The Last Dance | A Benched Review
Over the course of 5 weeks, we were connected to our TVs to relive the season of the Chicago Bulls 6th title run. This 10 episode program united the country to have basketball back in our lives for one last time in a long one. In these 5 weeks, we got the origin stories of numerous players from the first and second three peat as well as some rivals. Let's jump get into it and reintroduce our sports section Benched to the public.
The first 4 episodes were origin stories based around the big four: Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, and Phil Jackson. As a basketball fan, you will probably know the most about MJ. The other three stories are the notable ones. Once you see how the other three were brought up, you can understand their rationale in the decisions they made in their last season together.
Scottie Pippen came from a modest upbringing. His family consisted of 10 kids shared between Preston and Ethel Pippen. The sheer amount of mouths to feed was heavy over his heart when he got into the NBA. He made sure his family didn't have to want for anything and was scared if he got hurt, he couldn't financially keep it going. This does come back to bite him in the ass later on in the documentary which we will touch on. I will admit how much love and adoration MJ gave to Pippen in Scottie's episode. We must acknowledge how impressive a player Scottie was for MJ to show this amount of respect. He was offensive a close match to MJ. The difference is that MJ has a killer instinct and Scottie was more of a playmaker for the team (the original "Point-Forward). This balance they had is what the MJ and Scottie combination was one of the most feared in the 90s. Scottie has at times said he wouldn't be the player he is today without training with Michael.
Dennis Rodman is the best third wheel you could ask for. He could handle the defense and rebounds which alleviates the stress on MJ/Scottie on their responsibilities. The important thing we have to acknowledge is how Rodman grew up. Dennis was living on the streets after he turned 18 for about 2 years. The amazing aspect of Rodman's story was how late he started playing the sport and how good he became in a short amount of time. You can even say that Rodman was a basketball genius. His eccentric nature over the course of his career is in reality Rodman being Rodman.
Phil Jackson is one of the best coaches in the game of basketball. The ability to manage a team of 12-15 players with distinct personalities and take them to 6 championships is no easy task. One of the most eclectic people in the world in the 90's was Dennis Rodman. At times he would be unmotivated to play and other times wanted to go on vacation during the season. This would have driven other coaches insane. Not Phil. He was somewhat of a free spirit himself. You can even say he was Dennis Rodman before Dennis Rodman ever played the sport. It was how they were able to relate to each other which kept the Bulls united throughout all the trials and tribulations of the dynasty years. Not only that, Phil was learning from one of the brightest basketball minds in the world, Tex Winter. It was the perfect situation for Phil to discover his coaching style and understand how to connect with his players. This was their tactician to get them in position to win those rings.
You know The Last Dance is based around Jordan and the Bulls overcoming a multitude of rivals. We see the Pistons, Lakers, Suns, Pacers, Blazers and Jazz (amongst a few others) fall to the Bulls. What is amazing about the storytelling in TLD is how the players how to overcome weaknesses in their game to become strong enough to overcome opponents. Starting with Jordan, in the early seasons with the Bulls was the MJ show. He would go on scoring clinics and not make it in deep into the playoffs. Jordan had to learn how to pay into the Triangle system and trust his teammates. The most important thing was them losing in the 1989-1990 season to the Pistons. It sparked the fire to have the team work hard to build their body and mind. This energy trickles down to the other star players and role players where they are pushing themselves in all aspects. The first championship was when they knew it was worth buying into the process. That first ring obtained in beating the Pistons in the Conference Finals and the Lakers in the Finals was just a taste.
We have Air Jordan vs Afro Kobe face off and it was a touching memory. Kobe was speaking so highly of his guidance from Michael which was important to see. We constantly get arguments of MJ vs Kobe or MJ vs LeBron. I think now it is all about appreciating the greatness of all the people we were fortunate to see in their prime. Without Michael, there is no Kobe. These are comments straight from the Black Mamba himself.
As much as this documentary displays how strong Jordan was in the 90s, it also helps you remember that his rivals were also amazing players themselves. People like Charles Barkley, Magic Johnson, Gary Payton, and John Stockton were all walking buckets. I think we often forget that these players were shining in their own light. Charles is currently an amazing sports broadcaster and current players need to remember there were moments Charles was close to MJ's level of greatness on the court. I think in all great stories, you need to have worthy adversaries to make the end worth the pain. This leads us to the final journey for the Bulls.
If you couldn't guess it, the Bulls end up beating the Utah Jazz. Sorry if I spoiled that one for you. I think watching how it unfolds is what makes this entire documentary worth it. We learned about the upbringing for everyone on the team. We see how they come together as one and where the trust is solidified. This entire journey we see how the "Flu Game" happened and how this is the last game as unit for the Chicago Bulls. We see how a dynasty was built and how it destroyed the competition. Now in this documentary we saw the world and what happened after that win. Where people went after the tear down.
Michael Jeffrey Jordan was the face of the dynasty we all knew in the 90's. His upbringing with his older siblings is the fundamental aspect to birth his immense desire to win. Jordan wanted to be the best and at every level that drive took him far. When he was left off the varsity team in high school, it made him double down on improving his skills. Jordan went to UNC and battled to be the top dog on the team with James Worthy. We get to the NBA and he left his mark on the game forever. There is a lot we learned about MJ in this documentary and we have to appreciate greatness when we see it. If you haven't watched it for whatever reason, please get to it.
We Woz shrugging in life moving forward. Stay safe and see you soon with more content from #Benched!