'The Last Dance' Episode 8 Review: When Michael Jordan is back, everything is right with the world
Quite simply, the message was Jordan wouldn't bow. He earned your respect by playing at his maximum every day and every game
Spoilers for 'The Last Dance' Episode 8
Sometimes to tick Michael Jordan off, all you needed to say was "Good Game, Mike". Especially after an intense, heart-pounding game. One of the things that were spoken about in Episode 8 was how Jordan was relentless when it came to mowing down his opponents. The episode traces Jordan's return from baseball to basketball, his crazy training regimen while filming 'Space Jam' and his scrimmage with fellow Bulls teammate, Steve Kerr.
To start off with, Jordan announces his return with two words "I'm Back". The man was back and he's here to stay. However, it was not a fairytale comeback for the legend as Orlando Magic gave Jordan a reality check— He needed an upgrade. Bringing back his old number, 23 from retirement was still not a complete good luck charm for Jordan as he made less impact than he did when he was his old self. To ensure the Jordan of the old is back, he trained and he trained harder with the need to reconstruct his body.
There is an interesting scene that shows a state-of-the-art dome that has all the fitness equipment and a court for Jordan to train while filming 'Space Jam'. Warner Bros. left no stone unturned for the star as he is shown training like there's no tomorrow. He even gets in some players from different teams for some scrimmage games. Part of some of those sessions was Reggie Miller of the Indiana Pacers.
"I don’t know how he did it,” Miller recounts the day. "How he filmed all day and still had the energy to play for three hours. We would play until like 9 or 10 at night, and he would still have to get weightlifting in. And then his call time was at like 6 or 7 in the morning. This dude was like a vampire, for real."
That was Jordan earning respect. He eventually led the Bulls to a whopping record for 72 regular-season wins. The Bulls trampled their way to winning the '96 NBA Finals by beating Gary Payton and the Seattle Supersonics on Father's day. This would be the first time Jordan lifted a title without his father James by his side and the emotional celebration is a heartwarmer. The archival footage saw Jordan lying on the floor in the locker room with the ball to his face and sobbing. The emotions were raw. They were real.
Then there's that practice session punch-up with Steve Kerr while trying to toughen up the team. "He’s talking all kinds of trash,” Kerr explained. "I’m pissed because we’re getting our ass kicked." And on his part, Jordan reasoned why the rough and tough factor was an absolute necessity. “I’m getting mad because if you’re protecting this guy, that’s not going to help us when we play New York. That’s not going to help us when we play these teams. They’re very physical." Soon enough, Jordan's gameplay in the scrimmages became a lot more physical.
And Kerr just had enough of it. “I have a lot of patience as a human being. But I tend to snap at some point because I’m extremely competitive, too. I’m just not really good enough to back it up, usually. But I’m going. I’m going to fight," Kerr said. That moment, it was Kerr who hit Jordan in the chest and was socked in return in the face. Jordan was kicked out of practice by coach Phil Jackson and the star admitted he had "lost it for a second".
“I just beat up the littlest guy on the court, I feel this small," the legend recollects. Jordan got hold of Kerr's number and said, "It had nothing to do with you. I feel bad.” Kerr also added it was the best thing he ever did by standing up for himself. "He tested everybody he played with. I stood up to him."
Quite simply, the message was Jordan wouldn't bow. He earned your respect by playing at his maximum every day, every game. The episode just sees him trying to give it his best all the time. Even if it meant, toughening the team or upping his skills to the point of zen mode.
'The Last Dance' airs Sundays 9 pm ET on ESPN.