The Last Dance: Episode 3 & 4 Reaction

Sunday night the third and fourth episodes of ESPN Films “The Last Dance” premiered on ESPN, and as expected, it was another outstanding two hours of content. I mean, I haven’t been this excited for appointment television since Tony Soprano was smoking cigars and yelling “goombah!” in my living room every Sunday at 9PM.

Episodes 3 & 4 followed a similar trajectory of the first two episodes, giving us more detail on Jordans career leading up to the 97/98 season while also doing a dive into the backgrounds of Dennis Rodman and Phil Jackson.

Starting with Rodman, it was a lot of the same stuff we’ve heard before regarding his off the court antics and partying ways, but was highlighted by the fact that mid-season he asked Phil Jackson and MJ for “vacation” because he had been on the straight and narrow for too long that season. Phil granted him a 48 hr vacation, but Rodman decided to turn that into more of a 4-5 days reprieve. The following clip was maybe the best part of episode three and gives us insight into how the Bulls handled the always eccentric Rodman.

It was eye-opening to see the team acknowledge that Rodman need time to basically let loose and party during the middle of the season but it seemed they all realized that was the best way to keep Rodman locked in and focused when he was there, and it worked. It’s hard to imagine this being possible during the age of social media, where Rodman would have been filmed partying all over Vegas while the Bulls played without him, but at the time it was what Rodman claimed he needed to refresh and focus himself.

BULLS VS PISTONS SAGA

The Rodman background in Episode three tied in nicely with the storyline of the Bulls having to overcome the Bad Boy Detroit Pistons to finally get over the hump and become top dogs in the Eastern Conference. The Pistons were more than physical with Jordan and refused to let his high flying acrobats defeat them. This tweet basically sums up how they handled Jordan during those playoff series.

Was it dirty? You could say that. But during that era they technically played within the rules. Some of those antics would never be allowed in todays game but as the documentary states it was getting through those Pistons that made MJ tougher and set him on a path to win 6 of the next 8 NBA Finals.

The rivalry with Pistons was fierce and the bitter feelings seem to remain to this day. 30 years later Jordan still holds a grudge against Isiah Thomas and those Pistons for walking off the court without shaking hands after the Bulls swept the Pistons in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Clearly this is a grudge that Jordan won’t be letting go of anytime soon.

Phil Jackson: Greatest Coach of All-time?

The fourth episode went into more detail into the background of Phil Jackson and the impact he had on this Bulls team and how important he was to the success of this team. Many think Jordan would have won all his titles regardless of his coach or teammates but this documentary shows how Jackson’s style and approach when it came to coaching helped this team reach their apex and attain the heights they did.

Via NBA.com

If you just take a moment and think about the egos and personalities he had to manage over that run, it’s hard to imagine there is many other coaches that could have held that beast together for as long as he did. Handling Dennis Rodman alone feels like it would be a full-time job. We also were graced with some background info on how Phil used to like Acid back in his playing days and was very much into Native American teachings and implemented some of those practices into his coaching style.

The end of episode four shows how this Bulls team fully formed into the dynasty of the 90’s they would become and shows them winning their first title over the LA Lakers. Jordan again cements his legacy as the GOAT when it details the work ethic he put in to finally get over the hump of the Pistons and reach the NBA Finals. It was a refreshing reminder that taking the challenging road and working hard can have the sweetest payoff. Jordan didn’t asked to be traded when he couldn’t beat those Pistons teams or demand the organization surround him with more talent. He instead demanded more out of himself and his teammates and put in the work in the weight room to be better prepared for the rough and tough style the Pistons played.

I’m sure in the coming episodes we will see more of the cut throat side of Jordan and stories of his off the court escapades, but so far this documentary has driven home one fact that many of us knew to be true, Jordan was the most competitive SOB to ever grace a sports field or court ever, and that’s why his is the GOAT.

Reports of David Ortiz Being Shot During Attempted Robbery in the Dominican Republic

Details are still fuzzy as to what exactly has happened but there are reports that Boston Red Sox legend and future Hall of Famer David Ortiz was shot today in the Dominican Republic.

This news hits especially hard to the Boston area and its fans who view Ortiz as an absolute icon. Not only did he lead the Red Sox to three World Series championships over his career, but he was the rock the city needed following the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings and he gave this now famous and emotional speech.

Luckily preliminary reports are stating the gunshot was a leg wound but details are still sketchy at this point. We will bring you more updates as we learn more. But obviously at this time nothing but prayers to Ortiz and his entire family. If we know one thing about Ortiz is that he is #BostonStrong and if anyone can make it through something like this then it’s him.

Will Top-Ranked Recruit RJ Hampton Skipping College to Play Overseas Make Waves Across College Basketball?

High School basketball star RJ Hampton announced today that he will be foregoing College Basketball and instead opting to play professional ball immediately for a year until he becomes eligible for the NBA draft. Hampton announced his decision on ESPN’s “Get Up” morning show that he will be bringing his talents to the New Zealand Breakers.

Here are some of Hampton’s thoughts on the decision and why he is opting to skip the college system altogether.


“My No. 1 goal is to play in the NBA. I wanted to be an NBA player before I ever wanted to be a college player. This is about getting ready for the next level faster and more efficiently. Both of my parents went to college. My mom got her master’s degree. Education is a big thing in our family, but this is about focusing 100 percent on basketball.” – RJ Hampton (via ESPN’s Get Up)

Now, this wouldn’t be the first time we have seen a player opt to play professionally abroad rather than go into the flawed college one and done system. A system that pretends to put an importance on education for players that will only be on campus for a total of 8 or 9 months. He wouldn’t be the first, but he certainly seems to be the most talented thus far to make the decision. Hampton ranked as a 5-star recruit and the 5th ranked overall player of the 2020 recruiting class. He is almost a sure shot to become a lottery draft pick when he eventually declares for the NBA.

When asked for a comment on the situation, part owner of the Breakers, PFT Commenter of Barstool Sports had this to say.

All joking aside and even though PFT is a real owner, the significance of this move shouldn’t be undersold and rightfully should have the NCAA and its coaches concerned. There has been much criticism of the one and done athlete in men’s college basketball. While Division 1 basketball is still the top tier of talent in terms of a league outside the NBA, that only really applies to the United States. Euro Leagues like Liga ACB, the one Luka Dončić hailed from, and others such as NBL where the Breakers play, have real talent and allow the athletes to focus solely on basketball. There are no classes and grade point averages to uphold while trying to manage a full workload of basketball and travel during the season.

 

Hampton is throwing a wrench into this broken system that seems destined to change anyways in the coming years. With the growth of the G-League, the NBA’s own developmental league, and more and more options becoming available for top tier high school talent, I believe before long we could see a phasing out of the one and done. Which believe it or not, would be good for not just the players but for College Basketball as well.

While in the coming days, Hampton will receive praised and scrutiny from both sides, it’s key to remember this. What other professions in the world are you not entitled to earn money from your skill if you are one of the best in the world at it? A 17-year-old genius will get a free ride to MIT and be able to get paid for work he does outside school if he chooses. Also, in this very country, we also have 15- and 16-year old’s making millions of dollars creating YouTube and Instagram videos and there are no restrictions on that. Let these athletes make the best decisions for themselves and their families. College Basketball has made enough money off these kids. It’s time for a change, I’m happy to see it finally starting to happen.

 

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