Our Take on The Last Dance – Part 1
Our Take on The Last Dance – Part 1
ESPN’s original documentary on Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls dynasty, The Last Dance, is historic. It’s a step back in time, a peek behind the curtain and an emotional ride with every buzzer-beater.
I loved every single second of it – all 10 glorious hours re-living the playoff runs to the finals and catching those glimpses of greatness. I loved it so much I had to hop on here and talk about it. I gathered a few friends to discuss what we heard on The Last Dance, from Michael Jordan himself, his coach, his mom, his teammates, media, and team owners.
Enjoy episode #67, catch the sequel next week, and find other episodes of Hustle & Pro.
- [01:30] Episode 1 – Jerry Krause
- [09:10] Rookie Aspirations
- [12:45] Episode 2 – Pippen
- [13:15] The hold out
- [19:10] Jordan sibling rivalry
- [23:40] That fight inside Michael
Resources within this episode:
- The Last Dance on ESPN
- Chad Brown: Bio | Instagram | Twitter
- Fred Hammond | Countdown 2 Escape | Linked In | Facebook | Instagram
- Kelly Walker: Instagram @kelly_walkertexas | Twitter: @kelly_walker_TX
Connect with Lifestyle Frisco:
Welcome to Hustle and Pro season two, talking sports in Frisco from youth to pro. Now here’s your host Kelly Walker.
Welcome to a special edition of Hustle and Pro. So today we’re not highlighting a specific guest and telling somebody’s story so much, but we’re pulling a few friends in to talk about the last dance. So we’ve got Chad Brown, one of our favorite Texas Legends players, and we’ve got Fred Hammond. He’s a local business owner, but also a huge sports fan. So hey, Chad and Fred, how y’all doing today?
Doing good. Doing great to be with you. Absolutely.
Okay. Y’all ready to jump in. Let’s talk about this. There’s 10 hours of the last dance documentary of the Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan. Um, we’re going to go through kind of episode by episode, so we don’t miss anything that we want to point out. Um, I guess just off the top, it’s not, I originally kind of in my mind thought, Oh, the Jordan documentary, but I don’t know about y’all, but I was really excited when it, it sort of was breaking down each episode with like different player highlights and, um, so that we could learn more about me. Of course, we all want to learn about Jordan, but it was cool to see like the teams getting put together and broken apart and, and like different player and personality and coach, you know, aspects of that whole like team dynamic. Right? Yeah. Alright. So it’s kicked off with episode one. Um, it kind of introduced like the whole thought process, I guess, behind why this is even called the last dance. So it was with Jerry Krause, um, really show what they showing the rocky relationship with Phil Jackson. And he’s the one who really said that like, even after the bulls have won all these championships, I guess they were at five at that point that this is going to be the last season, the last dance. And so that’s kind of where we get that. Um, so let’s see, let’s jump in. I mean, first of all, who’s who thinks Jerry Krause is a genius and kind of like that best GM that I think Pippin even gave him that title at the very end of this, or was he like a cancer and kind of ruined this team?
So I think Jerry Krause was a genius. He set it up is that there’s no tomorrow, there’s no next season with you guys. It’s one chance make the most of it. And the players rallied around that realizing there may not ever be this opportunity again, so, and it proved to be successful.
Right, right. Right. For sure. And I totally agree with that. Um, you know, I definitely believe that, you know, like you said, it was no reason to, you know, say that at the beginning of the season, um, you know, it is a business at the same time, you know, with decisions and things like that as a GM. But like you said, man, you, you have the best player in the world. You know, you have to, you know, if you, if you got to, you know, tie some strings or you got to, you know, do what you gotta do, you know, as a GM to keep your coach, you know, you have to do that. You know, you, you gotta, you guys have won five championships, you know, why not, you know, means, um, so, so I believe that, you know, Jerry Krause, um, I can’t, I don’t, I can’t say anything bad about him.
