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The Madhouse: Week of 5/1 - Thoughts on ‘The Last Dance’

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Dennis Rodman is my hero.

3rd Annual Mammoth Film Festival Red Carpet - Saturday Photo by Michael Bezjian/Getty Images for Mammoth Media Institute

This coronavirus thing is really getting to me. I mean I hate it. I’m ready to be done with it. I need my sports. Give me Baltimore at Miami, I’ll eat that s*** up like it’s game seven of the World Series.

But we’re finding some sports to talk about, aren’t we? ESPN, or Netflix, or ESPN and Netflix, I can’t be bothered to look it up, bumped up its 10-part miniseries on the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls because why the hell not? There’s nothing else to do.

It’s good. Very good. Great? I’ll stop short of great. It’s hard to gauge such a thing during these global pandemic times because there is so little to consume. I’m a starving man. And I’m out of Vegas Golden Knights games to rewatch.

I’m going to give some observations that will not tarnish your viewing experience if you have not yet seen the first four episodes. Important observations. And observations you literally cannot get anywhere else.

Full disclosure, I hated the 90’s Bulls. Hated them. I mostly started hating them because I was a punk-ass contrarian nine-year-old for no good reason whatsoever. And then I continued hating them because they knocked off our Suns in 1993. And then I continued hating them because I was committed to my craft.

Michael Jordan was kind of goofy

Michael Jordan having control over all of this footage means we saw what he wanted us to see. So one of the first indications that you’re getting some unique content is seeing a bubbly, loose, goofy Airness.

We call Jordan an assassin and tell tales of him punching teammates in the face when they don’t practice to his standards. Watch ‘The Last Dance’ and you’ll catch glimpses of a different Jordan.

Those glimpses are on display following the Chicago Bulls winning the 1997 McDonald’s Open Championship. Post-game Jordan took winning that title just as seriously as he should have.

I’m unsure whether I should feel sorry for Scottie Pippen

Much is told about Scottie Pippen’s relationship with Bulls’ management. Much of it is not good.

Scottie was drafted by the Seattle SuperSonics fifth overall in 1987. He was traded that night to the Bulls. Pippen was inked to a six-year rookie deal.

Four years into that deal, fearing injury and needing money, he signed a seven-year contract extension worth $18 million. That greatly benefited the Chicago Bulls. Comparable to his peers, that did not benefit Scottie Pippen.

Spoiler alert, the Bulls win the 1997-98 NBA title. Pippen was the sixth-highest paid player on that team. He was the 122nd-highest paid player in the league. That season he collected $2.775 million. Jordan raked in north of $33 million.

And I know this is going to sound terrible to some, but it’s still EIGHTEEN MILLION DOLLARS. When Scottie left Chicago he signed a $67 million deal in Houston. A $10 million dollar contract, again with the Bulls, would follow.

So the guy made more than $100 million in his career. If you haven’t seen the doc, this all may seem silly, but the narrative is leading you to ‘Scottie got screwed and you should feel bad.’

I don’t feel bad.

I have a new appreciation for Dennis Rodman

I get it.

I didn’t get it for so long, but now I get it.

When I was a kid I was a fan of Dennis Rodman. I had trouble stringing more than one bucket together, so a guy that was more about boards than buckets would naturally be one of my favorite players.

Then Dennis Rodman turned into Dennis Rodman. First in San Antonio, when I began to sour on The Worm. Then he went to Chicago, and it was easy to hate. Sports hate, not real hate, chill out.

But now I get it.

The Last Dance goes into detail about Dennis’ difficulties meshing with the ‘97-98 team. At one point, it’s the third or fourth episode, Rodman goes to coach Phil Jackson and tells him he needs a vacation. In the middle of the season.

I wanted to scream at the television, “THAT’S RIGHT DENNIS, I NEED A VACATION TOO!”

But that’s not the most important point. Here’s the most important point. Dennis did his job.

He would finish 15 boards a game, tops in the league. It was his SEVENTH consecutive year leading the NBA in rebounding.

When you do your job, who cares what else you’re doing? Dress up like a woman. Go to Vegas for a few days in the middle of the season. Date Carmen Electra. Marry Carmen Electra. Divorce Carmen Electra.

I don’t care. And I shouldn’t have cared then. As I saw his story being told, I kept thinking, ‘who cares?’

Is he getting rebounds?

Then who cares?

You gotta do your job. I don’t like it when people don’t do their jobs. If you do your job, then when you’re not doing your job, do whatever. I don’t care. Not everyone is as cutthroat as Michael Jordan. And that’s good.

Phil Jackson is presented exactly as you would expect

You won’t be surprised.

Til’ next week.