Written by Braiden Lewis (Sports Writer)
“I don’t care if you win 82 games in a row.” These were the words of then Chicago Bulls general manager Jerry Krause to head coach Phil Jackson on it being his last season as the Bulls head coach. ESPN’s 10-part documentary series “The Last Dance,” which accounts the 1997-1998 Chicago Bulls, resumed Sunday with the releases of episodes 3 and 4. Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls allowed the NBA to follow them throughout the entire season and document their last championship together. The series presents never-before-seen footage, as well as interviews with more than 100 people that were close to the team. As a person who wasn’t even alive during the Bulls era, I’ve always felt left out when hearing just how mesmerising and untouchable they were during the 90’s. The most I’ve gotten to see of MJ and the Bulls were through griney youtube videos and highlights. But being able to watch this series has really opened up the basketball world in a new light to me. No matter what age group you are, everyone is seeing something new. You get a behind the scenes view of how a dynasty was made, and why it ended. One thing that stood out to me was the story of Scottie Pippen. To think that one of the greatest players of the 1990’s who fought right beside Miachael Jordan on that crazy six championship run, had a completely different road to stardom then his teammate did. For starters he was from a small town in Arkansas with no college offers. He decided to walk-on at Central Arkansas as the team manager before he would have a chance to play due to injuries. During his time playing he proved to be the best player on the team while also having a huge growth spurt from 6”2 to 6”7. After getting drafted by the Bulls, he never really got a chance to use his skills until Phil Jackson implemented the fast paced triangle offense. Before college he used to play point guard, so after his growth spurt he displayed speed and ball skills that no one at his height could match turning him into a superstar. And with all this being said, during the 1997-1998 NBA season he was the 122nd highest paid player in the league, and the sixth highest paid player on the Chicago Bulls. Another thing that really stood out to me about the documentary was the backstory of why the Bulls run ended after the 1997-98 season. It all starts with Jerry Krause, the general manager for the Bulls from 1985-2003. To his credit, Jerry did help out a lot in the Bulls championship run as he was the one who landed Michael, Scottie, and Dennis. But what many didn’t know is that he was also the reason that they all broke apart. Many close to the Bulls organization believe that Krause became jealous of Michael Jordan’s fame and knew that if he got rid of Phil Jackson, that he’d get rid of Michael as well. But the thought still lingers: What if Phil never got fired? Would the Bulls be able to win 7? The question will always be up in the air. But the thing that stuck out to me most was how Dennis Rodman ended up being so iconic on the Bulls. At 18, Dennis was kicked out of his home and worked as an overnight janitor at a local airport. Much like Scottie Pippen, after experiencing a crazy growth spurt from 5’8 to 6’7 he decided to try and pick up basketball. He was discovered by a coach at Southeastern Oklahoma University where he was drafted by the Detroit Pistons and became a part of the “Bad Boys” who plagued the Chicago Bulls for years. Dennis was a quiet, hard nosed player in Detroit and it wasn’t until he almost committed suicide outside of the Pistons arena, that he became his iconic self. He said he wasn’t happy being that type of Dennis anymore, and wanted to show the world the new Dennis. And the rest is history, crazy color hair, late night parties, outlandish outfits. Even with all those things, he was a key part in the Bulls championship run defensively and in rebounding. In his words “…the Bulls wouldn’t have won” without him. Episodes 5 and 6 will be aired on ESPN this Sunday.