ESPN and Netflix just collaborated on what is one of the greatest documentaries of all time in “The Last Dance.” The excellence of the execution and delivery of the 10-part series is only fitting to the subject himself in the one and only Michael Jordan and his Chicago Bulls.
Be that as it may, there are still a number of intriguing matters glossed over throughout the series. Below we’ve rounded out five topics that we feel should have been given at least some attention in the documentary, and there are plenty more as well (MJ’s kids are barely in it, and his wives are nowhere to be found) as this docuseries easily could have been 20 hours or longer.
Game 6 of the 1992 NBA Finals
Jordan did “The Shrug” in Game 1 of the 1992 Finals against Clyde Drexler and the Portland Trail Blazers. A lot of time was put into this narrative, and rightfully so. However, while the docuseries showed the Bulls beating the Blazers in six games to win a second straight title, it didn’t get into the details of the epic Game 6.
After the Bulls drew first blood in Game 1, Chciago and Portland alternated wins through the first five games of the series. Come Game 6, the Bulls had the 3-2 series lead and were on the verge of winning title No. 2. The Blazers would not go down without a fight, however, and they started the game strong, silencing the capacity crowd of Chicago Stadium. Portland held Jordan scoreless pretty much throughout the first period, and they amassed a 43-28 lead at one point in the second quarter.
Entering the fourth and final quarter, Portland was still up 79-64, and it was Chicago’s second unit with Scottie Pippen that went on a furious run to bring down the deficit to just three points at around the nine-minute mark of the fourth. Jordan returned to the game and kept the momentum going for the remainder of it. Chicago never looked back, holding Portland to just six points in the final four minutes of the contest.
Jordan was obviously the star of the show, but role players like Bobby Hansen and Stacey King made key contributions during that run with MJ on the bench. They unfortunately didn’t get their due in “The Last Dance,” so we wanted to highlight this here.
Below are the highlights of that memorable evening:
Craig Hodges played alongside Jordan from 1988 to 1992, taking part in the first two titles of Chicago’s first three-peat. He was a role player on the squad, averaging just 10.8 minutes per contest, and at the conclusion of the 1991-92 season, Hodges was waived by the Bulls at age 32.
Hodges never played in the league after that, and he insists he was blackballed from the NBA for being such an outspoken activist. He even filed a lawsuit against the league, which was eventually dismissed.
For what it’s worth, Hodges has been critical of Jordan for not involving himself enough in the political sphere — an issue that was also tackled during “The Last Dance.” In a recent interview, the former Bulls guard claimed that Jordan was a prisoner of capitalism. Hodges’ unabashed outspokenness on issues like this likely kept him from being interviewed for the series.
The Hue Hollins Foul Incident
Jordan went on his baseball hiatus during the 1993-94 season. During that season, the Bulls still won 55 games behind Scottie Pippen and a stellar supporting cast. Chicago made it to the Eastern Conference Semifinals that season, and one of the most contentious moments of the thrilling series came in the dying seconds of Game 5 at Madison Square Garden.
The series was tied 2-2, and the Bulls were up one point with just 7.2 seconds remaining in the ballgame. With his team in possession of the rock, then-Knicks head coach Pat Riley drew up a beautiful play that left Hubert Davis open for a jumper at the top of the key. Scottie Pippen tried to contest, but he was whistled for a foul by referee Hue Hollins. The Bulls were furious with the call, which resulted in Davis sinking both free throws to lead the Knicks to a one-point victory.
The Bulls won Game 6 in Chicago, but the Knicks closed out the series on their home floor in Game 7. New York eventually faced the Houston Rockets in the NBA Finals after beating the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals, but they were easily swept by the eventual champs.
If that call doesn’t go against the Bulls, perhaps they wind up going to the Eastern Conference Finals and facing Indiana. Whether Chicago actually gets to the Finals to face the Rockets is anybody’s guess, but it would have been quite the accomplishment in the first season without Jordan.
Here’s the incident in question, so you be the judge:
“The Mailman Doesn’t Deliver on Sundays”
Episodes 9 and 10 of the documentary centered around Chicago’s rivalry with the Utah Jazz, which climaxed in back-to-back Finals matchups between the two sides in 1997 and 1998.
It was in Game 1 of the 1997 Finals, however, that Scottie Pippen delivered what is widely considered to be one of the best trash-talking moments in league history. As we all saw in “The Last Dance,” Jordan was also the GOAT at smack talk, but Pippen made a claim for the throne with this one.
The game was tied with 9.2 second lefts with MVP Karl “The Mailman” Malone stepping to the line. Before he could attempt his potentially game-winning free throws, however, Pippen approached him and uttered an epic six-word statement that got Malone rattled:
“I just whispered in his ear: ‘The Mailman doesn’t deliver on Sundays,’” said Pippen, via David Fleming of ESPN.
Malone missed both free throws, and on the next possession, Jordan sank the game-winner over Bryon Rusell. That shot was featured in Episode 9 of the series, but it would have been great if there was at least a mention of Pippen’s epic mind games against Malone.
The Wizards Years
Everybody knows that Jordan made his second comeback in the NBA some three years after “The Last Dance” with the Bulls. It is also common knowledge that despite still showing some semblance (or a lot?) of the Jordan of old, the Washington Wizards did not exactly do well during MJ’s two-year stint with the team.
We understand that “The Last Dance” centered around how Jordan built his legacy with the Bulls, but perhaps it would have only been fitting if the series also looked into MJ’s third and final stint in the NBA. Even a cursory mention would have been fine to provide a bit more closure to Jordan’s decorated career, but it was omitted entirely, likely to avoid being anti-climactic after the drama-filled breakup of the dynasty.