ESPN aired the final two episodes of their revolutionary Michael Jordan documentary, The Last Dance, Sunday night. We saw Jordan capture his secondthree-peat, potentially get poisoned, and prove once and for all he is the Greatest of All Time.
5. Dennis Rodman…again
The Chicago Bulls returned home for the middle three games of the 1997 NBA Finals. They had split the first two games in the series in Utah. The games were tight, and it appeared the series would be the same way the whole time; the Bulls, for the first time in a long time, were at risk of losing. The series returns to Chicago and the Bulls win game three 96-54 — an absolutely ridiculous score-line for any game, let alone being in the NBA Finals against the Stockton and Malone-led Jazz.
The next day, however, Dennis Rodman stole the headline. Between games three and four, Rodman appeared at a World Championship Wrestling Event. He skipped practice and told nobody where he was until that night when he appeared with Hulk Hogan and became a professional wrestler. There is nobody else like Dennis Rodman; just imagine Draymond Green, Pascal Siakam or some other key star player leaving in the middle of the FINALS to wrestle. That would never happen today. Rodman had to sneak past over 300 media members when he returned. After practice he left the stadium through the main gates where fans enter. Also, think about how big of a slap in the face this was to the Jazz. Not only do you lose by a record 42-points, but the opposition goes to the WCW.
4. The Poor Jazz
The Utah Jazz made the NBA Finals two straight years in 1997 and 1998. Their team was absolutely stacked. Led by Hall-of-Famers John Stockton and Karl Malone, along with countless NBA-All Stars, the Jazz were one of the best teams in the league. Unfortunately for them, however, they just happened to meet Michael Jordan in their only two NBA Finals appearances in Franchise history.
In 1997 the Jazz had League MVP Karl Malone. The series was tied 2-2. Then came the “Flu Game” (more on that soon). The Bulls were up 3-2 heading into game six — another tight game that came down to the wire. Steve Kerr drilled a shot with five seconds left to win Chicago their second straight NBA title.
In 1998 the Bulls won in six games again. Coming into the series, the Bulls had not beat the Jazz all season. After five games, the Bulls led 3-2. Game six proved to be one for the ages. In quite possibly the greatest Finals game of all time, the Bulls won 87-86. Scottie Pippen got hurt the first play of the game and was in and out of action. Michael carried the team. With less than a minute left, Stockton hit a three to put the Jazz up 86-83 – almost guaranteeing a game seven in Utah. The next possession, Jordan glided in for a layup, narrowing the deficit. What came next was one of the smartest defensive plays in history. Jordan knew what play the Jazz were going to run and swiped the ball from Karl Malone. Michael shook Bryon Russell to win the series. In The Last Dance, MJ insists he didn’t push off of Russell despite it appearing like he did. But, frankly, anybody who has ever played basketball knows that Jordan didn’t push off. Bob Costas compared it to a maitre d’ escorting a customer to their table.
Flu Food Poisoning Game
MJ’s career is FULL of GIGANTIC moments – the free throw line dunk, the Finals win against the Jazz and the Flu Game. In The Last Dance we hear an entirely new side of the story. Jordan was playing cards the night before game five of the 1997 Finals. He got hungry, so a member of his crew found one pizza place open around 11 p.m. They ordered a pizza and five men delivered it. Jordan’s trainer and everyone else in the room refused to eat it because they felt like something was off. So, naturally, Jordan ate the whole pie by himself.
He woke up with food poisoning in the middle of the night and was sick to his stomach all day long. At every timeout Jordan chugged fluids, he looked pale, tired and fragile. But someway, somehow, Jordan came into form after a poor first quarter. He scored 38 points including a game-winning three.
Prior to Sunday night, everybody had thought it was the Flu for over 20 years based on his symptoms, how sick he looked and how sick he really was. However, MJ unveiled to everybody on Sunday night that his “flu” wasn’t actually the flu, it was food poisoning from a sketchy pizza delivered by five men to a Utah hotel room. While never directly mentioned in the documentary, it is hinted at that the pizza was poisoned or made to make Michael sick. We will never know if the pizza was the cause or not, but we do know that game five of the ’97 Finals is one of the best performances of all-time.
2. The Bulls might not have been the best team
In the finale of The Last Dance, we see Jordan and the Bulls face-off with Reggie Miller and the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals. Jordan says that in all of his years in the playoffs, other than the Pistons, who beat him multiple times before Scottie and Rodman came, these Pacers were the best team he faced. The team featured multiple Hall-of-Famers, including Miller, and were coached by Larry Bird.
These Pacers were stacked and, as Reggie Miller said they were, probably the best team in the East. In the 1998 Eastern Conference Finals the Bulls faced a game seven for the first time since 1992. The Bulls won game seven but failed to win a game on the road the entire series. This was something they would have to do to win the NBA Finals and cap off their second three-peat. They defeated the Utah Jazz, again, in the Finals. If Jordan wasn’t at his best, The Last Dance could have been over in the Eastern Conference Finals.
1. Nobody is Like Mike
He’s the greatest ever for a reason. Throughout the entire documentary we see why there is truly nobody like Mike. His mindset and work ethic are different than anybody to ever play. Try and imagine LeBron punching one of his teammates in the face — you can’t. Nobody will ever match Michael’s intensity, talent and will to win. MJ did something special every night he stepped onto the court. If we learned one thing from The Last Dance, it’s that there will never be another Michael Jordan. Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all-time.