“The Last Dance” documentary episodes five and six, touched on Michael’s gambling problems, 1992 Summer Olympics, His Competitiveness outside of basketball, and Politics.
It was emotional at the beginning of episode five. The documentary touched on the 1998 All-Star Game, which featured Kobe Bryant. It was Kobe’s first All-Star appearance. It still feels surreal, and it still hurts that Kobe is no longer with us. During the interview, Kobe said a few things that stood out to me. He said, “Everything you get from me, it’s from him. Jordan’s guidance and advice helped me win five titles.” MJ and Kobe had a big brother little brother relationship. Kobe, may God rest your soul.
I love the fact that Michael Jordan didn’t avoid talking about Isiah Thomas about the ’92 Dream Team. He gave his Isiah by saying that he’s a great point guard. He noted that Isiah is the second greatest point guard behind Magic Johnson. However, there’s no love for Isiah from Jordan. By the looks of it, it’s clear he didn’t want him on the Dream Team. Isiah’s competitive nature rubbed many players the wrong way. Thomas should’ve been on the Dream Team, but everything happens for a reason.
1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. The battle between Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan in practice. Magic and Jordan had a very intense practice. They would talk trash to one another. In those days, it feels like practice were better than actual games because of the level of intensity between teammates and coaches. Of course, we can’t get away from talking about Bulls GM Jerry Krause.
Jerry Krause was a big fan of Toni Kukoc. Krause said that Toni Kukoc is the “Future of the Chicago Bulls.” Say what? Bulls are just coming off their second championship, and you said this? Kukoc was now the target in the eyes of Jordan and Pippen.
In the first meeting between Team USA and Croatia, a lesson was about to be learned. Before the game, Jordan told his teammates that Pippen and himself would be guarding Toni Kukoc throughout the whole game. Kukoc finished with just four points. Toni would redeem himself and played a better game in their second meeting. I respect Toni Kukoc for bouncing back and not be afraid of competing after being shut down by the league’s two best perimeter defenders. The USA Team won both meetings.
Jordan covering the Reebox logo on his jersey with the American flag is something I never knew until last night. Jordan represented Nike. He was not going to humiliate himself and his brand that way.
Jordan drew a lot of criticism for not endorsing Harvey Gantt, the African-American former Democratic mayor of Charlotte. Gantt would lose the election to Jesse Helms. Jordan grew up in North Carolina. During the interview, Jordan said that he doesn’t consider himself an activist or politician. Many athletes like Lebron James, Muhammad Ali, and the list goes on, were very outspoken about social issues. If you’re an African-American public figure, African-Americans want to see that person to use their platform to talk about social issues and anything else that’s going on with the African-American community. I understand where Jordan came from because not everyone likes to talk about politics or don’t have an interest in it.
Michael going to Atlantic City with his dad before Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals, brought so much media attention. The media were consistently on him about his gambling problems to the point he went silent. His dad had to speak for him. Jordan’s silence lasted until June 9, when he talked to Ahmad Rashad with sunglasses on. All the criticism motivated Jordan to perform. He brought the Bulls back into the series against the Knicks. Bulls won four straight games after trailing in the series 2-0.
Bulls went on to beat the Phoenix Suns in the NBA Finals and captured their third straight championship.