Tony La Russa, until recently, never knew his days managing the A’s almost included a rookie named Michael Jordan. You know, the Double-A outfielder for the 1994 Birmingham Barons, better known as the Chicago Bulls’ six-time champion. Can you imagine a lineup card with legends including Rickey Henderson, Mark McGwire, Dennis Eckersley and, ahem, Jordan?…La Russa surprised to hear Air Jordan almost became A’s Jordan — Times-Standard
And just like that, there is only four episodes left of the ten part Chicago Bulls documentary series “The Last Dance”. Episode five and six were released on Sunday talking about the 1992 USA Basketball Dream Team, The Bulls winning the ’92 and ’93 championship, Michael Jordan’s gambling issue, and the late Kobe Bryant talking […]“The Last Dance” Episode 5&6 Review — IPOTTER SPORTS BLOGS
All hail Air Jordan, the King of Flight.ESPN’S The Last Dance stuns the sports industry — Paw Prints Weekly
By JACOB RAMOS
All hail Air Jordan, the King of Flight.
After years of anticipation, Entertainment and Sports Programming Network (ESPN) has finally released their long awaited documentary, The Last Dance. The film is centered around the iconic Chicago Bulls’ 1997-98 National Basketball Association (NBA) championship run and provides an all exclusive look into the highs and lows of the season. Most notably, the video diary illustrates the season’s contribution to the legacies of not only Michael Jordan, but his teammates, executives and of course his coach, Phil Jackson.
While it was Jordan, also known as MJ, who catapulted the Bulls to worldwide fame, Jackson is considered to have tipped the Bulls over the edge. What is not disputed is the fact that the documentary was essentially created for Phil.
The entire debacle began when prior to the 1997-98 season, Jackson was alerted by Bulls general manager Jerry Krause that MJ would not be returning for the 1998-99 season. Soon after, Jordan unexpectedly expressed to the media that if Jackson would not be his coach he would simply retire. Of course, this was not a shocking reality since Jordan had won five championships with Jackson as his coach before the announcement was made. Upon realization, an unprecedented decision was made by Jackson and other team executives to grant the media access to their season, and it was a complete ride.
As of April 30, only four episodes have been aired and are some of the greatest segments I have ever watched. The Last Dance accounts for a total of six hour-long chapters that illustrate the authenticity behind the scenes of one of the NBA’s biggest stars.
As a 2004 baby, I grew up in the Kobe Bryant/Lebron James era of basketball. As I familiarized myself with the sport I love today, I also learned of the legendary Michael Jeffrey Jordan.
Everything from the clutch shots, the win-at-all-cost mentality and the basketball icon that was MJ in the nineties has been embedded in my memories for years. And, by itself, the documentary is truly spectacular. It has offered audiences an entire new level of appreciation for the Bulls, the game, MJ’s legacy and personally, an overall reinvention of how the world and I view basketball.
All at once, the documentary explores MJ’s upbringing, college career—which is legendary in itself—his time on the Bulls and even his relationship with teammates. Undoubtedly, all who watch will be held in sheer amazement at how well the film was put together and how influential one’s legacy can be.
For instance, the documentary takes time to bring audience’s back to the player’s roots. Born into poverty, Jordan grew up playing against rough competition and eventually was able to earn a scholarship to North Carolina. From there, Jordan was a game winner in his freshman year National Championship Game and went on to average nearly 20 points each year before entering the NBA Draft.
These incredible, never before seen highlights are only some of the groundbreaking content that the documentary covers. While this is not the first time a sports documentary has been made, not once has a film of this type ever created such a vast impact on the sports industry. Since its release, the basketball world has been thrown for a complete loop on social media, with an overwhelmingly positive reaction to the doc as fans around the world behold the universe behind the Bulls.
Before the documentary, I would always put Los Angeles Lakers megastar, Lebron James, above MJ in my debates for who the greatest of all time is. My cousins and I have spent hours on end debating who truly is the greatest to ever grace the basketball court. Michael Jordan is a sort of foreign object for me, as I never got to see him play as he retired in 2003. This documentary is so special to me because I can feel him as if he still played today, which is not something I expected even before I began watching the first episode.
