Tag Archives: The Last Dance

Sports Can’t Breathe

What a start to the turn of a new decade, 2020 has been relentless. First, the sports world gets shook with a tragic helicopter accident killing nine people including Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter.  Shortly thereafter the world is hit with a Coronavirus pandemic deemed Covid-19.  An invisible menace that’s had us quarantined for the last three months and has claimed thousands of lives.

Then on Monday, May 25th, 2020 on Memorial Day, a day to celebrate our fallen servicemen and women, a police officer took the life of yet another unarmed black man named George Floyd.  You can say my community’s collective breath was taken away in eight minutes and 46 seconds.  Going into the sixth month of 2020, the second half of this year I’m sure we’re all wondering when will the director say cut!

Sports Can’t Breathe

This Is Supposed to Be About Sports

It took me a week to construct this piece because I was angry, upset, and didn’t want my emotions to completely take over my writing. You see, I’m a black man in my 40s, same as Mr. Floyd, and that could’ve easily been me.   I’ve had my experiences with racial profiling from police and civilians.

To see a video of officers of the law who took an oath to protect and serve the community hold down a human being and kneeling on his neck for over eight minutes watching him die is one of the worse crimes to witness.  The disturbing part is this was the third such incident in a month where a black individual was murdered.  What those cops didn’t know is that George Floyd was good friends with former NBA player Stephen Jackson and he would be the catalyst in leading a global protest for justice.

I understand that this is supposed to be a sports column and I can assure it is.  It will just be a little different approach on this one. Almost four years ago it was in a football stadium, 2016, that former San Francisco 49ers   quarterback Colin Kaepernick exercised his American right to protest.  His peaceful protest was to sit during the national anthem to bring awareness to police brutality of black people.

Even after people saw this as disrespectful to our military, he consulted with a serviceman and changed to more appropriate kneeling.  Players began following Kaepernick in this protest and the message was interrupted by President Trump making this issue about respecting the American flag.  The president even went to the lengths of insulting the players and the mothers of these exceptional athletes by calling them sons of b*****s.

NFL Had a Chance to Take a Stand

The NFL and owners had the opportunity to support its diverse players but instead decided it valued its bottom line more than human life.  In the process exiling Kaepernick from the league who never received another contract offer.  One of the most outspoken owners, Jerry Jones, had plenty to say about that protest in 2016. Fast forward to today, crickets.  Countless mothers and fathers being taken away leaving children without parents with no repercussions just doesn’t seem American.

Now the NFL wants to make statements of support for the black community when it’s convenient and is the right thing to do.  It comes off as disingenuous because it took protesting and rioting on a global scale to finally be heard as a community.  The league and its owners could’ve done like their NBA counterparts and given support when it was uncomfortable to the very people that make this a billion-dollar industry.  We’ve all heard the saying “get out of your comfort zone”.  This is supposed to represent growth within one’s self.  Time to get out of your comfort zones.

How Can Sports Make an Impact

One thing we’ve learned since March 11th, 2020 is how important sports are to our way of life.  We can see that from the most-watched documentary in history, “The Last Dance”.  In this instance, though this issue shouldn’t just be blanketed by the restart of the NBA or any sporting event for that matter.  Instead whenever the NBA starts all the players should refuse to play, same for when the NFL starts.

This stance may not happen but a more feasible impactful statement could.  The NFL taking accountability for the lack of understanding of what Kaepernick’s kneeling protest was bringing attention to.  Second, rectify this by teams offering Colin a contract giving him the opportunity, if he chooses, to exit the game his way.  Lastly, at the start of any sporting event letting the clock run for eight minutes and 46 seconds with no movement and displaying the statement, “I can’t breathe”.

This would serve as a reminder that our country as a whole has a lot of work to do eradicating systemic racism and ensuring equality for all Americans.

It’s Time for ‘The Last Dance’

We’re only 3 days away from the start of what will be the GOAT of all sports documentaries, (the ESPN 30 for 30 ’85 Chicago Bears’ currently holds that title).  The highly anticipated 10 part  “The Last Dance,” which documents the extraordinary career of Michael Jordan with the Chicago Bulls; specifically his final season, ‘97-98.

The program will air on ESPN starting Sunday, April 19th and will run every Sunday, through May 17th.   If there are any bright sides to this pandemic this is definitely one for the sports world.  This documentary was not slated to be released until early June but ESPN heard our wish and it was granted.

Time for the Last Dance

Nostalgia…

Oh, the 90s. Hard to believe that decade started over 30 years ago and basketball during that time was some of the best you would ever see, especially if you were from Chicago.  It was the decade where Jordan cemented himself as the greatest basketball player of all time, or the GOAT if you will.  The decade whereby the turn of it the run of the Los Angeles LakersBoston Celtics and Detroit Pistons comes to an end.  Thus, the Chicago Bulls dynasty was born.

Just like the 90s was the golden era of rap, (now the genre is classified as hip hop), it was also the golden age of basketball with the Chicago leading the way.  The Bulls six championships  (via two three-peats) and the sheer dominance of MJ, his Airness, gave the sport a meteoric rise in popularity worldwide.

This was also the time a teammate, Scottie Pippen, developed into a bonafide superstar.  If you need a reference, see his player card and the 1993-94 season…you’re welcome.  In the 1996 campaign, we saw them break the single-season wins record going 72-10, a record that stood pat for 20 years until 2016 when the 73-9 Golden State Warriors broke it.  Some, especially Chicagoans, may say the Warriors really didn’t surpass that Bulls team because the deal wasn’t sealed, no championship!

Who can ever forget one of the greatest shots in not only NBA Finals history but NBA history period!  Michael Jordan’s final career shot over Bryon Russell to defeat the Utah Jazz in the 1997 Finals giving Chicago their sixth NBA championship.  Well, we thought it was his last shot but you’ll have to tune into ‘The Last Dance’ to see.

Reminisce Over You!

Let’s flashback to that 90’s time, think about what you were doing then, (at least those of us that can).  For myself, it was the start of those crucial teenage years we all go through.  My formidable high school and college years as well.  To my fellow Gen X’ers and millennials, who were definitely raised on it, think about the music you were listening to.  My goodness, the music! Personally, it was R&B (it’s final hoorah) and rap (it’s golden era as mentioned before).

The artist that laid their foundations during this time, Jodeci, Mary J Blige, NWA, 2PAC, Jay-Z, Diddy and a host of others.  Just blow the dust off that CD collection and look through it and watch how those memories flow through your mind.  Yes, I said CDs, before the luxury of modern technology that was our Spotify and Pandora.  Who else put their phones to the stereo speaker to record your answering machine greeting?  We can’t reminisce about the 90s without mentioning the fashion, just google the styles for that decade.  You’ll probably see the most popular footwear were Jordans,  which is still true to this day. They debuted 35 years ago; yes 35!

What To Know Before the Big Dance

For those that need to brush up on some history of Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, here are a few points you want to know:

  • Michael Jordan was drafted 3rd overall in the 1984 NBA draft.
  •  Phil Jackson and Tex Winter were the head coach and assistant coach, respectively.  Winter was the architect of the iconic triangle offense that Jackson implemented to perfection.
  • Jerry Reinsdorf is the owner and the late Jerry Krause was the GM.
  • Jordan retired after ‘93 season to play baseball for the Chicago White Sox and returned in the middle of ‘95 season.

Now that we have some info to reference it’s time to dance, I’m sure we’re all in for a great one.  Those who know the history and those who may be just novice, this will give even more insight into Michael Jordan the man and it will be breathtaking.