By: Avery Jacobs/ BNC Contributer
That was the feeling, The excitement, and experience of watching Michael Jordan and his flashy moves. America watched Sunday after Sunday as the biggest sports icon to ever play the game, showed why he is the greatest of all-time.
I’m talking about Michael Jordan’s documentary, “The Last Dance.” Since the release of the documentary, ESPN has received tons of credit behind Jordan’s told story.
Quite Frankly, we should tie a bow on it. No, this wasn’t the best documentary produced by ESPN, but it definitely stacks amongst the greatest to ever be produced. However, the greatest, well – that will always be “O.J. Made In America,” which ended up winning an Academy Award, but “The Last Dance” appeared at the right time.
Throughout the documentary, there were a lot of key quotes that stood out to me. No, it’s not the one that everyone may be thinking of. Yes, the media made big headlines and a big deal about Jordan’s emotional breakdown at the end of Episode 7, where Jordan described the price of winning and pushing his teammates to a higher level in order to win championships
But I’m talking about Episode 5. Former Bulls teammate B.J. Armstrong was pretty revealing throughout Jordan’s documentary. The quote strikes a lot of debates over why Jordan is the greatest athlete, competitor and winner of all time.
Armstrong describes Jordan’s mindset when M.J. began combining MVP level of play with winning championships:
“Michael Jordan didn’t even really play basketball anymore, he just figured out how to win the game. He knew how to steer momentum. He knew how to get guys going. Not only was he that good on the offensive end, but he was that good on the defensive end. He was just playing a different game than the rest of us. He let us play, but he was there to win the game.”
What Armstrong is saying is that Jordan’s teammates went out there and played, but when the game was on the line, there was Jordan, who was the X-factor. His level of play and productivity was just different from everyone. This is golden. This is ultimately the “man vs boys” quote. The “chess vs. checkers” quote. Jordan was the man and all the other NBA players were boys.
Along with the praise also comes the hate. Jordan was glorified around the league and by many others for all his great achievements, but he was also exposed as a bully in his own documentary. It was a tough pill to swallow. He was such a living legend in front of the cameras, but behind the cameras he was described as a jerk. He pushed, demanded, and wanted his way only. He was perceived to be very arrogant to teammates and upper-level management. In Episode 7 he acknowledged the idea of being disliked:
“Look, winning has a price. And leadership has a price, so I pulled people along when they didn’t want to be pulled. I challenged people when they didn’t want to be challenged – and I earned that right. When people see this, they are going to say, ‘Well he wasn’t really a nice guy. He may have been a tyrant.’ Well, that’s you because you never won anything. I wanted to win, but I wanted them to win to be a part of that as well. Look, I don’t have to do this. I am only doing it because it is who I am. That’s how I played the game. That was my mentality. If you don’t want to play that way, don’t play that way.”
What’s misleading is the glorification of him being a bully makes it seem as though it’s the only way to win. The fact that Jordan is glorified for his bullying tactics because he produced six rings, makes it seem as though other leadership styles are ineffective unless you’re a bully.
Looking back over all the episodes, watching the documentary showed me that he’s the best, and that he had his own way of winning. The footage was inspirational, capturing Jordan on the floor crying after winning his first title after his dad died. Jordan opening champagne, shouting “six”.
Sunday after Sunday there was always a new favorite moment.