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#pounditMonday, January 24, 2022

Articles tagged: The Last Dance

Scottie Pippen says Michael Jordan was ‘condescending’ in documentary

Scottie Pippen

Millions of viewers were captivated by “The Last Dance” documentary when sports came to a halt during the pandemic. But Scottie Pippen has made it abundantly clear that he was not happy with the documentary series.

Pippen has spoken openly about that, and he vented about it even more in his upcoming memoir.

GQ published an excerpt on Tuesday from Pippen’s upcoming book, “Unguarded.” In the book, Pippen goes into detail about why he was upset with “The Last Dance.”

Pippen said the series “glorified Michael Jordan while not giving nearly enough praise to me and my proud teammates.” Pippen blamed Jordan for that issue, noting that M.J. had editorial control over the final product.

Pippen said he was initially excited about the documentary. His opinion changed when ESPN sent him the episodes to preview before they were aired publicly. He says he knew from the scenes glorifying Jordan in the opening episode that the series would be about furthering Jordan’s legacy and nothing more.

“Even in the second episode, which focused for a while on my difficult upbringing and unlikely path to the NBA, the narrative returned to MJ and his determination to win,” Pippen wrote. “I was nothing more than a prop. His ‘best teammate of all time,’ he called me. He couldn’t have been more condescending if he tried.”

Pippen believes Jordan’s goal with “The Last Dance” was to show the younger generation of fans that M.J. is superior to LeBron James. He’s not the only one who felt that way, though Pippen’s feelings are obviously a lot stronger and more personal.

You can understand why Pippen felt the main goal of “The Last Dance” was to put Jordan “on a pedestal,” as he described it. That said, his opinion is more than a little biased. There are several reasons Pippen was furious over his portrayal in the documentary. He also said in a bizarre interview a few months back that he believes Phil Jackson is a racist. Jordan isn’t the only member of the Bulls dynasty with whom Pippen has an issue.

Michael Jordan shares one regret about ‘The Last Dance’

Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan has made an admission about the one thing he would change from the popular “The Last Dance” documentary.

The Last Dance” was a 10-part documentary series about the 1990s Chicago Bulls. The series provided background to viewers on what led up to the 1997-1998 season, which was the last season before the Bulls broke apart their sixth championship team of the ’90s.

The series did huge TV ratings, was highly popular, and helped reintroduce Michael Jordan to a whole new age of sports fans. But one thing it did not do is give due and air time to one member of the Bulls’ starting five: Australian center Luc Longley.

Longley barely received any attention from the documentary. That left him “bummed” in his words.

“I didn’t expect to be a heavy feature in it because they hadn’t interviewed me, but I did expect to be in it more than I was,” Longley told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. “Sitting there on the couch and watching episode after episode where I wasn’t in it — yeah, I was bummed about that.”

The series director said it was too expensive to send a film crew to Australia for Longley’s contribution, which is why the 52-year-old former center was largely omitted.

Steve Kerr, who was a key contributor for the ’90s Bulls, said that he knew Longley was “hurt” by the omission.

Even MJ recognizes that the lack of Longley’s presence was a problem.

“I can understand why Australia would say, ‘Well, why wouldn’t we include Luc [Longley]?’ And we probably should have. And if I look back and could change anything, that’s probably what I would have changed,” Jordan told Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Longley played four and a half seasons for the Bulls and was a starter on their teams that won three championships in a row from 1996-1998. Those who followed the Bulls know all about Longley, but younger fans don’t, and the documentary didn’t give him his due. He wouldn’t be the only former Bull to have an issue with the documentary.

Gary Payton had great response to Michael Jordan ‘The Last Dance’ reaction

Gary Payton

One of the more memorable moments of ESPN’s “The Last Dance” documentary was Michael Jordan laughing at a confident Gary Payton’s recollection of the 1996 NBA Finals. Now, Payton has finally had the chance to respond.