Um, because you know, he, he did his job, you know, he got the team together, um, in the best way that he could. Um, but you know, like personally me, I just feel like, you know, you got a good team like that. You guys been winning championships, you know, uh, the legacy starting to build for Chicago, you know, they’re, they’re starting to become that dynasty, you know, Lakers and Celtics dynasty. Um, you know, I feel like you have to do whatever it takes to keep that thing rolling, man. You know, so it’s, it’s tough. It was tough. You know, like I said, at the end of the day, you know, it was decisions and it’s a business, but you know, when you have opportunity like that, you know, you have to seize the moment and you gotta do whatever it takes.
I know. Right. It seems like there was so much left on the table. Okay. So the thing about Krause is Jerry Reinsdorf was told, he said that he was told when he asked around, before he hired him, everybody in the league said, don’t touch this guy yet. Yeah, of course. He still does it, which that happens in sports all the time. Sometimes when everybody says don’t touch this guy, it’s almost like tempting to, for some of these owners and people to go get them anyways, just to maybe prove that, Hey, you know, I can, I can change him or he’ll be fine here. Or he won’t disrupt us or whatever it is, we see that all the time, especially living in the land of the Dallas Cowboys. Right. Um, but I thought that was interesting that he did it anyway. And then this guy ends up being like, kind of like internal, like, um, what do you call it? A locker board material that motivates the team like he’s in, in internally, he’s in, on their side yet he ends up being like the thing that the team can like use as motivation.
It’s kind of the opposite that when you think of a manager, you think of someone that inspires and leads, he actually inspired and led them through their discussion with them or not, not liking them or not respecting them. Maybe that’s the word.
Yeah. Yeah. I totally agree. I believe that, you know, they gave them motivation, but like you said, not in a good way, it kinda gave them a chip on their shoulder, um, towards their GM in a way to, to prove them wrong, you know, to prove them wrong and be like, Hey man, we need to stick together. And this is the team to do it. And you know, we’re trying to build a legacy, build a dynasty and you know, so I feel like, you know, he gave the motivation, but like we all say, you know, it might’ve been in a negative way because of the situations and the decisions that, you know, he was going to make towards the team, um, in due time. So I believe that, um, the, you know, the motivation for those guys, whereas was from him, you know,
Could have been directed a little better though. Like I couldn’t watching some of the digs Jordan would take and some of the stuff he would say to him, I mean, like I can, I can’t imagine. I’m guessing Chad, you, cause you got, you got Donnie Nelson, right. And you got people like that around you. Like, can you imagine making, making fun of him in such like, uh, like a derogatory way and like thinking you can say whatever you want to hit, that’s crazy to me, diet pills and you’re fat and short.
Be held accountable for it. Um, I want to say that, um, the, the, hold on, let me think. I want to say that one of the jokes that Jordan was saying was he asked crowds to be one of them practice with them. And he was like, Oh, well we might have to re, um, lower the rim or something for you because you probably can’t shoot the ball into the tip would hoop or something like that. It’s just, like you said, it’s crazy out, you know, a player can, can talk to their GM like that. And things like that. Like me personally, I can never see myself talking to, you know, Donnie Nelson like that, or, you know, anybody like that because you know, those guys, man, you know, they, they make decisions and you know, they, they, they put everything together, you know, but you could just tell that, you know, the, the, the relationship that they had wasn’t as tight, you know, because, you know, I, I, in a way they, they didn’t agree with them. They didn’t agree with things that he was saying. So, you know, it’s, it’s hard, it’s challenging, you know, when you have a GM and you have a person that, that owns everything and that makes the decisions and you don’t agree with them, you know, this tough and, you know, you lose their respect a little bit for them.