To ESPN, the NBA and Michael Jordan, thank you for giving 2000’s babies this deep look into the Chicago Bulls; it truly is an extraordinary experience.PAW PRINTS WEEKLY
More than three decades after the Detroit Pistons stalled Michael Jordan’s ascending stardom by bouncing the Chicago Bulls from the playoffs in three straight postseasons, Jordan admitted he still harbors animosity for the “Bad Boys” team that threatened to derail his success. “Oh, I hated them,” Jordan said in Episode 3 of the ESPN docuseries […]Michael Jordan says he still hates the ‘Bad Boys’ Detroit Pistons — Rival Word
// Jason Hehir the director of ‘The last Dance‘ has opened up on the Michael Jordan interview moment that left him shock. Produced from more than 10,000 hours of behind the scenes footage, basketball fans in Australia will be treated tonight to the second release of the 10-part documentary series showcasing Michael Jordan’s 1997-98 Chicago […]Last Dance director reveals ‘jarring’ Jordan moment — Infotainment Factory
NBA Twitter gave the first two episodes of ESPN’s “The Last Dance” an enthusiastic two thumbs up Sunday night — or, in Alex Caruso’s case, two fire emojis. “Best 2 hours of the quarantine,” is how Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobias Harris summed it up on Twitter. Both the Lakers guard and former Clipper joined the…NBA, WNBA players delight in Michael Jordan documentary ‘The Last Dance’ — Daily News
“The Last Dance” documentary got off to a hot start on Sunday night, and it caused social media to absolutely roast ex-Chicago Bulls general manager Jerry Krause. Krause, who served as Chicago’s general manager beginning in 1985 during the Michael Jordan-era, was depicted as the reason behind the Bulls dynasty dismantling. Krause signed then five-time…‘The Last Dance’ Documentary Prompts Twitter To Roast Ex-Bulls GM Jerry Krause — NESN.com
During the 1997-98 NBA season, the Chicago Bulls allowed a film crew from NBA Entertainment to document what would be the last championship run for a historic team that included Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, head coach Phil Jackson and general manager Jerry Krause. The footage would sit on a shelf for two decades.…How ‘The Last Dance’ Director Told the Story of Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls — Variety
During the 1997-98 NBA season, the Chicago Bulls allowed a film crew from NBA Entertainment to document what would be the last championship run for a historic team that included Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, head coach Phil Jackson and general manager Jerry Krause. The footage would sit on a shelf for two decades.
Jason Hehir was a senior in college during that season. But by the time he began work on “The Last Dance,” a 10-part documentary series about the Jordan-era Bulls and their final championship season, he was a veteran sports-documentary filmmaker — most recently having tackled “Andre the Giant” for HBO. However, “The Last Dance” is next-level. Hehir employed the trove of 1997-98 footage as well as older archival material and recording from dozens of hours of contemporary interviews he and his crew conducted with everyone from Barack Obama to Magic Johnson to Jordan himself to tell the story of that final run and the years leading up to it.
Epic in scope, “The Last Dance” debuts Sunday on ESPN at a time when the network and its audience are starved for new sports content — creating peak anticipation for the project. Hehir discussed with Variety how he went about telling the story of one of the most important teams in pro-sports history.https://tpc.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html?9eeeadb164ca14cdf53099819fc1eaed
How did the ’97-’98 footage end up sitting there for 20 years?
A lot of people had to come to the table and agree on a lot of different parameters, financial, creative, logistical, and it took that long just to get that many people on board. A lot of it is timing. Maybe Michael wants to do it one year and the NBA doesn’t. Maybe we can find a network one year, and maybe we can’t the next year. I wasn’t around for that process. So I can’t tell you exactly why year to year this sat on the shelf. Knowing Michael, knowing Michael’s competitive nature and knowing that fire that still burns inside him, I think it’s no small coincidence that he agreed to be a part of this project right around the time that the [Golden State] Warriors won 73 games in one season, eclipsing the ’96 Bulls’ 72 wins, and LeBron [James] won a title with Cleveland, and people were starting to have the conversation, “Well, maybe LeBron is the greatest. Maybe Michael’s not the greatest.” So I think a lot of stars aligned creatively, financially, logistically and emotionally for everyone to come to the table and say, “Alright, it’s time to tell this story.”
How did you come up with the parallel structure of telling the story of the ’97-’98 team alongside the overall history of the Jordan-era Bulls and their key figures in the years leading up that season?