The Chicago Bulls famously jumped out to a 3-0 Finals lead on Payton’s Seattle SuperSonics in 1996, with Payton kept off Jordan defensively to try to keep him fresh on offense. The Sonics won two in a row after Payton took over guarding Jordan, but ended up losing in six games. In the documentary, Payton said he had taken a toll on Jordan and wished he had moved over to guard him sooner. Jordan’s response to Payton spawned one of the documentary’s more memorable memes.

When asked about Jordan’s laughter in a Bleacher Report AMA, Payton said he’d do the same thing.

“He wouldn’t be Michael Jordan if he would have bowed down there,” Payton wrote. “Everybody knows about his competitiveness. He was a guy who came every night to play. I respect him for that because I came every night to play. I was never gonna back down to him and he knew that. If it was my documentary and they asked me the same thing I would have laughed too. …

“Wish I could have started off on him in the championship and it would have been better, but their team was better than mine at the time and they won it all. He did a documentary, he felt the way he felt. What I can do is I can say the same thing hahaha.”

In a way, Payton is demonstrating what made both him and Jordan great — mutual respect, but an unbreaking belief that each would get the better of the other.

It’s neat to see Payton taking it like he did. Some rivals featured in the documentary were caught a bit off-guard by Jordan’s reaction to them, but not Payton.

Scottie Pippen confronted Michael Jordan about ‘The Last Dance’

Scottie Pippen

Scottie Pippen has admitted he wasn’t in love with his portrayal in “The Last Dance” documentary — and when he confronted Michael Jordan about it, he got precisely the response you might expect.

Pippen told Andrew Anthony of The Guardian that he wasn’t pleased with his portrayal in the documentary, and added that he felt it was too much about Jordan trying to glorify himself.

“I don’t think it was that accurate in terms of really defining what was accomplished in one of the greatest eras of basketball, but also by two of the greatest players — and one could even put that aside and say the greatest team of all time,” Pippen said. “I didn’t think those things stood out in the documentary. I thought it was more about Michael trying to uplift himself and to be glorified.”

When asked if Pippen had brought those complaints to Jordan, the former Bull said he had — and the response was pretty funny.

“Yeah. I told him I wasn’t too pleased with it,” Pippen said. “He accepted it. He said, ‘hey, you’re right’. That was pretty much it.”

“The Last Dance” was a ratings bonanza for ESPN earlier this year, and sparked new discussions about the 1990s Bulls teams. It also sparked a lot of speculation about how Pippen felt, given that Jordan had the final say over what appeared in the film and Pippen was portrayed negatively at multiple points.

It was suggested at one point that Pippen had extremely strong feelings over his portrayal. He seems more relaxed here, but it’s certainly clear that he wasn’t thrilled.

Robert Horry dishes on wild Kobe Bryant-Michael Jordan similarities

Watching ESPN’s highly-acclaimed documentary “The Last Dance” proved to be an eerie experience for Robert Horry.

Appearing this week on “Wireside Chat” with Houston Rockets broadcaster Craig Ackerman, Horry said that the series reminded him of his late teammate Kobe Bryant with the similarities between Bryant and Michael Jordan.

“I was there from the beginning when Kobe first came in the league as a rookie,” said Horry. “It’s so weird watching ‘The Last Dance’ and knowing that Utah was playing the Bulls. That’s the game [Game 5 of the 1997 Western Conference Semifinals] that kinda turned Kobe’s career. He shot an airball down the stretch, kinda went from [there to] going into the lab, working hard and trying to become the player he was.

“He was just a great teammate, a great player, one of the smartest players you could ever play with,” Horry continued about Bryant. “It’s so weird getting a chance to really watch Michael Jordan in ‘The Last Dance’ and hear the words that he uses and everything. It’s almost like Kobe just took everything he said, everything he did, his mannerisms, his language, his lingo, and just copied it. It’s like watching a ghost now, and I hate to use those terms, but to watch Michael Jordan is like, man. How did Kobe learn everything this dude did to a T and made it a little better in some areas.”

