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What we’ve learned only two episodes into the Michael Jordan ESPN doc

The first two episodes of the Michael Jordan ESPN doc and the 90s Chicago Bulls dropped Sunday, giving us sports fans a much-needed escapade from our current state of affairs, back into the mesmerizing world of athletics.

This was only the first two episodes out the 10 episode series, which will drop every Sunday for the next four weeks. Still, we were blessed with so much 80s, 90s, and Jordan content we can’t help but be immeasurably pleased.

Here are our biggest takeaways from the first two episodes of ‘The Last Dance.’


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Episodes 3 & 4 of #TheLastDance air next Sunday at 9 PM ET 🍿

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There is never-before-seen footage

Before the 1997/98 NBA season, the Bulls allowed a film crew into their facilities to document the season. For most people in or around the team, they knew this was it, the denouement of a dynasty.

Phil Jackson, after signing a one year $6 million contract to stay for the season, even coined the season ‘The Last Dance.’ General Manager Jerry Krause declared it was Jackson’s final season with the team, and Jordan didn’t want to play for any other coach.


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MJ knew it all 🧠

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Scottie Pippen was being paid coins on the dollar as one of the best players in the league, and after Krause refused to restructure his contract, Pippen sat out the first few months of the season due to injury, when he could have gotten surgery over the Summer.

The players hated the front office, and the front office wanted to prove it could win with any players, any coach.

During the Cavaliers championship parade in 2016, Jordan agreed to release the footage to the world (feeling the pressure from ‘Bron huh?). Seriously though, Jordan has been so powerful that they needed his consent to release.

In 97, tensions were high, internal conflict was brimming, and it was all being caught on tape. The pettiness from Jordan to Krause, the cars, and the fits; this doc is teeming with amazing content we have never seen before.

The Traveling Cocaine Circus

When Jordan got to the Bulls in 1984, the franchise was a mess. Chicagoans were Bears fans, they were Cubs or White Sox fans, they were even partly Blackhawks fans, but the Bulls were not on anyone’s radar.


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Baby 🐐 #TheLastDance

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Jordan recalls how during his rookie season he walked into his team’s hotel room one night and there were girls, cocaine, and weed. He bounced, recognizing the danger if they were caught. The Traveling Cocaine Circus, as the Bulls were called, was not a respected franchise.

Jordan sought to change that.

And he did. In his sophomore season, after recovering from a leg injury, Jordan scored 49 and then 63 points in back-to-back games against the would-be NBA Champ Boston Celtics.

Jordan had more than arrived. He had proven to his teammates he was the best player on their team. Furthermore, he had proven to Chicago that the Bulls were no longer the laughingstock of the league.

Jordan’s college years

Michael Jordan went to play college at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Under head coach Dean Smith, Jordan played in a system and was rigidly taught to care just as much about his studies as he did basketball. Jordan was a star on the Tar Heels, but he didn’t look like His Airness yet.

Jordan hit the game-winning jump shot in the 1982 NCAA Championship game against Patrick Ewing (who Jordan would beat his entire career) and Georgetown. After two more years at Chapel Hill, he would declare for the draft, off of advice from his coach.


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A true player’s coach 👏 #TheLastDance (via @jjwatt)

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The late, great Dean Smith is revered in Chapel Hill and in the basketball world. Without his influence on Jordan, who knows if the superstar would have become what he did.

If you had the chance to ask Smith though, of course, he would have.

The college years of the doc also showed us a letter Jordan wrote to his mother when he was at school, asking for money and stamps. To see a younger, more humble and less accomplished Jordan was fantastic.

There was wild tension with Krause

I touched on it a bit already, but General Manager Jerry Krause was not beloved by any means by his players and coaches. Krause was a short fat man, who wanted more credit for the dynasty than he got.

After the championship in 1997, Krause started talking about a possible rebuild with his star players getting up there in age. But as Jordan says in the doc, they had a right to defend their title, until it was taken away from them.

Krause felt unloved, unappreciated, and to rebuild another championship team in his image would have proved all the naysayers wrong. This is the root of a lot of conflict between management and players. Look no further than Belichick and Brady.

Krause caused unnecessary conflict by going to the media and making it known, organizations win championships, not players and coaches alone. He reeked of insecurity, and Jordan and Pippen bullied him for it. Fat jokes, short jokes, nothing was off-limits.

The contention on those Bulls teams is not known by everybody; they were six-time champs, right? What does it matter? This new footage shows how much strain is put on a championship team, the egos, the money, the fame. This was no normal team and front office – coach/players dynamic. It is absolutely fascinating to watch.

This documentary is absolutely special, and there are still eight episodes left.

This Sunday? The showdown between the Bulls and the Pistons, Jordan’s nemeses and a team he could never get by in their primes. Bring out the popcorn, the piff, the drinks; this is going to be so good.