Chicago Bulls vs Utah Jazz is one of the first NBA Finals series I truly remember watching. Watching it from the point of view of the Last Dance, gave some stories a new meaning.
Karl Malone and greatness
Growing up in the ’90s, I don’t remember every detail of basketball. I remember the duo of John Stockton and Karl Malone were great and I have since read and watch extensive highlights of both. But it never hit me until last night how great Karl Malone really was. I was wondering why David Stern congratulated Jordan at one point on his 5th MVP. How’d he not get 6? It’s because Malone won MVP in 1997. That shows his greatness. I think, in hindsight, he might be one of the most underappreciated superstars of all-time.
In today’s game, everyone is buddy buddy with each other, high-fiving and tweeting after games. We always hear about how everyone in the ’90s hated each other. And while that’s mostly true, seeing Karl Malone actually walk onto the Bulls bus after the Finals was something else. That is an all-time class move, to make sure he showed his appreciation to Jordan in person.
What I miss about the ’90s
For starters, the actual basketball. Watching The Last Dance, one of the best parts is seeing scores in the 60s and 70s in the fourth quarter. THAT is basketball. Slow tempo, mid-range jumpers, drawn up set plays, pick-and-rolls, that’s all basketball. Shooting 50 three pointers a game and scoring 130 points is not as pleasing. Not to me, at least. My wife was watching with me and couldn’t comprehend the low scores. Especially, because she enjoys watching the Warriors. But having been a Knicks fan growing up, these low scores are what got me into basketball.
I miss real centers like Shaq, Ewing, Olajuwon, and even Rick Smits. Guys who post-up with their back to the basket. Mid-range jump shooters like Malone. Today, if you can’t shoot a three, you can’t play in the NBA.
I also miss the warm up jackets. Those Bulls jackets were legendary. The Jazz warm ups and the jerseys with the mountains are top 5 jersey design in all of sports. Nowadays, every team has the same generic Nike hoodie to warm up in, with a small logo and no design. And the same jersey with generic word marks. You can read more about the 90s jerseys and logos. But I do very much miss these Bulls warm ups.
How about Jordan walking into the Finals holding a CD player? I wonder how many people reading this article are too young to have ever owned a CD player. I owned several and in a sick, nostalgic way, kind of miss swapping out the CDs on the bus to school. I also very much enjoy flipping through songs on my iPhone too.
Last thought, there was no “maintenance” days in the ’90s. No load management. You played every game unless you physically were unable to play, per doctor’s orders.
The Pizza Game
Shaking my head, Michael…
I have a few issues. For one…
Who is Michael’s security crew?? No one thought 5 dudes delivery a pizza was shady? No one thought , “hm let me try a slice first. This way, we know if it’s poisonous.”. No one vetted the pizza company to make sure it’s legit? I just feel like there’s way more questions then answers. I also think it’s pretty funny that a Utah pizza company poisoned MJ.
But can we PLEASE stop debating who the GOAT is now? Jordan played an NBA Finals game less than 24 hours after being food poisoned. He played 44 minutes and scored 35 points, including the game winner. That’s your GOAT. Now and forever.
Look, growing up I was a huge wrestling fan. I was all into the NWO and Hulk Hogan and all that was going on in WCW. But I was a kid. Dennis Rodman was a grown man, who was paid millions of dollars to play professional basketball. I cannot get over the idea that instead of being at practice, he showed up to WCW to be with Hogan and the NWO. That’s just….. I don’t know. I don’t have words. It’s wild!
I did dig up this gem though. Later that summer, Rodman and Malone, who had their moments in the Finals, opposed each other in a WCW ring.
The Bulls Rebuild
As The Last Dance went off the air, they noted 1998 was the final year with the Bulls for MJ, Phil Jackson, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, and Steve Kerr. And the rebuild began….and has been ongoing for over 20 years.
More on the Bulls rebuild and the horrible NBA Draft run they had.
After beating the Jazz in the 1998 Finals, Bulls had won their 6th Finals in 8 years. Since then, (between 1999-2019), they have won a grand total of 5 playoff series.
4 more random notes
Why did Jordan have to play for the Wizards? That final shot was so epic, so perfect, so MJ. He ruined the ultimate moment by coming back.
Byron Russell was on Michael Jordan’s “list”. A guy who talked trash to MJ, pissing him off and giving him added motivation. That’s why I find it fascinating that in Jordan’s final season, the Wizards signed Russell in 2002-03.
Jeff Hornacek wasn’t featured much Sunday night, but he was a key member of the Jazz. Which reminds me that he was a really bad coach for the NY Knicks
Pacers and Knicks are the two biggest losers from The Last Dance. Both had plenty of chances and both had tons of talent and probably deserved a championship. Knicks made it in ’94 and ’99 post MJ retirements and Pacers made it in 2000. Neither team succeeded.