Horry was teammates with Bryant on the Los Angeles Lakers for Bryant’s first seven seasons in the NBA, including their run of three straight championships from 2000 to 2002. He also competed against Jordan for many years, having entered the league in 1992.

Bryant enjoyed a very close relationship with Jordan, which was spotlighted in part during Episode 5 of “The Last Dance” where Bryant gave Jordan credit for his success in the NBA. He was known to idolize Jordan and patterned his playstyle, leadership qualities, and competitive fire after that of His Airness. Even upon Bryant’s passing, Jordan was one of the speakers at his memorial service, and it is clear that the two will always share an inextricable link.

ESPN’s ‘The Last Dance’ becomes network’s most watched documentary

ESPN The Last Dance

Unsurprisingly, ESPN’s ten-part “The Last Dance” documentary has broken ratings records for the network.

Sunday night’s airing of the final two parts in the series averaged 5.6 million viewers across all ESPN platforms, the network said in a news release. The average rating for all ten episodes was also 5.6 million viewers. That makes it the most watched ESPN documentary of all time, besting 2012’s “You Don’t Know Bo,” which averaged 3.6 million viewers.

The premiere episode was the highest-rated of all ten parts, averaging over 6.3 million viewers. Part nine, the penultimate episode, became the third-highest rated of the series when it aired Sunday.

These ratings also don’t include viewers who watched the documentary after its initial airing via recording or streaming. ESPN says when time-shifted viewing is taken into account, over 15 million people watched the first episode.

With no live sports going on in the United States and ongoing interest in Michael Jordan’s Bulls, this was always destined to be a huge ratings winner. It has delivered in a big way, and the network will be thrilled.

Plus, it’s not the only record Jordan has helped break lately.

DiGiorno pizza hits home run with incredible Michael Jordan tweet

Michael Jordan

DiGiorno pizza absolutely knocked it out of the park with a tremendous tweet on Sunday night.

Episode 9 of “The Last Dance” documentary talked about Michael Jordan’s infamous “flu game”, which was Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals against the Utah Jazz.

Though Jordan did have flu symptoms prior to the game, MJ and his trainer have said the effects were due to food poisoning.

As the story goes, MJ was really hungry late one night, and nothing was open in Utah. His friends called around looking for food and found a pizza place that was open late, like around 10 pm, that was willing to deliver a pizza. Jordan’s friends suspect the pizza was tainted and made the Bulls star ill.

The telling of the story led to this great tweet from DiGiorno, which is a frozen pizza brand.

Delivery pizza still is great as long as the people delivering it aren’t trying to sabotage your team. DiGiorno is also delicious, and they get an A+ for the tweet. By the way, this sort of alleged stuff is nothing new for opposing fans.

Jerry Krause claimed Phil Jackson wanted to take a year off after 1998 season

Phil Jackson

“The Last Dance” documentary has portrayed Michael Jordan extremely positively, while Jerry Krause has been portrayed as close to a villain. The focus of the documentary has been about the 1997-1998 Chicago Bulls season, which was the final season with all the star players together before the team broke apart. In setting the stage for the season, the documentary explored what led the Bulls to enter the year knowing it was their “last dance” together.

Former Bulls GM Jerry Krause was shown as being disliked by many players, especially Jordan, while Scottie Pippen had a running grievance with the GM over his contract. There were also issues between Krause and Phil Jackson. Krause apparently had been targeting Tim Floyd as Jackson’s replacement, and even unbelievably said that Jackson would not return to the Bulls even if the team went 82-0 in 1997-1998.

Krause died in 2017 and was unable to defend himself for the documentary. But he did write a book that addressed the decision to break apart the team after it had won three in a row. A full excerpt was published by NBC Sports Chicago and is well worth your time for Krause’s side. One notable nugget is that Krause claims Jackson told the Bulls he wanted to take at least a year off after the 1997-1998 season.

