The Last Dance ep. 5/6: Winners and Losers
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Winners

John Michael Wozniak: The best documentaries introduce unique characters into the public zeitgeist(translation Twitter). The long time Bulls security guard beat Jordan in a game of ‘quarters‘ and then hitting the goat with his own trademark ‘shrug’. Great stuff.

Jerry Krause: Large portions of The Last dance are devoted to shitting on Jerry Krause, he takes several L’s throughout the series, but there’s an evil genius to the man. Any player Krause praised, Jordan, and Pippen destroyed. Intentional or not he knew how to push his star players buttons. Poor Toni Kukoč never saw it coming.

Charles Barkley: A legion of Hall of Fame players were denied a title during MJ’s reign atop the basketball world. Barkley is near the top of the list. In the doc, Barkley chronicled his 1993 showdown with Jordan. Barkley was fantastic during the series and still lost because Jordan was better. It’s a glimpse into the futility of competing against Jordan was.

Kobe: Ultimately we are the losers because he’s gone too soon. Watching Jordan and his fellow Eastern All Stars talk about that “That little Laker boy” was a glimpse into the rise of Kobe. He burst onto the scene to the point he was the talk of a locker room full of grizzled Vets. Kobe later described his brotherly bond with Jordan. The knowledge of the tragedy involved is tear-inducing.

Deloris Jordan: Mama Jordan doesn’t have many scenes but the ones she does have are powerful. Her influence is a testament to how revered mothers used to be(still are????) in the black community. Jordan initially balks at the idea of signing with Nike but Mama Jordan tells him that it’s worth it to at least meet with Nike.

Losers

Adidas: The doc revealed the greatest advertising blunder in history. MJ wanted to sign with Adidas. Adidas didn’t want Jordan. The history of shoe brand and sports would look very different if Adidas was able to close a deal that knocked at their door.

Gambling: What a difference a couple of decades makes. Sheesh, gambling was viewed as touching the third rail back then? Admittedly if LeBron was owed gambling debts to shady characters under Federal investigation it would definitely raise a few eyebrows. Jordan’s reputation took a hit for walking into an Atlantic City casino or a golf course. The degen lifestyle isn’t mainstream yet, but it’s certainly more widely accepted now than it was then.

Patrick Ewing: Poor uncle Pat. Yet another victim of playing in the same era as Jordan. For Ewing, it began in college and continued into the pros. Also how many times did Jordan/Pippen put him on a poster with highlight dunk? Poor Pat.

Zeke: Everyone hates Zeke. Isaiah Thomas obviously belonged on the 92 Dream team, rumor has it Jordan didn’t want him on the team. Jordan denied it but come on? Jordan wasn’t the only one with a beef against Isaiah. Several of his potential teammates were lukewarm at the prospect of having Zeke as a teammate.

Jordan: Before the documentary aired Jordan said: “The Last Dance will make people think he’s a horrible guy.” I’m not sure if that happens but we see Jordan’s foibles clearly. He’s a bully and an asshole. That’s not the totality of who is but he possesses those two traits in spades.

Horace Grant: When everyone in your circle knows you’re a snitch it’s a bad look. Grant came off as jealous and bitter. It’s important to note that this story is told mostly from Jordan’s perspective, but it’s pretty bad when the best defense a teammate can come up with is that Horace wasn’t the only one.

Clyde Drexler: Sadly Clyde is the biggest loser of the night. As a young kid on the playgrounds, I remember the sentiment. Maybe Clyde is as good as Jordan and doesn’t get the publicity. In retrospect it’s silly but it was a real thing. Michael disabused us all of this notion in the 1992 NBA Finals. Drexler’s torture would continue as a part of the Dream Team. Jordan made it his personal mission to make it clear to Drexler that he was nowhere near his level.

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