How ‘The Last Dance’ Solidified Michael Jordan as the Undisputed GOAT
Dec 7, 2018; Charlotte, NC, USA; Charlotte Hornets team owner Michael Jordan yells at an official in the second half against the Denver Nuggets at Spectrum Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
The Last Dance‘s 10 episodes were thrilling, tear-jerking, and beautifully composed from start to finish.
For the older generations of basketball fans, this documentary brought nostalgia; for the newer generations, an up-close look at the hunger and drive was welcomed along with an inside look at the tough competition that Michael Jordan had to face. While most people agree that Jordan’s legendary career stands out above most, it’s puzzling to see the arguments of others being crowned the GOAT.
This documentary laid down the facts on who the GOAT truly is.
The Last Dance dug into the entire career of Jordan from start to finish. In order to see him at his highs, viewers had to see the drive that got him there. Constantly being knocked out of the first round and never being in that conversation with Larry Bird and Magic Johnson fueled him.
“Michael made the point that he had won a lot of scoring titles, but he was never in the category of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird of winning championships,” Johnson said. “Once he won the first one against my showtime Lakers, we were both in the locker room and there’s a door in between the visitors locker room and the Lakers locker room and so I told their PR person, ‘Grab Michael because I want to congratulate him.’”
Regaridng the docuseries, Johnson said, “It gave us all these thrills and took us back, as well as took us forward, too. And I’m glad a lot of kids got a chance to see what made Michael Jordan the GOAT and what made him special.”
Even after he eclipsed legendary status, Jordan found motivation to keep destroying the rest of the league. The good ones win but the best ones make sure nobody else gets a taste, and that’s what Jordan did. He used other players’ accomplishments (league MVPs, comparisons by the media, rival success) to trample over the competition. He demolished the likes of Clyde Drexler due to a simple comparison. Plus, he demolished the career of LaBradford Smith with a story that he finally admitted never happened.
The depths to which this man would go to work himself into an assassin’s lather is comical.
And nobody can forget the hatred of then-Bulls general manager Jerry Krause, who made games for random players a living hell. Tony Kukoc was a prime example. Jordan and Pippen heard Krause’s adulation of Kukoc. They knew Kukoc stood to make more money than Pippen. They completely shut him down in that first game—he had to fight and claw for any available shot—just to get back at the general manager. That level of intensity is nothing that will be seen in the NBA today.
Jordan was also hard on his teammates.
“Look, winning has a price,” Jordan said. “And leadership has a price. So I pulled people along when they didn’t want to be pulled. I challenged people when they didn’t want to be challenged. And I earned that right because my teammates who came after me didn’t endure all the things that I endured. Once you joined the team, you lived at a certain standard that I played the game. And I wasn’t going to take any less. Now if that means I had to go in there and get in your ass a little bit, then I did that.”
To demand that much from a team is crazy; there is not another player in NBA history who could get away with doing this. (No, not even LeBron James.)
Another legendary player believes ESPN’s 10-part documentary should end the greatest player debate for younger generations.
“It just cements and dispels the conversation about having anybody else named the greatest player ever,” Shaquille O’Neal, a four-time NBA champion, told The New York Post. “For all the new millennials that buy his shoes but never seen him play, they should see why he’s so valuable. It just cements and puts in perspective why he’s the best player ever, period.”
In other words, The Last Dance speaks for itself. While many will still try to argue about who the greatest basketball player of all time is, the legacy and testaments will speak for themself.
While LeBron James still has years left on his career, Jordan’s level of ferocity is something he will never acquire.