As The Last Dance 10 part documentary series nears its end, the story of the 1997 - 1998 Chicago Bulls team and what came before it enacts even more emotions as each passing moment gets told from the view of those who witnessed it firsthand.
While dominance may be the first thing we think of from the Bulls in the 90s, it took numerous ups and downs to get to ring number six for Jordan and the Bulls. From controversies off of the court to injuries suffered by key players, the Bulls were thrown countless obstacles their way from the basketball gods and the media too. However, there was one obstacle that not many saw coming, that took place after the Bulls completed their first three-peat in 1993: the first retirement of Michael Jordan.
Shortly after solidifying himself as one of the all-time greats, Jordan did the unthinkable and walked away from the game. The miles that three straight trips to the finals, plus the no-days-off mentality Jordan lived by (he treated every practice like it was a Game 7 in the Finals), proved tiring on his body. Jordan also desired to pay tribute to his late father by playing baseball, the game they both loved and bonded over growing up.
The sports world was shocked to see the league’s best player and most idolized player hang them up so early, but could you imagine what it would’ve been like if social media was around and as polarizing as it is today?
Luckily we have social media at our fingertips today, and the current players were all over it sharing their thoughts on number 23 shutting it down at the peak of his powers.
Picture it: the likes of LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo, or Steph Curry decide to hang it up after leading their team to the 2020 Championship. Could you imagine the thoughts that would be flooding all social media channels? Jamal Crawford had just the word that characterized the action Jordan took and what it would be like in today’s league “WOW!!!”.
After a year and a half break from the game, Jordan used a two-word fax (some may not remember fax machines, but that was a thing ha!) to shock the basketball world once again: “I’m Back”. While Jordan and the Bulls fell to the Orlando Magic in the 1995 playoffs, we got to see the hunger for greatness that Jordan had in his veins back where it belonged: on the court.
While we got to see the desire to be great from Jordan on the court during games, the real hunger and reason for those six rings came from the battles in practice he had with his teammates.
Jordan wanted to win in practice just as badly as he did with 18,000 screaming fans in an NBA Finals game. There were no days off for Jordan. It was about winning at all costs when he saw a challenge that included a basketball and a hoop in his way.
That unique fire that burned 24/7 for Jordan caught the eye of the current day players who grew up wanting to be like Mike.
Richaun Holmes, a promising young forward, was drawn to not only Jordan’s dominance in the playoffs but his desire to get better every day in practice too. We also agree with Richaun: “another documentary of straight practice footage” wouldn’t be a bad way to spend time during the quarantine.