Chronicles of the new Crying MJ

This week we continue exploring “The Last Dance” Episode 07 and 08 where we get Crying MJ, his leadership come into question, his baseball stint, the motivation after Michael’s dad past away, the “Double Nickel” game, and ultimately the 72-10 Chicago Bulls run. 

If you haven’t listened to last week’s episode, I suggest you take a listen!

Sunday’s installments of ESPN’s The Last Dance showed the rude, the bad, and the ugly sides of Michael Jordan. And the happy, the sad, the devastated. During the two hours of episodes 7 and 8, we see Jordan endlessly berate his teammates; sob in the locker room after winning the 1996 NBA Finals on Father’s Day, three years after his dad was murdered; and punch Steve Kerr in the face after antagonizing him in practice.

Highlight of the Episode: Jordan Takes a Break

In 1993, Jordan quit basketball. He’s the last person you would imagine quitting anything, yet he quit the game altogether. Or that’s as much as fans knew at the time. “This was a young man who’d gone through some heartrending things,” Phil Jackson says in Episode 7. Jordan was still mourning his father, whom he was close to. James Jordan’s body had been found in a river just two months before MJ’s decision, and media later speculated without basis that Jordan’s gambling had something to do with the murder.

“This is a very bittersweet day,” Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf says. “There’s a certain sadness because the greatest athlete to ever play a team sport is leaving the game. But it’s really, for me, a very, very happy day, because somebody who I admire and respect is doing exactly what he wants to do. And I’m absolutely convinced that he’s doing the right thing.”

You sympathize with Crying Jordan. You dislike him. You admire him. He is, to use the cop-out of all cop-out clichés, a complicated man. The Last Dance was produced because Jordan approved the use of exclusive footage, and though most filmmakers try to avoid it, documentaries always—sometimes explicitly, sometimes subtly—end up taking sides.

crying mj
Michael Jordan laughing at Gary Peyton explaining how he slowed him down in the 1996 NBA Finals

But our attention quickly turns to Jordan and the Bulls winning another title in ’96. We remember that Jordan is the ultimate champion, despite the outbursts, and one sentiment sticks more than the other. This is how it goes with problematic athletes. Greatness overshadows nastiness. The Last Dance conveys the height of both with Jordan.

Episodes 09 and Episode 10 debut next Sunday at 9 PM EST on ESPN and ESPN2

You’ll Also Learn

  • Michael Jordan’s AA stats
  • Why Michael led his way
  • The 95 Off-season Jordan Dome
  • Audio behind Michael’s 4th championship locker room infamous photo

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