Episodes 7 and 8 took us back to Michael Jordan’s sudden departure from basketball in 1993, a short baseball career, and return to basketball while following the start of the 1998 playoffs. A few moments we already saw, like MJ finding a reason to be mad at somebody to perform, and a lot of stories we already know of. What stands out seeing them all in one place is the picture they paint - Michael Jordan is human. If you need a reminder to the stories, here’s an overview.
- The LaBradford Smith story
- MJ announcing his retirement in 1993
- How MJ explained his reasons for retirement to teammates
- How the Bulls found out MJ is coming back
- The famous “Double Nickle” game in MSG
- The Magic beating MJ and Nick Anderson saying 45 isn’t 23
- How Gary Payton defended MJ in the Finals
- Jordan’s emotional father’s day game 6 in ’96 Finals
- MJ being hard on teammates
The documentary shows us the unfortunate events surrounding the death of MJ’s father and the chain of events it started. The media began to speculate if MJ’s gambling had something to do with his father’s passing, and it culminated with his retirement in 93. All that followed were pieces in a puzzle that revealed that Michael Jordan is actually human. Nothing illustrated it more than MJ’s first game back in 95.
“The much-heralded return of superstar Michael Jordan got off to a rocky start. His shooting touch was missing, and his shorts were on backward.”
The Last Dance
Alas, he bleeds. The man who went 6-6 in the Finals, almost everyone’s no.1 choice to take the final shot in a big game, was so nervous he had his shorts backward. Michael Jordan was not as confident and impervious on the basketball court as we all believe. One of Jordan’s main explanations for leaving was that he had achieved everything; there was nothing left to prove.
We saw that for Michael Jordan, every game had the burden of proving what we all knew. Would “failure” in that first game back make him seem any less immortal? No. He obviously still worried it would. It’s hard to imagine Michael Jordan being nervous in a basketball game, but he was.
We assume that all the winning he had done up to that point meant he was over that. Episodes 7 and 8 were a great reminder that even the greatest often share the same fears we would, despite everything they had already achieved. Most of the time, it’s not because of what we would think of them. But more so because of the doubt we all have about ourselves. JOrdan's path to greatness was to do the opposite of what most us try to do.
While we try to get rid of that doubt to live a more comfortable life, Michael Jordan stoked that fire, even made up doubt when there was none there. That's the price of greatness he was willing to pay and made sure his teammates did too.