My Stories, Unsung Heroes

The Last Dance

Two episodes a week come out, because ESPN is involved, along with Michael Jordan’s production company and Netflix. Otherwise all of it would drop if it was just done by Netflix.

It’s a great doco so far.

I more or less lost interest in basketball after the 97/98 season, but this doco has got me reading about it again, watching older games and other basketball documentaries.

I’m not even a Bulls fan, it was Lakers for me. But I never got on board the Kobe era with Phil Jackson as coach. Just too many other things were happening in my life that made sports not really important. Sort of like how COVID-19 showed all the sports stars that they are not really an important service when it comes to life and death.

So how much power did Jordan have?

Well, when ESPN was given the all clear to have unprecedented access to the Chicago Bulls during the 97/98 season, the contract stipulated that the ESPN footage could only be used/released if Michael Jordan approved it. Well its time now for Jordan to release it and ensure that his legacy remains, in the face of new challengers (these challengers have been made up by the media) like Steph Curry and LeBron James.

It’s been over 22 years and the footage is that clear, it looks like it was filmed today. It feels like those Amazon “All Or Nothing” documentaries.

And there is no doubt that the era of Jordan, Pippen, Rodman (who came a bit later on) and coach Jackson is a massive era. Plus there is no doubt that they all ended up hating Jerry Krause.

A lot of the things in the documentary, show how the team banded together in spite of Krause. If they played a team who had a player that Krause liked, then they would set the record straight and show Krause that he was wrong. Jordan and Pippen even took their anti-Krause stance to the USA Dream Team match against Croatia in the Olympics.

Toni Kukoc was already signed with the Bulls but was sent on loan and playing in the European Leagues. Pippen owned him in that first match, but as Jordan said, to Kukoc’s credit he showed what a player he is in the final. Even though Croatia lost. Of course, we all know that Kukoc eventually joined the Bulls and played a part in the three-peat.

Krause always spoke about how great the organisation is. Because he also wanted to be noticed for the backroom work he did. But the players are its bread and butter. The players are the organisations best assets. If the players are not there and doing what needs to be done on the court, then the organisation has nothing. You don’t see a retired Krause jersey hanging above centre court.

What happened after Jackson, Pippen, Jordan and Rodman left the Bulls?

Sweet FA.

If the organisation that Krause built was so great, why didn’t it keep winning titles or get back to winning titles after a decade in the wilderness, like the Lakers did in the 2000’s under the tutelage of Jackson, and Kobe (being mentored by Jordan).

Krause forgot who were the stars. It was the players. They are the assets. They brought people in to the venue and they sold the merchandise. Pippen won six titles and the Bulls wouldn’t up his salary. They kept him to a contract he made years ago before they even won their first title. When the Bulls won their fifth title, Pippen was listed at 122 on the salaries received list. Players who played in non-championship teams earned more than Pippen. Rookies even earned more than Pippen.

Seriously that is how Krause treated his assets.

The record labels did the same disservice to their best assets, the artists.

Of course if you got a recording contract back in the day and got to make an album that did commercially well, then you are thankful, but the power was always on the label side.

The deck was stacked against the artist from breaking even. The artist still lived at their parents’ house while the label heads and A&R reps flew private and had executive offices in high rises and lived in penthouses.

Desmond Child went to Richie Sambora’s parents house to write with the band. Even though they had two Gold albums on the board, the band Bon Jovi had a million plus debt to the label.

But Krause wanted to prove that he is the “man” and that the “organization” is brilliant, and in his vanity, he is also the reason why the Bulls never achieved anything post Jordan.

And Jordan never went back. He mentored Kobe at the Lakers instead and is owner of the Charlotte Hornets. Whereas if you look at others, Magic and Larry Bird they still had some involvement with the teams they played their careers with.

And what a great title, “The Last Dance”. Phil Jackson came up with it, as he had a policy of giving each season a title before it commenced.

Because Jackson was told he was on the outer and to him it was “The Last Dance”.


5 thoughts on “The Last Dance

  1. Way to get that little bit of music in there. Ha. I haven’t seen this doc yet, but everyone is talking about it, almost as much as Tiger King!! And I haven’t seen that one yet either (okay, two episodes that is all).

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