We had access to Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman and Phil Jackson. Their stories are so rich, and so deserving of their own documentaries — it felt like an opportunity to do mini documentaries within one macro documentary. And in order to do that, you have to go back in time and you have to tell the story of what made these people who they are. And also to understand the ’97-’98 Bulls, you need to understand the evolution of that franchise, and the evolution of that dynasty — how they became what they were at the time. By ’97-’98, they were a global phenomenon, and just 10 years earlier, they were barely a blip on the NBA radar. So it seemed like an opportunity for us to have the ’97-’98 team be the chronological spine of the doc, given the fact that we had access to this footage, but also to tell the story of the Bulls dynasty and the rise of Michael Jordan through the lens of that season.
There are a number of transition points in the doc. The one that really got me was in the third episode when you use Rodman as the entry point to go back and talk about the Pistons in the late ’80s. How many of those moments were you able to map out in advance?
The fun part was that we have these two converging timelines of the evolution of the Bulls dynasty leading up to their final title, and then the ’97-’98 season, which also leads to the final title. So the timelines converge at the finish line. Then you can work backwards, and you can say, “Okay, we’re going to tell the story of each of the titles that they won, ’91, ’92, and ’93, and ’96 and ’97. So when are we going to introduce ’91?” We can’t wait until after the first half of the series to start introducing when they started winning these titles. So Episode 4 seemed like a good time to have them win their first title in a flashback. And then when you work backwards from there, you have to say, “Okay, in order to tell the story of them beating the Lakers, you have to tell the story of them vanquishing the Pistons, who had been their nemesis for years before that.” And you want to introduce your main characters sooner rather than later. So then you say, “Dennis played for the Pistons. He’s a main character.” He also at that time, chronologically in the ’98 season, which is about a third of the way through the season, started to go off the rails. So there are three story points that all hit at one time and you think, “It seems like Episode 3 is the right time to start introducing this storyline.” It was a fun puzzle to figure out.
The Chicago Bulls fired general manager Gar Forman on Monday after 10 years in the role and 22 years with the team.Bulls fire GM Forman amid front office changes —
The Chicago Bulls fired general manager Gar Forman on Monday after 10 years in the role and 22 years with the team.
The move came soon after the Bulls confirmed the hiring of Denver Nuggets general manager Arturas Karnisovas as the franchise’s executive vice president of basketball operations, which ESPN reported last week.
The Bulls also announced Monday that John Paxson, who previously held Karnisovas’ position, will stay with the team in the new role of senior advisor of basketball operations.
“Gar Forman worked tirelessly for the Chicago Bulls organization, first as a scout and then as an executive,” team owner Jerry Reinsdorf said in a statement. “He made many significant contributions during his time here and helped to bring some of the brightest young basketball talent to our team, from Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson to Jimmy Butler and Coby White. He has been a trusted advisor and friend to me over the years, and on behalf of everyone I want to thank him for his commitment to the organization. Gar will always be a part of our Bulls family.”
Forman was named the 2011 NBA Executive of the Year. The Bulls reached the playoffs seven times during his tenure as general manager.
“It has been an honor and a privilege to work for the Chicago Bulls for more than two decades,” Forman said in the Bulls’ statement. “There is no better ownership group in professional sports than the Reinsdorfs, and I want to thank Jerry and Michael for their support during my tenure. The Bulls organization will always hold a special place in my heart.”
Karnisovas is planning to start discussing Chicago’s GM job with candidates soon, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported last week. The pool is expected to include several assistant GMs: Calvin Booth (Denver), Marc Eversley (Philadelphia), Mark Hughes (LA Clippers) and Matt Lloyd (Orlando), among others.
Paxson had been EVP of basketball operations since 2003 and also served as general manager until Forman took on those duties in 2009.
“John has an invaluable perspective on our organization and where we want to be, and he played an instrumental role in this change by bringing forward the idea of a restructure and reorganization,” Reinsdorf said of Paxson. “I have always held his knowledge and basketball insight in the highest regard, and he has earned my respect as well as that of his peers.”
