• November 27, 2020

“The Last Dance” and the Art of Sportsmanship: “Put In the Work.”

 “The Last Dance” and the Art of Sportsmanship: “Put In the Work.”

Cover Abyss/Michael Jordan

For the last few weeks we’ve been ending our Sunday nights with Michael Jordan and the Bulls. It’s a story that will never get old. Each moment of The Last Dance was intriguing.

The 1997-98 Bulls are a sports anchor for most of our basketball histories. By us, I mean the millennials. Personally, I was just coming into sports analytics and becoming conscious about what was really going on. It was always fun to watch Jordan and the Bulls fly up and down the court.

We’ve had this conversation before. I digress.

The Last Dance was a perfect sequence of life lessons wrapped in grit and imperfection. It built windows around the Bulls exhibit in the NBA Hall of Fame; giving us a view of the makings of a championship. NBA Championship, that is.

Actually, it gave us a “behind the scenes” view of being and NBA dynasty. It’s great to know that I wasn’t the only one who appreciated this journey in NBA history.

The man, the myth, the machine.

Of course there were more statements about the greatness of The Last Dance. Last night’s episodes were worth of the Twitter praise.

We clearly got to see what it takes to achieve the impossible. We learned that we will have to change the name of the “Flu Game” 12s to the “Stomach Virus” 12s. Episodes 9 and 10 really cemented the pressure that this Bulls team was under. It kind of felt like the docu-series was a steady climb up a steep mountain.

Episode 9 and 10 was the oasis that awaits at the plateau.

Sportsmanship, an art.

I enjoy the sportsmanship of yesterday. Our athletes used to pair their legendary skills with solid practices of sportsmanship. One of the biggest lessons we learned during this docuseries is how to be competitive.

We’ve lost sight of that in our athletics. Our athletes of today mistake competitive drive for some sort of evil. In fact, our world at-large has found a way to make competition feel “wrong”. Listening to these Hall of Fame NBA stars talk about each other served as a reminder that you can be competitive on the court and friendly off it. Last night’s episodes really detailed that through the eyes of Reggie Miller.

“He and I had somewhat of a unique relationship,” Miller said in the documentary. “Most people feared Michael Jordan, and rightfully so. But I didn’t fear Michael Jordan like the rest of the league did, and we had to lock horns over it. I respected him so much, but he probably thought I was just some mouthy, skinny kid.”

More in the tank.

Jordan says he had more in the tank.

1998 didn’t have to be the “Last Dance” for the championship Bulls. Michael Jordan shared that he would have happily tried for a 7th championship given the opportunity. He believes that the rest of the band would have wanted to be apart as well.

Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf says that it was unlikely, no matter what Jordan says.

“I know in Episode 10, [Jordan] says, ‘They all would’ve come back for one year.’ But there’s not a chance in the world that Scottie Pippen would’ve come back on a one-year contract when he knew he could get a much bigger contract someplace else,” Reinsdorf shares to ESPN.

“The thing nobody wants to remember,” Reinsdorf continued, “during lockout, Michael was screwing around with a cigar cutter, and he cut his finger. He couldn’t have played that year. He had to have surgery on the finger, so even if we could’ve brought everybody back, it wouldn’t have made any sense.”

So, 1998 may have been out of the question. But, could the Bulls have squeezed out another ring somewhere? It may have had to have been without Scottie but who knows.

Thank you.

All in all, The Last Dance was perfectly engaging and informative. It was a great way to scratch my daily itches (yes, everything is ‘ok’) for sports and history. Though I don’t subscribe to the arrogance or aggression, it still was quite the experience seeing Michael Jordan leading with transparency.

He probably didn’t know what those moments would mean to us 22 years in the future. But, those moments have certainly taught me great lessons on focus and leadership.

It’s simple; put in the work.

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