For sure. That’s the thing, those digs he was taking it, wasn’t in good fun. It wasn’t like they were closed and it was, you know, making fun of your brother or something like he was, you didn’t like him. Um, so they also talk in this episode about like young Jordan days, like, um, I think his mom talked about a letter. He wrote home from North Carolina saying like he was out of money, he’s down to last 20 bucks or something and needed some money or something and yeah. Which is crazy to say, yeah, yeah. That he just like, he, you know, can’t pay his bills and then little, little did he know then what his life would unfold to be, but, and then, and then he talked about, um, so he was drafted in ’84 and he, I think it was him on screen talking about when he was drafted, that he just wanted the Bulls to be a respected team. Um, cause at that point, you know, it was the Celtics, it was all these other teams and, and, you know, he was kind of the bottom. He felt like he was getting drafted by bottom team. And so interesting that that’s like what he put out there and put on his. And so like, Chad, I’m interested from your perspective as the guy who just finished their rookie season after college. Like, do you, can you imagine putting that much kind of like personal, I don’t know, goals on yourself to like make a franchise change their, their whole attitude or not attitude, but, um, reputation.
Right, right. And, and, you know, and, um, you know, when Jordan came out of college, you know, getting drafted and going to a team like that, you know, it just shows, you know, this confidence in himself, you know, it shows the confidence in the self and what he believed that in due time where he can do to a team. And it just shows that, you know, like I said, he was confident, he was, he was a guy that, that stood firm on what he believed and, you know, and personally for me, you know, that’s, that’s, that’s, that’s pretty impressive. That’s pretty impressive. You know, for being a rookie, a person that young, you know, coming into the league, um, with those types of goals is impressive. You know, when you, when you come into the league or you, you start playing pro your first year, you know, I personally, you know, me, I, my goal was, you know, I wanted to win, you know, I’m a competitor, I love to win. Um, but when you come in as a rookie, you know, you kind of want to just, you know, find your niche and find your way, you know, as, as a pro.
And like, do your part, like as well, I say, like, I’m going to clarify my role. I’m going to do my job the best I can to help this team out, but rarely do I hear any of you guys say, I just want to make this, this franchise different.
Right, right, right. And this, this is challenging because you know, you come in, you know, you just, you’re trying to find your way. You’re trying to have, you know, your personal goals in a way and stuff like that as a rookie. And, you know, for, for a guy, you know, for a guy to say that he wants to change a franchise, you know, as a rookie, you know, getting drafted to, you know, they, you know, one of the lower teams in the NBA at that time, you know, that’s, that’s impressive. You know, it just speaks volumes of his, just his commitment and dedication and, and his confidence that he had on herself.
Yeah. Like you said, the confidence. Yeah. Cause most people just aren’t, they’re not, they’re not have that vision at that time, obviously getting that. All right. Any other episode, one notes that you guys have that you want to throw out there before I move on to episode two.
No, they all run together. I know I had to.
They do. I mean, it’s just, you know, speaking of, you know, it was just like you said, Oh, I want to like piggyback off what you said. Um, you know, how, how, how the team kind of got together, you know, and, and the strides that they had to take, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s pretty impressive how, you know, it takes a long time. It takes the time. It takes a long time to build a team, to build a dynasty, you know, and, you know, I feel like with all those players and the coaches and the whole organization, you know, it was some bumps, it was some bumps that they had to take, you know, and, and I believe that, you know, in due time that they were able to, you know, succeed, but I feel like overall, you know, episode one was showing the, the ways that they had to do it and the bumps that they had to take in order to get it done. So, um, I believe that episode one was, was great. A great intro, um, starting about how the legacy and the dynasty built and, um, I feel like it was, it was great.
Yeah. Okay. So that’s a good transition though. And episode two, so it’s a Pippen episode and then some, but I mean, that’s really what it was focusing on. And so talk about bumps in the road, um, which is cool that they went back and sort of showed us like Pippen’s background a little bit like the, he was a smaller guard in high school and then his growth spurt, um, to 6’7, I think made him really unique and like a, a totally different player tool, um, to have those skills. Um, but then get so big. So they talk about in this episode, his ankle surgery, then the end of the ’96, ’97 season and how he kind of, you know, he waited until the beginning of the next season instead of having his surgery at the end of the season, or, you know, using his off season. So like, again, it goes back to the Jerry Krause issues and he was really sticking it to back to this team because of contract issues. Man, I think now when that stuff happens today, your fans turn on you. They didn’t talk about how anybody really turned on him. I mean, maybe some team stuff, of course, Jordan, with this point, didn’t have him out there. But like, if that happened today, first of all, we’d all know about it because everybody would talk about it on social media and you know, crazy finding out that stuff. But don’t you think now he would have pissed everybody off so bad taking that, taken that option.
