Man, Michael Jordan.
I’m sure a lot of you are caught up on the eight episodes of “The Last Dance” that are out there now. It remains a fascinating look at the sports condition through the prism of one NBA season and the depth it gets to is truly amazing.
But Jordan is the centrepiece, the reason the 10-hour documentary exists. It’s nothing without him as the heartbeat, of that there can be no question.
We can delve deeper into the total package of the show when it’s over because the bits of that NBA Finals that are coming will be fascinating, trust me on that. I covered it start to finish and it’ll be nice to relive some of the moments, the flu game and the incomprehensible fact that an NBA team scored 54 points – FIFTY FOUR – in an NBA Finals game.
But more on that later.
Episode 7 that came out last night was probably the most gut-wrenching and revealing of the whole series for the look it gives behind the Jordan curtain.
How driven he was. How mean he could be. How cutting, demanding, spiteful.
The end was, well, emotional, the most emotional minute of the series so far, I’d suggest.
What it showed, I think, is the difference between all the others and Jordan.
There have probably been players with at least close to as much raw talent over the years. There have no doubt been players who have been on teams with as much talent as Jordan’s had, who were coached by a master psychologist like Phil Jackson was.
But Jordan’s drive, his ability and willingness and, yeah, his need to find whatever he found so deep in his soul that made him like he was, is a singular trait that I don’t think any other athlete has ever had.
He was mean and biting and hard. It was almost like he couldn’t stop himself and he knew it. And didn’t really seem to care.
It’s what allowed him to ascend beyond all others and if feelings got hurt or reputations were damaged? Well, you have to give something to get something and it strikes me that Jordan was more than willing to pay that price.
Don’t get me wrong: all of the true greats have that mean gene in them – there are fights among teammates on every team in every sport. That part of this revealing look at Jordan isn’t new or particularly revealing to me. Stuff happens on teams and you move on.
Jordan, though. Man, he was next level.
And what’s coming across is that (a) he didn’t care all that much because the championships were worth whatever price others need to pay; and (b) it was compulsive competitiveness.
I’m not entirely sure the second one is actually good for you. I don’t know how truly happy anyone can be if everything has to be a slight or an act of disrespect or something that drives you to treat people around you poorly.
The total look at Jordan – and there are still two episodes to go, so I’m not quite ready to end the story yet – makes you admire his athletic brilliance and the fact he was the most valuable player in every NBA Finals he was ever in, and that he didn’t lose any of those six championship series, makes you admire him as a player.
Can you admire him as a person?
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I’m not quite there yet and I don’t think I’ll get there after watching this series finish.
We didn’t do really well on the mailbag yesterday and I guess that’s not surprising since there’s not a ton to talk or ask about.
But if there is something that comes to your minds, feel free to drop a note to email@example.com and we’ll see what we can come up with. We’ll be back here, as usual, Wednesday and Friday so get at it today if you can.
I’m old enough to remember Stiller and Meara when they used to make the odd appearance on such classics as the “Ed Sullivan Show” or maybe it was the “Red Skelton Show” or Jackie Gleason or one of those variety hours back in the day.
Funny then but, man, did Jerry Stiller ever have a renaissance that gave a whole new generation of viewers a chance to see him.
And Festivus was brilliant and I can’t wait to air grievances later this year but, tell me, who had the hen, chicken and rooster thing figured out thanks to him?
RIP. A classic.
Before you ask, and I’m sure some of you will, there will be no pictures, no video, no words from any of the Raptors who take advantage of the opening of the training facility today.
Makes entire sense and I didn’t expect anything else, but I just wanted you to know.
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