The latest two episodes of “The Last Dance” turn the lens on Michael Jordan turning into a true global icon thanks to a new relationship with Nike.
Additionally, Jordan’s source of Jordan’s legendary competitiveness is explored by looking at how he used slights to help motivate himself throughout his career.
Sportsnet had the pleasure of previewing “The Last Dance” and throughout its rollout we’ll be breaking down the notable takeaways of each episode via the quotes that stood out and signified that chapter in the Chicago Bulls’ story.
Availability in Canada on Netflix
Episodes 7 and 8 – Monday, 11 May – 12:01 a.m. PT
Episodes 9 and 10 – Monday, 18 May – 12:01 a.m. PT
Notable interview subjects: Kobe Bryant, Bob Costas, Deloris Jordan (Michael’s Mother), David Falk, Rod Thorn, Nas, Justin Timberlake, B.J. Armstrong, Magic Johnson, Toni Kukoc, Scottie Pippen, David Stern, Willow Bay, Adam Silver, Andrea Kremer, Barack Obama, Michael Jordan.
Quote of the episode: “Nike’s expectation when we signed the deal was at the end of Year 4, they hoped to sell $3 million worth of ‘Air Jordans.’ In Year 1 we sold 126 million.” – David Falk
Episode 5 tackles the phenomenon that was the Air Jordan sneaker.
In hindsight, it turned Nike into a global sports apparel brand and made Jordan a celebrity pitchman, but the deal almost never happened.
Jordan didn’t want to meet with Nike. Falk, Jordan’s agent, had to convince him to take the trip to Nike headquarters and when that didn’t work, he enlisted Jordan’s mother to force him.
Converse wasn’t interested in giving him a signature shoe as they already had a full roster headlined by Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Isiah Thomas, among others, and Jordan’s preference was actually to sign with another brand.
“I was Adidas,” he explained of his childhood love of the three stripes.
Imagine how the history of both brands would have been altered if Adidas had the foresight to sign Jordon?
In his final season as a member of the Bulls in 1997-98, Jordan and his shoes were bigger than the game. That year Jordan wore Jordan 1s in what he thought was going to be last game at Madison Square Garden.
“I couldn’t take the shoes off fast enough and when I did my socks were soaked in blood,” Jordan recalled as technology and the size of Jordan’s feet changed drastically since his rookie year.
Bonus quote: “I feel bad for Tony. Michael and Scottie were out of line. He was terrified.” – Michael Wilbon on Jordan and Pippen going out of their way to dominate their future teammate Tony Kukoc in the 1992 Olympics.
Notable interview subjects: Will Perdue, Phil Jackson, Michael Jordan, B.J. Armstrong, David Aldridge, Scottie Pippen, Patrick Ewing, Pat Riley, Charles Oakley, J.A. Adande, Andrea Kremer, David Stern, Ahmad Rashad, Danny Ainge, Charles Barkley.
Quote of the episode: “I was a little bit upset I didn’t get the MVP that year and they gave it to Charles Barkley. OK you can have that I’m going to get this.” – Michael Jordan
This was Jordan’s explanation for the motivation he took into the 1993 Finals, and throughout the series Jordan was always trying to manufacture slights to get himself going.
“I knew that Jerry Krause loved Dan Majerle. Just because Krause liked him was enough for me. ‘You think he’s a great defensive player?’ OK fine. I’m going to show you that he’s not.”
In that 1993 Finals, Jordan went on to average 41 points per game, still the most ever.
“That was probably the first time in my life that I felt there was a better basketball player in the world than me, to be honest with you,” Charles Barkley explained in the doc speaking about losing in Game 2.
“I have no problem losing to Michael,” Barkley continued. “Losing to Michael, there is no shame in that. Sports are like a gun fight and we lost to the fastest gun.”
Bonus quote: “Physically I was getting exhausted, but mentally I was way past exhausted.” – Michael Jordan on being burned out by the end of the first three-peat. He piled up 19,439 minutes from 1988-1993, which was by far the most on the team.