The Last Dance miniseries was a godsend during quarantine. It allowed us to commune over sports again. The ten-part documentary did a great job recounting the tale of the fabled Jordan Bulls. Although the series is good, it isn’t perfect. Jordan is very protective of his personal life. Limited access and restrictions aside, there were still a few blind spots. Here are ten things the Last Dance left out.
The All-Star Freezeout
Legend has it that in the 1985 NBA All-Star game a conspiracy was hatched by Isiah Thomas, Magic Johnson, and George Gervin. They planned to freeze Jordan out of the offense during the game because they were jealous of his rising star. They didn’t pass the ball to Jordan and he finished with a measly seven points. The snub was a big item on Jordan’s fabled “revenge list”.
Craig Hodges was a great NBA shooter. Hodges and Larry Bird are the only two players to win three consecutive Three-Point Contests. He was with the Bulls for four seasons including their 1991 and 1992 NBA championships. The Last Dance talked about Jordan skipping the Bulls 1991 trip to the White House, but failed to mention that Craig Hodges was the big story. Hodges created controversy because he dressed in a dashiki and delivered a hand-written letter addressed to then-President George H. W. Bush. The letter expressed frustration with the way Bush’s administration treated minorities. It is believed that he was waived by the Bulls and subsequently blackballed from the NBA due to his activism.
Pippen’s got a gun
Scottie Pippen’s relationship with the public started to sour long before he refused to go in or held out for more money. I believe it unfairly started to go south here. In January of 1994, Pippen went out to eat after a poor in-game performance. While Pippen was in a restaurant Chicago police noticed a gun in his illegally parked car. Although he had a license for the weapon, Pippen was still arrested for having it in public. Charges were dropped, but the damage to Pippen’s reputation unfairly remained. I mean he was a rich guy driving around Chicago’s west side. He would’ve been stupid not to take precautions.
Scottie’s Bulls were screwed in 1994
The Last Dance documentary was quick to point out that Scottie Pippen famously sat out for a crucial 1.8 seconds during the 1994 NBA Eastern Conference semifinals. The documentary seemed to blame Pippen’s poor attitude for the series loss. What it didn’t tell you was that the biggest reason the Bulls didn’t advance was because of a phantom call by official Hue Hollins. The Bulls led the Knicks by one with 2.1 seconds remaining in Game 5. Hubert Davis missed a game-winning shot but was bailed out by a phantom call on Pippen. It was a call you just didn’t get back then, especially in the physical playoffs. Davis made his free throws and won the game. The Bulls won the next game, but the Knicks wound up winning the series in seven games.
Jordan to the Warriors
In 1995 a retired Michael Jordan sent the rumor mill into overdrive because he participated at a Golden State Warriors practice. However, the big to-do was for nothing. Jordan went to the practice to visit his friend, Rod Higgins. Supposedly Tim Hardaway and Latrell Sprewell talked too much smack to Jordan. This caused Jordan to borrow Chris Mullin’s gear and give the Warriors some work.
Ok, this one probably doesn’t belong on the ten things the Last Dance left out. However, it’s still an interesting 90s Bulls factoid. In 1996 Scottie Pippen endorsed a drink made by McCain foods called Zippin. He starred in a commercial for the drink that had a super catchy theme song (”Zippin! Pippen, Zippin! Pippen…). Although fondly remembered, there is no known copy of the commercial in existence. Hence the formation of an online group dedicated to finding it. So, check your VHS tapes, and if you find it call the President!
Rodman needed those days off
The Last Dance made a big deal about Dennis Rodman taking time off during the 1997–98 season. He was a workhorse that season and played 80 of the 82 games. It’s hard to argue that Dennis didn’t deserve the time when you compare it to today’s time of “load management”. I also think the documentary missed the opportunity to point out that while Rodman portrayed the bad guy on the court and in the ring, Malone was a much worse person in real life. The Mailman delivered cheap shots, hit on teammates’ wives, was against Magic Johnson’s comeback from HIV, and is a deadbeat dad. However, the miss understood Rodman is regarded as the villain. nWo 4 life!
Apparently, Luc Longley wasn’t interviewed for budgetary reasons, which is a shame. He was not only a key contributor to the Bulls, but he was also the first Australian to play in the NBA. He blazed a trail for future players like Andrew Bogut, Patty Mills, and Matthew Dellavedova.
“The Mailman doesn’t deliver on Sunday”
I believe the Last Dance series was unfair to Pippen because it was quick to point out things he did wrong and left out things he did right. They left out one of the best Pippen moments and maybe the best psych-outs in NBA history. On Sunday, June 1, 1997, Karl Malone found himself on the free-throw line with a chance to take the lead late in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Pippen whispered in Malone’s ear that “the Mailman doesn’t deliver on Sunday”. Malone missed both free throws and the Bulls won as a result.
The Last Dance gave him some screen time as a Cleveland Cavalier but it should have also mentioned how important Ron Harper was to the Bulls. He was a necessary part of the aging Bulls’ final championship runs because of his defensive presence. Harper was a lockdown defender in all 82 games in 97’-98’, all while averaging 5 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 11.2 points per game. He is also a compelling figure because of his battle to overcome a severe stutter. Harper donates his time to the National Stuttering Association to this day.