Sports fans looking for some sort of respite from the COVID-19 pandemic that has shut down all activities. The pandemic spurred ESPN to air “The Last Dance” documentary for five weeks in April and May instead of its initial date in June. The Last Dance details the journey of the 1990s Chicago Bulls’ teams led by NBA Hall of Famer Michael Jordan. Those Bulls’ teams won six NBA titles in eight years, with Jordan earning Most Valuable Player honors in each of those championship winning years.
Jordan combined great skill, an unparalleled work ethic, and a maniacal (some would call it sociopathic) disposition to compile his NBA legacy. That legacy catapulted the NBA into the stratosphere in the 1980s, with Jordan earning prime endorsements for Nike, McDonalds, and Gatorade among others. His “Air Jordan” shoes remain culturally relevant for 35 years and counting, earning Nike billions of dollars in continued revenue.
The Last Dance portrayed Jordan as tyrannical at times, belittling and cursing out teammates that weren’t performing to his high standards. On a team flight, Jordan allegedly tried to convince the flight attendant staff to deny Bulls’ power forward Horace Grant of his in flight meal due to his poor performance during a recent game. In another incident, Jordan punched teammate and current Golden State Warriors’ coach Steve Kerr in the eye during practice and was ejected from the facility by head coach Phil Jackson (which prompted Jordan to apologize to Kerr afterwards). Not exactly befitting behavior from a man who wanted impressionable kids to “Be Like Mike”, Gatorade’s famous tagline during their 1980s campaign.
Jordan’s humanistic flaws didn’t overshadow his on court brilliance. Utopian society dictates that protagonists drink their milk, eat their vitamins, and show love and respect to their fellow man on their way to success in their chosen fields. Reality tells another story, as many a powerful person has ruffled some feathers on their way to success. Let’s not forget it took Jordan seven years to fulfill his championship aspirations. While he browbeat some of his teammates, he had to eventually learn how to trust them in clutch situations to finally realize his championship dreams. All this has cemented Jordan into an NBA legend whose legacy will endure for generations to come.