Today we come to the end of the 10-part documentary of The Last Dance with EP09 and EP10 where we see “The Shot” but prior to it, we see one of the greatest sequences in sports history by Michael Jordan, the Pizza Game and the CVS hit list BUT not before we answer the question of the series.
It took almost 10 hours to get to the question. “Was it satisfying to leave at your peak?” Michael Jordan is asked in the final minutes of ESPN’s The Last Dance, “Or was it maddening?” The 10-part documentary ends right before Jordan announces his second retirement from the Bulls.
Highlight of the Episode: Jordan’s Final Minute As a Chicago Bull (The Shot)
Jordan won the regular-season MVP award, the All-Star MVP, the Finals MVP, and a third straight title the year he left the league. And in Game 6, in the last minute of the last playoff game of his last title, Jordan delivered the best sequence of his career.
The Flu Game
It turns out, one of the most iconic Jordanisms is a lie. It wasn’t the flu that Jordan overcame for 38 points and a win in Game 5 of the ’97 Finals—it was food poisoning. Here’s what happened:
On the eve of the game against the Jazz, Jordan and his trainer, Tim Grover, order a late-night pizza to the team hotel in Park City, Utah. Five guys show up to deliver it, according to Grover. Three explanations for this:
- They’re fans of Michael Jordan. It’s 1997. Who isn’t? They just want him to sign a box.
- They’ve poisoned the pizza in the hopes of incapacitating Jordan for Game 5. Let’s see the plan through together, one says, failing to consider how alarming it will be to see five delivery guys in one car.
- Heavy pizza.
Grover sees the troupe it took to deliver this pizza and grows nervous. “I have a bad feeling about this,” he tells Jordan, who eats the pizza anyway. (Not included in the documentary is the part where Jordan spits on the pizza before eating it so no one else hanging with him can have a slice, a tidbit that Hehir shared with Jalen & Jacoby.) By 3 a.m., MJ—the only person who ate the pizza, for obvious reasons—is violently throwing up. He feels weak; he looks weak; alas, this is Michael Jordan. He plays anyway. The Bulls win Game 5.
But we can’t start suddenly calling it The Food Poisoning Game. We just can’t. Catchiness always tops technicality. Neil Armstrong didn’t say “one small step for man.” He said “one small step for a man.” Darth Vader never said “Luke, I am your father.” It was, “No, I am your father.” And it wasn’t the flu that Jordan had, it was a gastrointestinal gut bomb exploding inside him.
Who Annoyed Jordan This Week: Bryon Russell
My favorite recurring bit in The Last Dance is Jordan cackling at players who earnestly believe they could’ve contained him. When he was shown a clip of Gary Payton, a nine-time All-Defensive first team selection, suggesting “The Glove” took a toll on MJ during the ’96 Finals, Jordan threw his head back and boomed laughter. In the ninth episode, that poor adversary is Bryon Russell. Jordan scoffs at his name. “Yeah,” he says, “Bryon Russell?”
You’ll Also Learn
- Steve Kerr’s journey leading to the 1997 and 1998 seasons
- Jerry Reindorf excuse for breaking up the Bulls
- Michael’s hit list
Enjoy the episode!
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