The Fifth Episode Of The Last Dance

Kobe, Dream Team, Zeke and more.

Jim Rome
May 04, 2020 - 9:38 am
Dream Team

USA Today

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The fifth episode of The Last Dance played some of the familiar hits. Jerry Krause has weird takes. And Michael Jordan hates him. And Michael Jordan hates Isiah Thomas. And someone is going to get humiliated.

Let’s start with Krause. In case you had forgotten about Jerry Krause.., pretty early on in Episode 5, you have yet another reminder from him that 1998 will be Phil Jackson’s last season with the Bulls and if Michael Jordan really means it when he says he won’t play for any other coach, that’s fine. And he can go with Phil. That take will never not be dumb to me. That is a legendarily dumb take. We have Michael Jordan, but we’re going to let him walk, after six rings because I’m the GM, and I don’t like the head coach. By the way, if you are the GM, what the hell is not to like about the head coach? He won six rings; isn’t that the point of the game. Isn’t that the point of the business? To win everything. And Phil was doing that. And on top of that those were not easy teams to coach. It wasn’t just a matter of just rolling the ball out to Mike. Huge egos. Huge personalities. All of which had to be managed. And Jackson did a great job. He literally was the best man for that gig: and was killing it. Yet Krause wanted to run him off. And if he ran him off, that meant losing Jordan as well. Again, an all time, horrible take. Imagine thinking that. And then imagine saying it out loud, repeatedly. And where the hell was owner Jerry Reinsdorf to talk him out of it??

Of course the stupidity of that was shortly erased by the coolness of the 1998 All-Star Game in New York City. Jordan at the Garden is always legendary. Jordan at the Garden in an All-Star Game is even better. And Jordan at the Garden in an All-Star Game talking about Kobe before the game is the best.

That was cool as hell.

And then Magic came into the locker room. And Jordan was giving it to him. And then there was Larry in the hallway. If the whole episode was just an hour of guys talking bleep at that All-Star Game, I would’ve been thrilled.

And then there was this from Kobe.

That part of the episode was so surreal. It’s so surreal to see Kobe talking like and that and to know that he’s not actually here anymore. That will never not be surreal.

And as much as you could see Jordan’s love for Kobe at the memorial, in that clip, you can see the love and respect from Kobe to Mike.

“I don’t five championships here without him.” That is pretty much the highest praise you’ll ever hear.  I’ve never heard Kobe say anything like that before. 

And then the episode shifted to the Dream Team experience. And of course, if we’re talking Dream Team in this documentary series, we aren’t just talking about the guys who made the team, we’re talking about the guy who didn’t make the team.

According to Jordan, "Before the '92 Olympics, (selection committee chairman) Rod Thorn calls me and says, 'We would love for you to be on the Dream Team." I say, 'Who's all playing?' He says, 'What does that mean?' I say, 'Who's all playing?' He says, 'Well, the guy you're talking about or you're thinking about, he's not going to be playing.'"

The guy you’re talking about is of course Isiah Thomas. And in case you had somehow forgotten in the last seven days, Michael Jordan still does not think much of Isiah Thomas. In fact, he hates him.  Not, HATED him. But HATES him. Still. Right now, even as we speak.

Not my words, MJ’s. I’m not reading into this. He flat out says it.

"I respect Isiah Thomas' talent. To me, the best point guard of all-time is Magic Johnson and right behind him is Isiah Thomas. No matter how much I hate him, I respect his game. Now, it was insinuated that I was asking about him, but I never threw his name in there."

It really is amazing to me that nearly thirty years later, he still hates him as much now as he did then. I mean, I’m not surprised, but I am impressed. 

In other spots, like Jack McCallum’s Dream Team book, it appears that Jordan did actually say something about Isiah. According to McCallum, he spoke to both Rod Thorn and Chuck Daly about Isiah.

Again, generally what we’re seeing right now is Michael’s version of everything. Or the version that he wants to present now. And that’s fine. 

Whether he did or did not actually say something, it doesn’t really matter. He didn’t actually have to say how he felt about Isiah because everyone already knew. And it’s not like Scottie Pippen liked Isiah. Pippen didn’t want him on the team. And Magic had fallen out with Isiah as well. So I don’t know whether Mike ever hit them with a “it’s him or me” ultimatum. But he didn’t need to. USA Basketball already knew.  And they knew mike.  So they had to know if they wanted mike to commit to the Olympics, that was going to be a helluva easier to do without Isiah. And as great a player as Isiah was, it’s not like they needed him to win. Far from it.

One guy who did make the team was Clyde Drexler. So you would think this would be a pretty cool episode for Clyde Drexler. And you would be wrong.

Because every episode has a guy who’s going to get crushed. Jerry Krause. Craig Ehlo. And last night, it was Clyde Drexler.

And all Clyde did was have the misfortune of being compared to Michael Jordan.  Key phrase: being compared to Michael Jordan. He didn’t compare himself to Michael Jordan.  He had others do it: and it was the worst thing that could happened to Clyde. And the Blazers. Because you knew it only going to piss mike off:  "I'm not saying [Clyde] wasn't a threat. But me being compared to him, I took offense to that."

Well, now you've done it, Clyde. And to the question of what did Clyde do? The answer is: he played basketball very well and someone else made the mistake of comparing him to Jordan.

That is some next level fuel and petty. Clyde Drexler is one of the greatest players in the history of the game. And Jordan was taking offense that someone compared the two of them.

You knew as soon as you heard that, you knew Clyde was about to catch some. And he did. You got the Jordan Shrug in Game 1. And it was officially on.

Jordan went out and attacked him every single night in the finals. If there is a moral to this series, it’s that if Michael doesn’t like you, he won’t just beat you, he will humiliate you.  He’s not looking to just win, he’s looking to snatch your soul: he’s looking to destroy you. It doesn’t matter what you do. Or in fact, did nothing at all. 

Like Clyde. What did he do other than play the game at a hall of fame level? And help his team... You might be like Clyde Drexler, just going out and being great, and then some other random person has the audacity to compare you to Jordan and Jordan hears about it, and now you have to pay. Clyde had to be like, what the hell did I ever do this guy! I know what he hates Isiah, but what the hell did I ever do him. I’ll tell you what you did, Clyde: you played well enough for SOMEONE ELSE to compare you to him, and now it’s your ass!! 

Instead of the Last Dance, they should have just titled this series, here’s A List of Guys Michael Jordan Hates.

And I would still watch it. Because there is no hatred like Michael Jordan’s hatred of someone. That is the purest, cleanest, rocket fuel ever. It doesn’t matter if you’re an opponent or his own GM, if he doesn’t like you, he’s going to destroy you.  

And there’s a good chance if your name is Jerry Krause, he’ll not only humiliate you, he’ll also humiliate someone you love. Like Toni Kukoc. Or Dan Majerle. Bad things happen to good people when good people get compared to Michael Jordan.