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Michael Jordan | The Last Dance episodes 3-4: Winners and losers

For the second consecutive week, The Last Dance has gathered an incredible amount of attention. I...

Michael Jordan | The Last Danc...
Other Sports

Michael Jordan | The Last Dance episodes 3-4: Winners and losers

For the second consecutive week, The Last Dance has gathered an incredible amount of attention. It helps when you're Michael Jordan and you've got no live sport to go up against, but it also helps when you've got Dennis Rodman to talk about.

Here are the winners and losers from episodes 3 and 4.

Winner: Michael Jordan

A question we’ve been pondering for the past little while is: Why did Michael Jordan wait 22 years to allow filmmakers to make this much-anticipated documentary?

The answer is now clear. Having already claimed his crown as basketball’s GOAT, he figured the year 2020 would provide the best opportunity to seize the crown as the GOAT of memes.

Crying Jordan was so very 2009. 2020 is all about Bemused Jordan. 

His facial expression in response to Isiah Thomas talking about that walk-off at the end of the 1991 Eastern Conference finals was the screenshot that launched a million tweets. 1998 gave us The Shot, 2020 gave us The Look.

The body language says it all, but his words are pretty effective, too. “There’s no way you can convince me that he wasn’t an asshole,” said Jordan when asked about Thomas and the behaviour of the Pistons back in ‘91. 

The edit is always going to reflect positively on Michael Jordan during this 10-episode extravaganza, but he has given the producers plenty to work with. There was little to no beating around the bush when it came to Scottie Pippen’s surgery last week, and he took care of Thomas with zero hesitation this week.

Jordan also played the hits, dropping his “there is no 'i' in team but there is in win,” quote when it came to his relationship with Phil Jackson and Tex Winter. 

The NBA finals of 1991 provided Jordan the opportunity to tell us how he really did value the talents of his teammates, which was cute. John Paxson got his moment in the sun, and I hope you soaked it up because it’s the only game-winning performance from an individual not named Michael Jordan that we’re going to see all series long.

A more accurate representation of how Michael Jordan really felt about his teammates came in the story of the 1997 season. With Scottie Pippen out injured, Dennis Rodman recklessly got himself ejected in an early season game. 

Jordan’s response?

“Dennis leaves me out there by myself because Pippen’s not playing.”

Ah, there you are, Michael.

Loser: Isiah Thomas

In the year 2040, kids will ask “who was Michael Jordan and why does he look so bemused in that retro meme?” They will have to be told that Isiah Thomas is the man responsible for the highest eyebrow raise in the history of bemusement. 

Thomas is 58-and-a-half years old now. It is probably time he realised that the handshake embargo in 1991 was one of the most childish moves that a team could have pulled.

There is nothing that I can write here, however, that would do a better job than the description of the 1991 Pistons given by Horace Grant:

COMING IN 2021: ‘Straight Up Bitches,’ the sequel to ESPN’s ‘Bad Boys’ 30 for 30 documentary.

Winner: Dennis Rodman

Maybe playing hard to get is exactly how you gained the affections of Michael Jordan, because Dennis Rodman was certainly Jordan’s weakness. It is pretty incredible to think that Rodman got Jordan to even think any of these things:

“You don’t want to stay with the team in the middle of an NBA Finals run? No problem!”

“You want to go party in Vegas for a few nights instead? No problem!”

“You want me to go collect you from your hotel room after the party? No problem!”

Have we explored the possibility that Dennis Rodman hypnotised Michael Jordan? Did Madonna, or Carmen Electra, have a word?

Dennis Rodman was the man who found exceptions to the expectations of Michael Jordan, and for that reason he is a winner. His ability to put in a good shift in training the morning after a huge session was probably his greatest strength in this regard. A beacon of hope for all Junior B GAA stars out there.

Loser: Journalism

Once again, the vocation of journalism took a good old battering on The Last Dance.

Last week, we saw footage of Jordan in Paris, where a reporter asked: “Michael, what do you think of the Eiffel Tower?” 

This week, we saw a journalist keen to glean information from Jordan about the Scottie Pippen situation. He asked: “Are you tired of talking about Pippen and all that yet?”

I can think of a one-word answer, beginning with the letter ‘Y’ that might shut down that particular line of questioning, sir.

Winner: Ron Harper

If Jordan is the king of the 2020 meme, Ron Harper is the prince. Inexplicably, Harper was instructed not to guard Jordan for the crucial play that led to Jordan’s series-winning shot against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 1989 playoffs. His reaction in the Last Dance is instantly iconic.

Loser: Doug Collins

Doug Collins was set to be a winner this week. Jordan liked him, the entire organisation liked him and his interviews in The Last Dance came across pretty well. He’s a successful coach who honestly seems to be a nice guy. Even in dealing with his firing, it seems the documentary doesn’t damage his reputation too much.

That is, however, until this archive footage comes along and blows Doug Collins to pieces.

The most ruthless piece of sports broadcasting in the history of humankind.

Winner: Jerry Krause

Remarkably, after being savaged in the first two episodes of The Last Dance, Jerry Krause comes out of episodes 3 and 4 with his reputation enhanced.

Firstly, he is credited with hiring Tex Winter, the mastermind behind the Bulls’ triangle offense.

Furthermore, Krause gets the credit for identifying the genius of Phil Jackson and getting him in as assistant to Stan Albeck.

On a final note, we get to see him absolutely kill it with his dance moves on the private jet after the Bulls’ 1991 success. If this is The Last Dance, Jerry Krause has put in the Best Dance.

We should sound a note of caution, however. In horror movies, there tends to be a moment of reprieve often in the form of comic relief for a protagonist before they are brutally destroyed. This is Krause’s moment of reprieve. We have barely touched the story of 1998 and Phil Jackson’s departure. Something is coming, and it ain’t pretty.

Loser: Scott Burrell

One of the closing scenes from episode four sees Jordan, sitting across from Scott Burrell, roasting him on his off-court behaviour, at one point calling him “Dennis Rodman Junior”.

Who knows if anything he said was true, but Burrell is pleading with Jordan for him to stop running his mouth in front of the cameras.

“He never gets his sleep. Single man, and he thinks he can hang out all night,” says Jordan. “If he committed to one girl, it’s a lie. He’s out every night.”

Oh to be a fly on the wall of the living room of the happily-married Scott Burrell on Sunday night. Luckily for us, his wife is SportsNet New York reporter Jeane Coakley and she took to Twitter since the airing of the episode.

Michael Jordan: Putting relationships under strain from a distance of 22 years.

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