A big hiring by the Chicago Bulls, aimed at starting the process of restoring that franchise to glory, could have reverberations north of the border too. Read MoreNew Bulls boss could give friend, Raptors assistant Griffin, a long look as coach — Toronto Sun
A big hiring by the Chicago Bulls, aimed at starting the process of restoring that franchise to glory, could have reverberations north of the border too.
The Bulls have agreed to a deal with Arturas Karnisovas to be the team’s executive vice-president of basketball operations, according to numerous reports. Karnisovas spent seven years with the Denver Nuggets, first as assistant general manager, before being elevated to GM under president Tim Connelly. Karnisovas helped build Denver into a top team in the Western Conference and previously worked for the Houston Rockets and the NBA’s basketball operations department.
The connection to the Raptors comes from his playing days. Karnisovas, a former European Player of the Year, played for Lithuania (winners of bronze medals in both 1992 and 1996, with help from Karnisovas) against the Dream Team in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and was a star for Seton Hall, including for two years alongside Nick Nurse’s lead assistant with the Raptors, Adrian Griffin, who replaced Karnisovas as Seton Hall’s top player after he graduated. Both are members of Seton Hall’s hall of fame.
The Raptors denied the Bulls permission to speak with general manager Bobby Webster for the job that eventually went to Karnisovas, but it isn’t expected they would stand in the way of a promotion and homecoming for Griffin, who played for the Bulls and was an assistant coach there from 2010 to 2015. The team, whether it’s Nurse, other coaches, or the front office, has long touted his future as a head coach.
“I mean, he is awesome,” fellow Raptors assistant coach Nate Bjorkgren told a few beat writers in February, ironically before the entire staff went to Chicago, for the NBA all-star weekend.
“He has a great demeanour, he’s going to be a great head coach in the NBA,” Bjorkgren said. “He’s got a nice calming presence about him when he’s showing film to the team when he’s talking to the team. So just his overall feel and approach and knowing how to talk to the players is probably his number one strength.”
The Raptors have been on a nice little run of late and the injury-ravaged Chicago Bulls weren’t about to bring this one to an end. The Bulls hung with Toronto for about a half but the second half of the game was almost all Toronto as the Raptors pulled away for a comfortable 129-102 win. […]Davis celebrates Super Sunday as Raptors extend winning streak — Toronto Sun
(19-33) CHICAGO BULLS, 102 VS. (36-14) TORONTO RAPTORS, 129 SCOTIABANK ARENA SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 2020
TORONTO RAPTORS QUOTES
NICK NURSE (HEAD COACH)
On Terence Davis’s play tonight … I always think of the games I play him six minutes and wonder the hell I am doing. That’s the first thing I think when he is playing like that. I think he has a shooting component that’s pretty high level and you see it a little bit on a night like tonight and that is usually the toughest component to get in this league. There are lots of other areas of the game that he can improve on and will improve on as we continue on here.
On the defence getting more active in the second half … Yeah, we changed the coverages and stuff and there was great activity and that kind of works hand in hand a lot. You change the coverage and you have some early success and then all of sudden the blood is in the water a little bit, they are starting to really go after it, because the coverage helped them and they start feeding off of that a little bit. We did a good job, we stopped the ball a lot better in the second half. First half it was drive, drive, drive, drive, kick, drive, kick. Give them credit, I was like: man. They are playing great. They were really driving it hard, finding the right guys, knocking down shots, zipping it around and they had us scrambling big time in the first half. They were playing great and we had to get that under control a little bit.
On using different defensive coverages to get people engaged … I am not sure if that is what I am thinking. I am thinking that sometimes when you are not guarding them very well, sometimes you switch and hopefully the coverage is going to start guarding them better than you were. A lot of times this year we found that we’ve gone to a zone early, late in the first quarter or something and only for four or five possessions, but that seemed to be the part that (got) us back playing the man a little better for whatever reason. I can’t really explain it other than a rhythm change and a focus change or something. We needed to change the coverages because we couldn’t control the ball in the first half tonight. It wasn’t experimenting or anything tonight, I was just trying to get the ball under control.
TERENCE DAVIS (31 points, four rebounds)
Was there a point in the night when you felt it was going to be special? Not necessarily. I was just shooting the ball. The ball was going in, so I kept shooting.