Well, yeah, considering you signed a contract that the general manager told them, you probably don’t want to sign this long a contract. He said, I want to sign it. I think he referenced his poverty growing up, references mom and dad’s health. I think his dad had some real issues and he said, I want the security of the longterm money. And then when the market changed and his value went up tremendously, he took out his frustration about signing the contract that he was counseled not to sign by the guy signing the contract. It’s a great deal for the Bulls but he signed it and then he takes it out on the Bulls. One saying, Oh, well, I’m not gonna, I’m gonna wait and kind of punished you guys because of the actions I did, which I felt was very selfish. And, um, yeah, I would be pissed too right now. If I was watching that happen in Dallas with a player, it’s not like they crammed them down, they franchised them. And he, he got cornered into a deal that he could have gotten 40 million bucks. And he only got one line. I mean, that’s not the situation he chose that contract and had to live with the repercussions.
Right, right. No, I totally agree. You know, I felt like Pippen, you know, I felt like he felt a little bit of disrespect, um, in that time. Um, cause you know, Jordan was getting all the attention, all of the spotlight and, you know, Pippen, Pippen was a good player. You know, Pittman was, you know, he was, you know, right by Jordan, Jordan was number one, he was number two, you know, and then, you know, it’s tough that, you know, he just, he felt disrespected and, and I felt like, like you said, I felt like it was definitely a, uh, a, a bad move, a bad move for him. Um, you know, just for his name. Um, he was always known as a winner competitor, which he still is, but you know, just, just doing that, you know, I felt like it was, it was definitely selfish of him to do that for the team, for the organization. Um, because you know, man, no, no matter what, you know, you gotta play through adversity, no matter, you know, a person might say this and then show you the second best player and this and that. It doesn’t matter, man. As long as it’s about winning, it’s about building a legacy. It’s about building a franchise for the organization. And no matter what people say or anything like that, you know, you have to put that aside because at the end of the day you have to do your job and it’s all about winning, you know? So I like, I agree with you. I feel like it was some smooth. Um, but you know, everybody has that, you know, it’s human nature, human nature to feel a certain way, you know, when a guy’s getting an attention and you, and you feel good and your competitor as well. So, you know, it’s, it’s human nature at the same time. So.
Yeah. I didn’t think it was a good look when he said he wanted to enjoy his off season. He didn’t want to miss out his off season being rehabbing. So he, you know, delayed it. I thought it definitely was a selfish, but he redeemed himself. Right. We see an episode 10 when he is fighting through, he could have easily bailed with injury. His back hurting. You could have easily said, I’m out. I’m just, it hurts. You bad, this and that. Cause he had that out. He was off the court. He could have stayed off the court, even though we saw this whole ankle thing happened early. He, you know, he gets some plenty of bonus points later on, I guess.
Yeah. Yeah. He gets redemption. He definitely gets the redemption.
Yeah. So the guy was count. Scotty was counseled not to sign the contract or that length of contract because of exactly what happened. The market changed. There was a lot more money in the, and had he signed a shorter deal. He would have been rewarded, but he was concerned about his welfare and his long term, uh, wellbeing and his family’s wellbeing because his father’s, um, sickness as a kid, he just didn’t want to take any chances. But when the market did turn, then he was upset about it because he lost a lot of money, left a lot of money on the table and he took it out on the bulls and punished, not only them, but his teammates by, by electing not to have the surgery when he should have. But the counterpoint to that was Jerry Krause could have been a good GM and renegotiated and been fair with him on his current market value to make them happy and keep him motivated and not punish the bulls like he did. So.
