“The Last Dance” aired episodes 5 and 6 of the 10-part series about the Chicago Bulls dynasty in the 1990s. We got some more insight into Michael Jordan and the Bulls’ championship teams in the early and late 90s. Here, we’ll be going over each episode and breaking down the inside footage provided.
The Last Dance Episode 6 Recap: First Three-Peat
Early in the second episode of the night, we’re staring down the first three-peat with the Bulls taking on the Knicks in the 1993 Eastern Conference Finals. Pat Riley and the Knicks taking on Jordan’s Bulls. Charles Oakley is back! The Knicks are really trying to channel the Detroit Pistons, but Chicago wasn’t having any of that. New York goes up 2-0 at home. Pressure on Jordan. Is this it for the Bulls chances at a three-peat?! Hmmmmm, I wonder what happens next ...
This didn’t happen next but the episode also includes a Jordan-Seinfeld meeting. Thanks Jeff Eisenband:
Jordan downplaying the Atlantic City trip, which is ahhhhh suuuuure bud. I’ve been to AC many a time and you don’t just go for a few hours to gamble. Still, if Jordan says he’s OK, then he’s OK. Of course, the media would trash Jordan only to watch what he’d do next.
Before we get to the Bulls beating the Knicks, we need to get into Slim Bouler and MJ. Gambling, loans, late nights. Is a problem coming up with Jordan? Well, he was addicted to gambling, which isn’t anything to joke about. Jordan’s gambling struggles are well documented.
The series is tied. Bulls up by one late in MSG. Horace Grant, MJ and Pippen smother Charles Smith, who can’t find the basket. Bulls go up 3-2 and win the series in six games. The Knicks would get their chances to win a title, faltering both times to the Houston Rockets and then Indiana Pacers.
I love how Jordan’s golf game was as ferocious as his basketball game. Well, not in the results. But MJ took golf pretty much just as serious as hoops. Especially when you consider all the money at stake most of the time.
Add Dan Majerle to the list of Krause’s guys who motivated Jordan enough to win a title. Bulls take Game 1 from the Suns, who were the best team in the NBA that season and had League MVP Charles Barkley. After stealing Patrick Ewing’s soul, Jordan had his sights on Barkley’s. The Bulls end up beating the Suns in six games. Hats off to Barkley for making it a series, but in the end, nobody thought Jordan would be denied his third straight title.
Now, we’re toward the end of the episode. Jordan’s potential retirement. Bulls vs. Jazz 2. Chicago starts off the run against the New Jersey Nets in the first round.
The Last Dance Episode 5 Recap: The Dream Team vs. Toni Kukoc
Before anything, we got into MJ’s last All-Star game, foreshadowing Kobe Bryant a bit. Kobe’s first All-Star game back when he was 19 years old was also Jordan’s final one. It was a passing of the torch for Jordan to his protege Bryant. We didn’t get the Kobe interview in Episode 5 but it’s coming.
Episode 5 goes into the Bulls picking up where they left off after winning their first championship in 1991 over Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers. It was the title that really thrust MJ into the spotlight and among the greats like Magic and Larry Bird. It helped to start solidify Jordan’s career, but at the time nobody really knew what was brewing. Not only did the Bulls rip off back-to-back titles, but Jordan and Scottie Pippen demolished Clyde Drexler and the Portland Trail Blazers in the 1992 NBA Finals.
This was a good transition into Jordan’s rise as a shoe icon. Converse, Adidas and Reebok all tried to land Jordan, but ultimately he ended up with Nike. Jordan’s impact on pop culture knows no bounds, but his presence in the shoe game is unquestioned. Where would we be without Air Jordan? What was bigger than Jordan’s shoe game? The Dream Team.
Magic had just passed the torch to Jordan after that title win and then MJ went and got another title. So the Dream Team was formed, but nobody really knew who the top dog would be on the team. We got some great inside look at Magic vs. Jordan in a Dream Team practice, with Johnson getting under Jordan’s skin constantly. All MJ did was go at Magic and show whose team it really was.
The Dream Team’s only real competition was Croatia, led by a familiar face if you’re a Bulls fan. Toni Kukoc! The poor guy ... He didn’t know what was coming. Kukoc was viewed by Bulls GM Jerry Krause as somebody who could come in and replace Pippen. That the money Scottie thought he deserved would be better served going to someone like Kukoc. Well, Pippen wasn’t having any of that. Jordan and Pippen dealt with Kukoc in their first meeting and made Kukoc look pedestrian, not ready for the NBA at all. Kukoc would bounce back but the message was sent by Jordan and Pippen.
The episode gets into Jordan’s impact on politics when Harvey Gantt was running for Senator out of the state of North Carolina. Jordan’s controversial comments saying “Republicans buy shoes too” was taking with some backlash. Jordan didn’t directly back Gantt and he went on to lose to Jesse Helms twice. It’s crazy to think Jordan’s impact could have cost Gantt the election, not to say that it did.