One More Season?

It was over, Mike.

Jim Rome
May 18, 2020 - 11:23 am
Michael Jordan

USA Today

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Then we get to Episode 10. And if you thought that Jordan was done creating memes, you were dead wrong. The meme machine is still cranking. Like when he’s got his headphones on and he’s rocking out.

It is so interesting to see Jordan that loose and having that much fun. Because most of the series has been about how intense he is and how everything is a personal affront to him.

And if you want to talk about interesting, how about Dennis Rodman wrestling after Game 3 of the Finals? The team is making this run at a three-peat and he flat out left the team and went to hang with Hulk Hogan. In the middle of the NBA Finals?! There’s going to Vegas in the middle of the regular season. And then there’s that. 

The Bulls beat the Jazz in Game 3 and Rodman flies to Detroit to hit Diamond Dallas Page with a chair

I remember when it happened; and I couldn’t believe it then, more than 20 years later, and I still can’t believe it now. Like that is completely amazing. 

I know it’s been said so much almost to the point of it being tired, but can you imagine if that went down now? He left the team during the Finals, missed a practice to be with the WCW and he got paid. Not just paid, but PAID. He reportedly received a quarter of a mill for that. Hell yes he left. In the middle of the NBA finals! If somehow Tom Brady can pull his teammates to the Super Bowl this year, I don’t’ Gronk will be leaving at halftime to wrestle. But Dennis busted out in the middle of the finals, during the last dance, while they were looking to finish off the three peat! That might be the best thing ever. 

As CJ McCollum tweeted: Buddy got paid $250k to miss practice and media during the finals. Bruh really lived a full life! Imagine him in an era like today. His Snapchat would’ve been “ fans only “like

Not just a full life. He’s lived about ten full lives. Tobias Harris tweeted: Yooo let us get 10 more episodes dedicated to Dennis Rodman

And I love the fact that when Phil Jackson was asked about Rodman causing a distraction, he said “He’s only taking your focus away from the Finals. Not ours.”

That is vintage Phil. And sure enough, Rodzilla comes back in Game 4, has 14 rebounds, a pair of clutch free throws, and dude was all energy. All heart. And the Bulls win to take a 3-1 series lead.

Utah won Game 5, which set up Game 6 in Salt Lake City. Pippen’s back locks up and he is a decoy on offense for most of the game. It is easy to forget just how jacked up his back was.  Just like it was easy to call Scottie soft because of the migraine game; and his refusal to re-enter a playoff game. Yet he was out there, playing in excruciating pain and not just as a decoy but making some plays: some critical plays.  

And then you get the moment the series has been building towards. The Bulls down by one, Utah with the ball. Roll it.

And that is it. The last shot…

Of Michael Jordan’s time with the Chicago Bulls. Because of course he came back with Washington and took a lot of shots and lost a lot of games. But this wasn’t about that. 

And it also about Jordan getting the ultimate revenge on Bryon Russell, the dude he added to the list when he was playing baseball.

And if you think Jordan pushed off on that shot, he has a thought for you.

He did not push off. Russell was on skates after that crossover. That was nowhere near the shove that Reggie Miller executed on Jordan earlier. Miller treated Jordan like a blocking sled. Jordan treated Russell, as Bob Costas said, like a maître de showing you to your table.

But the series didn’t end there. And neither did the memes. Because if you want a meme, all you need to do is hand Michael Jordan an iPad with someone talking about him and he will give you a reaction for the ages. And he had that when Jerry Reinsdorf talked about the possibility of bringing the team back for a seventh title. 

And like so many other champions, Jordan is thinking about the one he didn’t get instead of the six he did. Because if six is great, seven is even better.

Not just bummed out that they didn’t get another chance, but he can’t accept it. "We may not have, but man, just to not be able to try, that's something that I just can't accept for whatever reason. I just can't accept it.”

And I see where he’s coming from. He would want the right to defend what he’d built, but that was never going to happen. Are you telling me that Scottie Pippen would turn down the 67 mill he received in a sign and trade with Houston in order to sign a one year deal in Chicago? After the way the team had burned him on his contracts? That was his final chance to get a big deal. He wasn’t staying. For who? Mike? For what? To get a 7th ring: you think he was going to trade that 7th ring for 60 plus million: hell no: he already had six. And that was his last chance to get paid. Legacy be damned: besides, his legacy was already secured: and that 7th ring wasn’t guaranteed; but his next contract pretty much was. 

And if Phil had stayed. And if Rodman had stayed. And even if they all did that, again, there’s no guarantee they would’ve repeated. Sure, they would’ve benefited from the shortened season in 99, but Jordan had mangled his finger in a cigar cutter accident that offseason and had to have surgery.

As Ramona Shelburne writes: Jordan contends that he wouldn't have been messing around with the cigar cutter (at a golf tournament in January) if Reinsdorf had already secured a commitment from Jackson to come back.

That is one hell of a contention by Jordan. You’re telling me that the guy who has been on our screens for the last five weeks lighting one cigar off another, wouldn’t have been messing around with a cigar cutter if Phil Jackson was coming back? Hell no. He wasn’t putting down the cigars for nothing.

And if he was only doing a stunt with a cigar cutter because he knew he wasn’t coming back, what kind of a weird world is he living in? Oh, I’m not going to play basketball this year, might as well just hack up my finger with a cigar cutter.

Again, I respect the hustle, the effort, and the will to believe that Chicago might have been able to four-peat, and maybe they could have. I know the Knicks were the team that came of the East that year and they were the 8-seed. So anything is possible. But as The Last Dance showed, as great as that Bulls team was, they were running on fumes at the end. And they weren’t running that back. That had been decided long ago, even if they did win their sixth. And as much Jordan could will just about anything, that was bigger than him; way too many moving parts; way too many factors. And the tip of the digit that he thought was the end of his cigar. And even when Reindsorf tried to make a last ditch effort to save it, it was too little too late. At that point, there was no way they were running it back. No matter what Jordan says.