordan Documentary: The real reason you’re watching The Last Dance

Colin and Samir

Colin and Samir are filmmakers that I have been following on YouTube and Instagram since they were working at The Lacrosse Network, a company Samir started in 2012. In early 2019, they completely departed from the channel and committed to their own ventures — making documentaries with the Premier Lacrosse League, Paul Rabil, Adidas, Gatorade, and so on. They make weekly-ish videos explaining internet, pop culture, and media trends. They’re relatable and have a firm grasp on the landscape.

Colin and Samir produced this video on The Last Dance, more or less explaining why this was a great time for it, and who has interest in its performance. I won’t write a review or recap of their video because, well, they are far superior storytellers than I. But I will leave a few bullet points below, which outline some important notes from the video, as well as some thoughts they sparked for me.

  • Yes, the documentary is more, or less, a 10-hour ad for Jordan. No duh, Vice.
  • ESPN x Netflix — will we see these cable x streaming collaborations in the future?
  • Carole Baskin is off the hot seat.
  • Reese’s commercial during every break. This is the Super Bowl of quarantine.
  • I like shoes but tbh, the trendiest shoes I have ever owned are probably Ultra Boosts. I wish I was cool enough for a pair of Jordan 1s in an OG color way.
  • MJ is the GOAT. I wish I could have seen the competitive glimmer that Mike had in his eyes when he made the call to green light the series.

The Last Dance Part 3 (Episodes 5 and 6) Premiere Next Sunday, May 3rd at 9:00pm ET.