Was this performance inspired by the fact that you didn’t make it in the rookie All-Star game? It was definitely in the back of my mind, for sure. Throughout the course of the season it will be in the back of my mind, but I’d rather be in the playoffs. I’m not saying that I wouldn’t want to play in the game because that’s a pretty special event, but I would rather play in the playoffs.
What kind of words did Serge Ibaka have for you after? He told me he was proud of me. Like I said, Serge has been a light in my life (as) a rookie, helping me eat right, we go lift after games. We didn’t today because he said we have a few days off, so we’ll get it in. But yeah, he told me he was proud of me. I really took that to heart.
FRED VANVLEET (12 points, eight assists, four rebounds)
On Terence Davis… It’s not surprising. I think for most of us, we kind of saw what kind of player he was going to be early on and he just kept getting better and better throughout the year (and) he puts in the work, so it’s really cool for all of us as teammates to see him have a big night like tonight. We’re all happy for him. I don’t think anybody is thinking about the Rising Stars game too much. I mean, he might be, but for the rest of us, none of us have ever played in it, so what difference does it make. Welcome to the party.
CHICAGO BULLS QUOTES
JIM BOYLEN (HEAD COACH)
On tonight’s game… I thought the first half was one of our better halves. Ball was moving, I think we had 16 assists, made open shots. I thought the third quarter we had the same plays to make, we didn’t make them and I thought we dropped our heads a little bit in that third when the ball wasn’t going in, and they made their run. That’s what we talked about. We got different guys playing, new guys playing and we got guys out. We got to learn how to play in that third quarter when the ball is not going in, that’s what we have to do. It was good to have Gaff (Daniel Gafford) back, we tried to get him some minutes, get him out there, and Luke (Kornet) and Cris (Cristiano Felicio), so we kind of had a three headed monster at the center position tonight to try get Gaff back in the flow a little bit.
On the offensive balance of the team tonight… Again, I thought the ball was moving. I thought we executed the game plan at both ends; they are a hard team to guard. I thought offensively, like I said we had 16 assists, Zach (LaVine) had seven assists, he could have had 15. I thought he was making the appropriate plays and moving that ball. I thought his floor game was really good. I know we’re going to have moments when we don’t score, moments when we struggle with new lineups and new situations, got to keep playing through those moments. I thought there was a point today where we didn’t do a good job of that.
What did you see that got Terence Davis going? I thought he made three off the dribble step-back 3s, I don’t know a defence for that, really. So you have to give him credit on that. Guys have big nights, (Damian) Lillard had 51 last night, guys have big nights.
Would you rather have him shooting the ball or (Pascal) Siakam and (Kyle) Lowry? I thought we did a great job on Siakam, I thought Thad (Thaddeus Young) battled him. Sometimes you have to live with some of those guys. We don’t like bench all-stars, sometimes that happens.
ZACH LAVINE (18 points, seven assists, seven rebounds)
What did you see from the Raptors in the second half? They did their job to win. We threw it away, the same story we do most of the games we lead at half-time or going into the third quarter. You have to figure out how to stop doing that.
Is there anything specific that happened with the team in the second half? We stopped making shots in the second half. They do a good job. They’re a championship team. They know to take away the first option and their going to take the ball out of my hand or show gaps to try to make me force shots. I just try to play the right way and it didn’t work out today.
How do you navigate this stretch of injuries? You just have to go out there and play. Nobody is going to feel sorry for you. They may look at us like it’s an easy win; try to take advantage of it. You just have to go out there and play.
Is there a reason you’re more frustrated by this loss than others? I’m just upset. It gets frustrating when you lose games. I’ve been going through it the last three years here. It just gets frustrating. It’s like anybody else in our position. We’re human. You have human reactions and feelings. I get frustrated eventually.
DENZEL VALENTINE (three points, two assists)
Do you have any extra anxiety going into this week? No, not really. I feel like everything is going to take care of itself. I can’t really control what happens. I just have to come to work every day and be positive and work hard.
What didn’t work in the second half that did work in the first? I felt like Toronto played with a little bit more energy than we did. We have got to come out and play with a little more energy. They played as a team. They play hard. They were the better team today.
What did you think about Terence Davis’ performance today? I was impressed. He came out. His coach gave him the opportunity to showcase what he can do. He took advantage of it. That’s what the league is about. Opportunity and showcasing what you can do. He had a good performance.