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RECAP | THE LAST DANCE EP.08

14.07.20

RECAP | THE LAST DANCE EP.08

THE LAST DANCE’S RUN IS STARTING TO WIND UP AND THEY USE THIS EPISODE TO SHOWCASE HOW CLOSE THE TEAM IS TO THE SUMMIT OF THE MOUNTAIN. THE 1998 BULLS ARE IN THE PLAYOFFS SHOWING OFF HOW TRANSCENDENT THEY ARE BY BEATING THE BRAKES OFF THE HORNETS IN THE OPENING SCENES OF EPISODE 8. WHILE THERE WAS A STRONG EMPHASIS ON THE WAY JORDAN PLAYED THE GAME OF BASKETBALL ON THE COURT, THERE WAS ALSO A GREAT DISSECTION OF HOW HE PLAYED THE MENTAL GAME WHEN HE WASN’T DUNKING ON FOOLS.

THIS PETTINESS HAS BEEN DISCUSSED BY MANY OF THE TALKING HEADS ON THE SHOW BUT THE BEST EXAMPLE OF ALL RELATES TO A MAN CALLED LABRADFORD SMITH. BEYOND THE EPIC NAME HE IS THE VICTIM OF MJ’S GAME INSIDE THE GAME. IN 1993 HE WAS A YOUNG PLAYER FOR THE WASHINGTON BULLETS AND JUST SO HAPPENED TO SCORE 37 POINTS IN A GAME AGAINST MJ. THIS IS A GREAT ACHIEVEMENT AND SHOULD BE RECOGNISED FOR ETERNITY, BUT DO PEOPLE KNOW ABOUT LABRADFORD SMITH? NO WAY! THE REASON FOR THIS IS THE NIGHT AFTER HE SCORED 37 ON THE BULLS. MJ “THOUGHT” THAT HE HEARD SMITH SAY, “GOOD GAME, MJ,” AND AS HE ALWAYS DID – MJ TOOK IT PERSONALLY. FAST FORWARD 24 HOURS AND JORDAN’S REVENGE GAME RESULTED IN A 36 POINT HALF (47 POINTS IN TOTAL) AND THE COMPLETE DESTRUCTION OF LABRADFORD SMITH. THE MOST INSUFFERABLE PART OF THIS STORY IS THAT WHEN PRESSED ON THIS MATTER DECADES LATER JORDAN GRINNED AND ADMITTED THAT HE HAD FABRICATED THE WHOLE THING.

FABRICATING A BEEF WITH ANOTHER PLAYER SO THAT YOU COULD GET BACK AT HIM THE NEXT NIGHT IS SOMETHING THAT ONLY MJ WOULD HAVE THE GUTS TO DO. HOWEVER, THERE WAS SOMETHING ELSE IN THIS EPISODE THAT MADE IT CLEAR HE WAS CUT FROM A DIFFERENT CLOTH. THE RETURN OF MJ IS ONE OF THE GREATEST STORIES IN THE HISTORY OF SPORT. AFTER BEING ASKED TO CROSS THE PICKET LINE DURING THE BASEBALL STRIKE OF 1995 IT WAS APPARENT THAT MJ WAS NOT GOING TO BUDGE AND BECOME A HATED “REPLACEMENT PLAYER.” HIS RESPONSE TO THIS WAS NOT TO TAKE THE TIME OF THE STRIKE TO IMPROVE HIS BASEBALL GAME, IT WAS INSTEAD TO START TRAINING WITH THE BULLS AGAIN. THIS LED TO ONE OF THE MOST ICONIC OFF COURT MOMENTS EVER FOR MJ. “I’M BACK.” TO THIS DAY THIS IS THE GREATEST PRESS RELEASE OF ALL TIME AND IT COULD ONLY MEAN ONE THING, HIS AIRNESS WAS BACK TO RETAKE HIS CROWN.

THERE IS A LOT TO BE SAID ABOUT JORDAN IN 1995, BUT THE MOST IMPORTANT TO DISCUSS IS OF COURSE THE SHOES THAT HE WAS WEARING. THE JORDAN XI IS THE PINNACLE OF THE JORDAN LINE AND TO THIS DAY IS THE BEST WORK EVER MADE BY TINKER HATFIELD. JORDAN’S COLOURWAY OF CHOICE DURING THE REGULAR SEASON WAS THE PERFECT SHOE – THE CONCORD XI, MY FAVOURITE SHOE EVER. DONNING ONCE AGAIN THE MORE TRADITIONAL BLACK AND RED COLOURWAY IN THE PLAYOFFS, THE BRED XI WAS THE PERFECT SHOE TO CAPTURE A CHAMPIONSHIP IN.