Yeah, for sure. I mean making it right just to make them happy and, and make the longterm, but obviously that did not pan out the way it could have, obviously. Okay. So in this episode, we also, this part is my favorite that we, um, we get to see Jordan’s like relationship with his brother and his dad start, um, well not, I mean, it didn’t start in this episode, but they show how, when you go back and look at like the rivalry and the competitiveness he had with his brother is, and then he said, he just, he knew he always needed his dad’s approval. So that’s a common theme throughout the whole documentary. But you know, he talks about like fighting with those that you love. And sometimes you fight more with your sibling than you do a stranger. You would say things to them, you would work harder to beat them at different things. And so like, I guess my question is, do you think having the sibling rivalry that he had with his brother? I think it was Larry I’m like, is that a legit piece of what made Jordan who he was competitive wise?
I think he’s kind of had it inside him. I mean, I’ve coached kids with FC Dallas and I’ve said, hey, you gotta go for the ball. You gotta be more aggressive. And they might have all the skill in the world, but if they don’t have all the will in the world, it doesn’t really matter. So I kind of think it was innate. I think that the two probably had the same sort of drive Jordan had there to be a professional athlete, but just the two being sibling siblings and both having that drive just naturally probably led out to some really, like they said some ferocious battles.
Right, right. I totally agree. Um, I definitely believe that, you know, his brother, uh, motivated him. Um, and I can speak this on this personally because you know, I have a twin sister that actually, so we grew up together, um, competing on the court. I, and um, and I can say our battles, even though, you know, she was a girl, she was, she was spicy she’s she’s the girl meet, you know? So, so she was intense and, and wanting to win and, and the motivation and the drive. So, you know, just speaking on my experience, you know, having that sibling and having those, those rivalries, um, makes who you make sure, you know, it makes you, you know, it makes who you are, um, as a player and it helps you, um, because you have somebody that pushes you every single day and doesn’t care about your feelings.
It doesn’t care about, Oh, I might be tired or, you know, they, they don’t care about that because they want to beat you as well. And that brings that competitive drive out of you. And, um, so I can definitely say that him and his brother, those, those, those battles definitely made Jordan who he was, because it made them not want to lose and against anybody, if you don’t want to lose against your, your siblings and your brothers and sisters or your family members, you definitely don’t want to lose against somebody that you don’t know. You know what I’m saying? Like somebody that you’re not close to or another team, you know, you don’t want to lose to that.
So yeah. They didn’t earn that that, right. Yeah. Right. Exactly. So some of the stuff that we start to see at this point too, is how, like that fight in him. Sure. He talks about with his brother, like competing, but what it was interesting to me is all the little ways that we saw that through like, with other players, meaning like, I think it was in an Olympic practice when he went at it with magic and it was at a team practice with Steve Kerr and it’s like one comment and it says off and that’s like, but I feel like he needs that. He waits for something to open up to like just piss him off enough to be like, okay, that’s it. I’m going to go beat you. But it happened. So also besides Steve Kerr and then they get over it. Right. And what Reggie Miller, that was a longterm one.
Um, so then he also said like, when Carl Malone won the MVP in ’97, like it set him off to make him go play better. Um, there was a, there was a rookie at the end, Byron Russell, you said something like, why’d, you quit. And like something that he didn’t intend to make him mad, but Michael said it put him on his list. Like it just, you know, and then Isaiah Thomas, there was a whole other one too. They didn’t shake hands after a game. But like these little things that he pulls out, like as a reason material for him to focus, not that he even needed to play better, but when sometimes he did. Right. But then you guys think that was super interesting to see how he would take the smallest comment or action and use it.
Yeah. I think Michael Jordan loved not just competing, but destroying people like Byron Russell had no idea that he would face him in game six in the NBA finals. And Jordan was like, I’ve got you now and I’m not going to just beat you. I’m going to win the NBA championship as you slide away. And I hit a jump shot and I walk off with the trophy. And I think there’s something about Jordan that has like an assassin mentality. It’s not just that I’m going to compete, but I’m going to compete and personally destroy you and humiliate you not publicly, but it’s just like this obsession to crush you and whatever, whatever he’s, you know, whenever you’re facing him, he just wants to destroy your inner being, not just, Hey, I won, you lost good game. Now I destroyed who you are. And it’s like that, that’s the way I felt when I watched this.
