Miguel’s Friday Thoughts: The Last Dance

No, this is not the last post of my blog haha. It’s MFT! Miguel’s Friday Thoughts. On today’s edition, I’m going to talk about the first two episodes of the documentary, The Last Dance. Based on the 1997-1998 Chicago Bulls.

The impact of the Coronavirus cancelled all sporting events. The main focus in sports for this week is about the Chicago Bulls of the 90s. I find this documentary very interesting because everytime you talk about the Bulls of the 90s, you think about the championships. However, this is a little different because the Bulls allowed a camera crew to follow them throughout the 1997-1998 season. We get to see more of the behind the scenes from the players and coaches to the front office. The first thing I will talk about is the General Manager Jerry Krause.

Jerry Krause did a great job in getting Michael Jordan more help. In 1987, he was responsible for bringing in a rookie Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant and hired Phil Jackson as an Assistant Coach, who later went on to become the head coach. Krause does deserve some credit for building a successful team, but at the end of the day, the players need to go out in the court and perform.

What caused the demise of the Bulls? Jerry Krause is No 1 on that list.

His insecurities got the better of him. As I watched this documentary, there’s a video of Krause staring down Michael Jordan as Jordan is entering the team bus. It looks like he didn’t like his own players. These players led by Jordan were responsible for bringing six championships to that organization. Krause had the nerve to say “Organizations win championships.” No, organizations can play a part in that, but it’s the talent of players that takes the team to the promise land. Krause’s strained relationship with Phil Jackson was the start of their downfall. Michael Jordan had mentioned that he won’t play for another coach besides Phil Jackson.

If you’re Krause, why would you let Phil Jackson go? If you’re Jerry Reinsdorf, owner of the Chicago Bulls, how did you let this happen?

I’m not a Bulls fan, but it really ticked me off when I heard Krause tell Phil, “I don’t care if we go 82-0, you’re gone.” How can you be so selfish? I understand that they were getting old and at some point they were going to rebuild, but this Bulls team was good enough to come back and possibly four-peat. Also, this would’ve been a great challenge for Phil Jackson to coach a rebuilding team. If you look at Phil Jackson’s coaching history, he never had to coach a rebuilding team. Regardless of the situation, Phil Jackson would get his revenge as he would go on to win three straight titles (2000-2002) with Shaq and Kobe.

Scottie Pippen is a very underrated player. He’s one of the Top 50 greatest players ever. After Michael Jordan’s first retirement, Scottie Pippen was the second best player in the NBA after Hakeem Olajuwon. In the 1993/94 season, he averaged 22.0 points per game, 8.7 rebounds and 49.1% field goal percentage. He led the Bulls with a 55-27 record finishing 3rd in the MVP voting and 4th in Defensive Player of the Year voting. When Jordan returned, he was their second best player and led every category except points per game.

Despite the success, Pippen was criminally underpaid and undervalued. He was the 6th highest paid Bull and the 122nd highest paid player in the league for the 1997-98 campaign. Scottie was getting paid like a 6th man on his own team. A man that gave you his blood, sweat and tears, was making only $2.8 mil that season. If it were in today’s NBA, Scottie would’ve gotten the max contract. It made me feel bad for him to see the way the front office treated him. The front office was also trying to trade him. As Michael Jordan would say on the documentary, “Whenever they speak Michael Jordan, they should speak Scottie Pippen.” Jordan almost looked emotional when he said those words. Jordan was also underpaid in his last years with the Bulls, making $33 mil.

When I think about Michael Jordan, two words come to mind: winning and drive. I love that in this documentary we see more of his college years at North Carolina. He had no fear of the big moment since he hit the game-winning shot against Georgetown in the 1982 NCAA Championship. He was only a Freshmen. Jordan loved to win.

As a young player with the Bulls in the 80s, management wanted to tank in order to get a decent draft pick. This was the beginning of a fractured relationship between Jordan and the front office. Jordan refused to tank. He wanted to make the playoffs. He wanted to keep that energy going in Chicago and he certainly did.

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