UNFORTUNATELY, THE COMEBACK TOUR DID NOT END IN A CHAMPIONSHIP ON THE FIRST TRY. THE ORLANDO MAGIC LED BY SHAQUILLE O’NEILL, PENNY HARDAWAY AND FORMER BULL, HORACE GRANT WERE THE FIRST TEAM TO BEAT MICHAEL JORDAN IN THE PLAYOFFS SINCE 1991. SOMETHING THAT MAY HAVE MADE ALL THE DIFFERENCE WAS THE CHANGE OF NUMBER JORDAN TOOK AFTER RETURNING TO THE GAME. HE WASN’T WEARING 23 BUT INSTEAD OPTED TO DON HIS HIGH SCHOOL NUMBER – 45. THERE HAS BEEN A LOT SAID ABOUT THIS CHOICE, BUT THERE WAS NOTHING THAT SHOOK THE BOAT MORE THAN WHEN NICK ANDERSON SAID “45 DON’T MOVE LIKE 23 DID,” LEADING TO AN IMMEDIATE RESPONSE FROM HIS AIRNESS – CHANGING BACK TO 23. WHILE IT FAILED TO CHANGE THE OUTCOME OF THIS SERIES, WEARING THE NUMBER 23 TOLD US THAT MJ WAS BACK FOR GOOD.

FOLLOWING THE DEFEAT TO THE MAGIC, JORDAN DID WHAT ANY NORMAL BASKETBALL PLAYER WOULD DO, HE FILMED ONE OF THE GREATEST TRIUMPHS IN SPORTS FILMS EVER MADE. SPACE JAM WAS THE ANNOUNCEMENT TO THE WORLD THAT MJ WAS DEDICATED ONCE AGAIN TO THE SPORT HE WAS MOST WIDELY KNOWN FOR. RETURNING TO THE GAME AND THEN REACHING ONE OF HIS LOWEST POINTS, THIS SUMMER WAS NOT ONLY PACKED WITH ACTIVITIES FOR THE FILM, BUT ALSO THE RESHAPING OF HIS BODY. HE WAS A BASEBALL PLAYER AND HAD THE PHYSICAL TRAITS TO REFLECT IT BUT NOW THERE WAS THE NEED TO REWORK HIMSELF. THESE WORKOUTS WERE INTENSE, TWO HOURS A DAY DURING FILMING AND THEN RUNNING AND GUNNING WITH THE TOP PLAYERS IN THE LEAGUE AT NIGHT. THIS MAN WAS ON A MISSION TO SAVE EARTH… AND WIN ANOTHER CHAMPIONSHIP.

THIS CHAMPIONSHIP CAME THE NEXT YEAR, ONCE AGAIN IN THE JORDAN XI GIVING IT THE SECOND SEASON IT TRULY DESERVED. WHILE THE OUTCOME WAS THE SAME, THERE WAS A WHOLE NEW TEAM AROUND JORDAN AND PIPPEN. IN CAME RODMAN, STEVE KERR AND A HOST OF OTHER PLAYERS THAT HAD NO IDEA WHAT IT TOOK TO WIN. JORDAN TOOK THIS PERSONALLY AS A MESSAGE TO TEACH THEM HOW, AND SOMETIMES VIOLENCE IS THE ANSWER. PUNCHING STEVE KERR AND GETTING THROWN OUT OF TRAINING WAS MAYBE THE WAKEUP CALL THAT MJ NEEDED TO ILLUSTRATE THAT THIS WAS NOT THE SAME PEOPLE THAT HE HAD WON A THREEPEAT WITH JUST TWO YEARS AGO. THIS NEW CORE DIDN’T REST ON THEIR LAURELS – WINNING 72 GAMES AND BLITZING THE PLAYOFFS WITH EASE.

THE FINAL APPEARANCE OF REGGIE MILLER IN THE CLOSING SCENES REALLY SHOW THE AUDIENCE WHAT KIND OF A RIDE WE STILL HAVE TO GO. THE END IS NIGH IN THE LAST DANCE AND I FOR ONE CANNOT WAIT.

SHOP JORDAN