Um, you know, I could definitely say that, you know, uh, being a competitor, um, it makes you, you know, it’s, it’s, you love it. You love it. You love winning. And you love knowing that the person that you just played against loss, um, I could speak on that a little bit, you know, even in practice, you know, with him and Steve Kerr, you know, got into it until that moment, you know, teammates are going to fight, you know, it happens, you know, when you try to build something and you know, and both guys are great competitors, you know, that’s going to happen. You know? And the biggest thing about being a team is that, you know, you can fight amongst each other in practice, but when y’all get on the court, I guess, a different team, you know, we’re going to war together. So it’s just the preparation for the war, you know? And, and, you know, sometimes, you know, there’s going to be conflicts and things like that. And, you know, that’s, that’s, that’s the nature of the sport, you know, and, and even playing against somebody, man, it’s like, like you said, you know, that he wanted to let him people know that he was going to destroy them. And I can remember that. Um, even in the episode, um, you know, when he, when they lost the magic, you know, uh, when he gained back out of retirement and lost to the magic and his strip coach was like, you know, take it easy, Mike, you know, take a couple of days. And you know, Mike said, you know, I’ll see you tomorrow. You know, it was just in his mind that, you know, he lost in and it drove, it drove him, you know, every, every player, um, that plays sports, you know, they always have, you always have to have that chip on your shoulder when you play, you know, it’s just [inaudible]. That’s, that’s, that’s what athletes, that’s what we have to do. You know, you have to have something that drives you, whether it be a comment, whether it be something that I played with, did you know, I can’t, I can’t recall what the player name was, but I remember one of the guys said, you know, you know, Jordan even made it up, said, you know, good game, Mike made it up, you know, that drove him, you know, that drove Jordan. And, you know, even when, when BJ Armstrong, you know, hit that shot and was letting them know all of the face and stuff like that, you know, get Charlotte and, you know, just all those moments, man, um, you know, play here’s half something that’s going to drive them. And Jordan found anything to just get him going, you know, amazing.
He didn’t need much. I forgot about all that good BJ Armstrong footage and, and stuff. That was good. Another thing, I mean, we don’t have much time left on here. We didn’t hardly get into all these episodes yet. But another thing I wanted to mention y’all stake on is like how big of a player cigars in this whole thing. Right? Like, I mean, he was smoking cigars, like in the locker room, all kinds of footage, even in the present day interviews, which I don’t know when the actual, like current interviews took place. I mean, who knows what year that might’ve been a year or two ago? I don’t know. But he was always smoking a cigar, like what time that stopped when cigar, I mean, I don’t think you can do anything like that in a locker room for a quite a while. Right. I don’t know. Maybe whenever you stopped smoking on airplanes, but I just thought that was really interesting to see how much of a factor of cigar horn in his life.
Yeah, no, no, it was, it was crazy. I was, I was.
In the locker room footage. I’m like, I thought it was really interesting that he would separate himself so much in the locker room. I don’t know if that was later on in his career when he needed the extra security or if that was just his nature to just separate himself. But I don’t know. Did you guys think that was interesting that like he seemed like he would, um, I don’t know, it’d be doing his thing lounge in somewhere separate than the bulk of his team.
It’s like he needed to decompress and kind of just come off this high intensity of war and just kinda calm down, get his thoughts together, regroup, and then become a normal human again, as opposed to Superman or black Jesus or whatever he called himself. You know, it’s like this alter personality he had to leave and he had to become human again, I guess. Right.
I believe that, you know, with all the, everybody’s always in a space, you know, the media and the fans and players, you know, coaches asking them, you know, things, you know, the organization and, you know, I just felt like that was his time to get away. And like you said, to kind of like, you know, kick back a little bit, you know, kind of get his thoughts together. And like you said, become a human being, you know, just, just, you know, being a regular person. Yeah, yeah, yeah, absolutely.