I wanted to write a little bit today about “The Last Dance” the ten part documentary that ESPN began airing last week on the 1997-1998 Chicago Bulls sixth NBA championship and on Michael Jordan’s career, but before I do that I wanted to go over where we are and where we may be headed in the sports world.
It is hard to tell right now when sports are going to begin. In the sports world the NHL has proposed starting back up in July and using four neutral site arenas to finish the season with no fans in attendance. Similar plans have been floated by the NBA and MLB but nothing concrete has been announced due to the uncertainty of the coronavirus and where we may be in the next few months.
Just the thought of having sports begin in the next two months gets me excited of the possibility. As for local sports, those could begin sooner rather than later as well if the numbers begin to go down soon. We aren’t sure when the curve will begin to go down, but if that happens soon we may begin to get back to normal before the summer is over.
Youth baseball and softball as well as conditioning for the fall sports and other sports camps being held would be the boost that we need as a community to begin to get back to a sense of normalcy and something that we are all craving right now.
I have seen several people say on social media that we are realizing that we don’t need professional athletes now that sports have been canceled. I don’t think that “needing” them is the point. Here is a quote from Chelsea Powell that she tweeted after “The Last Dance” premiered last week. “For the last two hours life felt normal again. We forgot all about the awful current events. That’s what sports does. That’s why sports are important.” Those words hit me pretty hard because it was then I realized how true that was. We don’t need sports to survive, but sports make us forget about things around us, if only for a short period of time. I can’t tell you how true those words were because I felt them too. Watching those two hours last week about Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls was so relaxing. It took me back to when I was 12 years old and helped me remember why I fell in love with sports in the first place.
I grew up in the Michael Jordan era. The Chicago Bulls and Jordan were known all over the world. At a time when the NBA had Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler, Karl Malone, John Stockton and so many more, it was Michael Jordan who stood high above them all.
There has been a debate going on amongst basketball fans for years: Michael or Lebron? If you are 30 or over you more than likely think Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time, and anyone younger probably goes with Lebron James. It is a debate that will probably rage on forever. Both players deserve recognition as the greatest basketball players of their generation, but I am hoping this documentary will give some of the younger generation a glimpse inside what I was able to watch growing up.
The old saying goes that Michael Jordan was more than a man but less than a God. Jordan did things on a basketball court that most dream of. Everything about his game was perfection, from his defense, to that fade away jump shot, to those dunks that every kid attempted in their back yards.
Growing up in the 1990s, we had yet to get into the digital era that we are in now. We still went outside to play every day. We didn’t have the internet or online gaming like there is now, so that meant we made up our own way of being “Like Mike.” All of the kids in the neighborhood would meet at one house, and we would each become one member of the Chicago Bulls. We would play on that dirt court like we were in the United Center in Chicago and emulate each of those players. The Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan became a part of every kid growing up.
My love for the game of basketball came from Jordan and those Bulls teams of the 90s. They are one of the main reasons I am doing what I am today. So when I first heard about this documentary almost a year ago I knew that I would be all in for it. I actually joked with one of my friends from high school that if they would have aired all ten episodes at one time, that I would gladly stay up all night and watch them, and many people agreed they would do the same.
For those of you that didn’t get to live through the Michael Jordan era and only saw the Youtube clips, please take the time to watch “The Last Dance.” To see MJ in his prime and to see the things that he did on the court is to see basketball perfection. We can get into the breakdown of MJ vs. Lebron at another time, but for now let us enjoy the nostalgic trip back to watch the greatest basketball player of a generation.