We had the finest coach in the game in Phil Jackson, whom the public did not know didn’t want to coach a rebuilding team and who’d informed us before the season that he wanted to ride off to Montana and take at least a year off.

That’s very interesting, and Jackson should definitely respond to let us know whether he initiated the separation, or whether he felt the Bulls didn’t want him back. It’s a he said/she said situation.

But if you read the entire excerpt, you will understand that there was some logic to his decisions, and definitely another side to the story.

Steve Kerr felt reminded of Warriors by watching ‘The Last Dance’

Steve Kerr

Watching ESPN’s “The Last Dance” documentary has become a ritual over the past several Sundays, and it has been widely acclaimed viewing. For Steve Kerr, though, the reminders are a bit different.

Kerr was a part of the Bulls team featured in the documentary, but it also reminded him of getting the Golden State Warriors over the line for their second consecutive title in 2018.

“To be honest, [the documentary] is just confirmation of what I was saying to our team all of last year and 2018,” Kerr told Nick Friedell of ESPN. “The whole messaging for the year was based on my experience with Chicago and feeling that level of fatigue [and] emotional toll that had been over the previous four years. …

“And so watching this now is just a reminder of how difficult it is to sustain that kind of run.”

Warriors general manager Bob Myers agreed, adding that the second title the team won with Kevin Durant in the fold lacked joy.

“The second time with Kevin [in 2018] it felt like, ‘Well, we just did what we were supposed to do, and great job,'” Myers said. “It wasn’t joy.

“I’m sure a lot of people felt differently. It wasn’t anybody’s fault. I think there’s just a weight to everything. And so I’m sure [the Bulls] felt that weight of everything, weight of relationships.”

When the Warriors won their first title in 2015, it was a remarkable and memorable achievement. After their loss in 2016, they added Durant. 2017 was about getting him a title and getting revenge on the Cavaliers, but 2018 simply felt like they had to win or else.

No wonder Kerr felt like the Warriors had already peaked in 2018.

Ex-Bulls teammate upset with Michael Jordan over ‘cocaine circus’ comment

Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan’s revelations from “The Last Dance” have been great for fans, but at least one former teammates doesn’t think much of the things Jordan has said in the documentary.

Ex-Bulls guard Craig Hodges, who played with Jordan from 1988-1992, felt that Jordan unnecessarily aired too much personal business. Hodges was bothered by Jordan’s documentary discussing the “cocaine circus” team.

“One of the things as players we call this a fraternity,” Hodges told “The Odd Couple” with Chris Broussard and Rob Parker, via Wil Leitner of FOX Sports Radio. “So I’m watching the first episode and I was upset about the ‘cocaine circus.’ That bothered me because I was thinking about the brothers who are on that picture with you who have to explain to their families who are getting ready to watch this great Michael Jordan documentary event and they know you’re on the team, and now you’ve got to explain that to a 12-year-old boy.”

Hodges also objected to Jordan calling Scottie Pippen “selfish” over contractual demands, as well as MJ blaming Horace Grant for leaking information to the media.

“Then the Scottie Pippen part. Scottie was ‘selfish’. C’mon man, c’mon,” Hodges said. “And then last night with Horace, that hurt me. I’m letting MJ know that that ain’t right, dude. Horace did not deserve to take the fall for ‘Jordan Rules’. If MJ knows something else and knows Horace’s motive, then tell us how Horace did it for my sake, because I’m your teammate brother, just like they are, and I’m kind of salty how everybody got interviewed but me.”

That last line may inform why Hodges is so willing to publicly air these grievances, as he was not spoken to for the documentary. Perhaps he’s unhappy about that, though he does bring up a decent point about the “cocaine circus” aspect.

Here’s what MJ said that set Hodges off so much.