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RECAP | THE LAST DANCE EP.04

10.06.20

RECAP | THE LAST DANCE EP.04

EPISODE FOUR OF THE LAST DANCE WAS TO THIS POINT THE BEST BALANCE OF TACTICAL INSIGHT AND THUS SATIATING THE NERDS IN THE AUDIENCE AND THE HARD-HITTING SLOW-MOTION HIGHLIGHTS FOR THE JOCKS TUNING IN FROM THEIR WEIGHT RACKS. PHIL JACKSON HAS HAD ENOUGH SCREEN TIME OVER THE COURSE OF THE SAGA SO FAR, YET NOW WAS HIS MOMENT IN THE SUN.

CLOSING OFF THE CLIFF-HANGER WE EXPERIENCED AT THE END OF EPISODE THREE, THE SHOW COMMENCES IN EARLY 1998 WITH A MANHUNT FOR DENNIS RODMAN DURING HIS “HOLIDAY” IN VEGAS. THE SUPPOSED 48 HOURS SPENT IN VEGAS TURNED INTO A MUCH LONGER WEEKEND THAN WHAT IT WAS SUPPOSED TO. PERHAPS TO THE SURPRISE OF SOME, NOT ONLY DOES RODMAN RETURN UNSCATHED, BUT AFTER HIS RETURN TO TRAINING HE PROCEEDS TO ABSOLUTELY WHIP THE BULLS, LAPPING THEM OVER AND OVER AGAIN IN A CONDITIONING DRILL. WHILE THE TEAM’S DIALOGUE WAS CENTRED AROUND PRESERVING DENNIS’ DIGNITY BY NOT SHOWING THE CRACKS IN HIS ARMOUR, THERE WAS A LOT MORE GAS LEFT IN THE TANK. WHAT SEEMED LIKE AN ATTEMPT FOR THE TEAM TO SAVE FACE WAS INSTEAD TURNED INTO A LESSON IN HUMILITY FROM RODMAN AND HIS MASTERMIND ON THE SIDELINES, PHIL JACKSON.

MILD MANNERED AND QUIETLY SPOKEN IN HIS INTERVIEWS SO FAR, PHIL JACKSON WAS GIVEN THE REINS TO ELUCIDATE HIS BASKETBALL LIFE. ONCE A STAR AT THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH DAKOTA (GO FIGHTING HAWKS), HE WAS A SECOND-ROUND PICK BY THE KNICKS AND PLAYED A MINOR ROLE COMING OFF THE BENCH IN THEIR 1973 TITLE WINNING SEASON. IT WAS LATER CLEAR HOWEVER THAT HIS FUTURE LAID MORE ON THE SIDELINES IN A SUIT THAN BEING ON THE SIDELINES WAITING TO SUB INTO A GAME. ONE OF THE MOST INTERESTING ASPECTS OF THE FEATURE ON JACKSON WAS THE TIME THAT HE SPENT AS A COACH IN PUERTO RICO. DEVELOPING AS A COACH IN AN ENVIRONMENT WHERE THE HOME TEAM KILLED CHICKENS IN GRAVEYARDS AND PUT THE RESULTING BLOOD ON THE AWAY TEAM’S BENCH WASN’T THE CRAZIEST THING TO HAPPEN IN THE LEAGUE IT MAY BE PRETTY CLEAR THAT SOMETHING MAY HAVE RUN AMOK. I WILL ADMIT I DID A GENUINE SPIT TAKE WHEN IT WAS REVEALED THAT A REFEREE WAS SHOT BY THE MAYOR OF THE TOWN JACKSON’S TEAM PLAYED IN… AND ALL THAT HAPPENED WAS THAT HE COULD NO LONGER ATTEND HOME GAMES. AS JACKSON’S CAREER EVOLVED AND HE ACCEPTED THE JOB AS THE HEAD COACH OF THE BULLS HE DEVELOPED THE MOST NUANCED CONNECTION WITH DENNIS RODMAN. THEIR SHARED LOVE OF NATIVE AMERICAN CULTURE HELPED SHAPE A UNIQUE CONNECTION THAT EXTENDED PAST THE WHITE LINES OF THE COURT.

THE OFF-COURT RELATIONSHIP OF DENNIS AND JACKSON WAS YET TO DEVELOP IN 1991 WHEN THE BULLS WON THEIR FIRST CHAMPIONSHIP FOR THE SIMPLE REASON THAT THEY WERE RIVALS. DESPITE LACKING THE WORM, THERE WAS NOTHING THAT COULD STOP THE BULLS FROM STORMING DETROIT AND BLOWING PAST THEM IN FOUR GAMES. IN WHAT WAS THE TRUE CORONATION OF THE BULLS AS THE APEX OF THE NBA, THEIR ROUT OF THE PISTONS AND SUBSEQUENT FINALS VICTORY OVER THE LAKERS SHOWED THE WORLD THAT THE BABY-FACED JORDAN AND HIS MERRY BAND OF CALVES WERE NOW READY TO STAMPEDE ALL OVER THE ASSOCIATION.

THIS CHAMPIONSHIP IS A TRULY SEMINAL MOMENT IN THE HISTORY OF BASKETBALL, WITH THE WIN OVER THE PISTONS BEING THE MOST DIVISIVE FOR MJ, NOW ON THE VERGE OF HIS PRIME. THERE WAS CLEARLY A SENSE OF RELIEF THAT CAME FROM THIS VICTORY – MANY OF JORDAN’S TEAMMATES OPENLY SAID THAT WAS THE FIRST TIME THEY HAD SEEN HIM SHOW ANY FORM OF HAPPINESS IN THE ENTIRE TIME THEY HAD KNOWN HIM. IN JORDAN’S FIRST YEARS IN THE LEAGUE, HE WAS THE ULTIMATE “BAD TEAM, GOOD STATS” PLAYER, BUT WINNING A CHAMPIONSHIP STARTED TO CEMENT A LEGACY OF SOMEONE THAT TRULY COULD ELEVATE THE PEOPLE AROUND HIM, PROVING MANY PEOPLE WRONG AT THE SAME TIME.

THE FINAL SCENES OF THE EPISODE STARTS TO INTRODUCE THE PEOPLE THAT PLAY THE ROLE OF THE “MONSTARS” IN THIS FORM OF JORDAN MEDIA, THE UTAH JAZZ. PREVIOUSLY THERE HAS BEEN LITTLE MENTION OF THE TEAM THAT JUST 9 MONTHS BEFORE WERE THE OPPONENTS THAT TOOK THE BULLS TO SIX GAMES AND LOOKED LIKE THE ONLY TEAM THAT COULD DETHRONE THE GREATEST DYNASTY OF ALL TIME. SEEMINGLY, THIS TEAM LURKING IN THE SHADOWS, ONLY BEING MENTIONED PASSING, IS ALL ABOUT TO CHANGE. THE STAKES ARE CERTAINLY JACKED UP WHEN, FOR THE SECOND TIME IN AS MANY MATCHES, THE BULLS ARE WELL AND TRULY OUTPLAYED – THEY’RE SHAKEN, DOWN BUT NEVER OUT. THIS TEAM IS JUST GETTING STARTED AND THE DEATH STAR IS NOW FULLY ARMED AND OPERATIONAL. WATCH OUT NBA, THE BULLS ARE COMING.

SHOP JORDAN