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Could the Bulls Have Won a 7th Championship?

The Last Dance Episodes 9 & 10

What time is it?! It is the finale of The Last Dance 30 for 30 documentary. While the previous 4 episodes focused more on Michael Jordan, the final episodes concluded the 1997 and 1998 championship runs for the Chicago Bulls. There were short detours with exploring the death of Steve Kerr’s dad and Jordan’s relationship with his personal security guard. Instead we got a highlight driven narrative of the grueling playoff series against the Pacers and Jazz. Director Jason Hehir touched on all the famous moments.

You still gotta gotta come through Chicago

Jordan addresses the media after losing to the Pacers

Eastern Conference Finals 1998

Reggie Miller believed his Pacers were the better team. Indiana tested the Bulls. This was the one series where I thought the Bulls might actually lose. The series went to 7 games but luckily for the Bulls, the series finished in Chicago. Miller admits his team lacks championship experience and it cost them in game 7. The most important lesson that Miller learned,

Don’t ever talk trash to Black Jesus

 It Was Not the Flu, It Was Food Poisoning

Game 5 of the 1997 NBA finals will always be known as ‘the flu game.’ Jordan actually had food poisoning the night before by eating a whole pizza by himself. The documentary oddly insinuates that the pizza delivery guys in Utah somehow spiked the pizza. Jordan went on to vomit all night. Of course Jordan dominates and the Bulls end up winning. Food poisoning definitely diminishes the mystical nature of this performance. Not knowing the truth protected the legendary status of game 5. The performance came down a notch in my book.

They Can’t Win Until We Quit

Jordan wanted to quit but he didn’t. In game 6 of the NBA finals against the Jazz, Pippen hurt his back making him a decoy for the rest of the game. The best part was Jordan throwing shade at Bryon Russell, Utah Jazz guard, who defended him on the winning shot. As a Bulls fan, of course I think Jordan didn’t push Russell. One particular angle it may seem that way but from other angles you can see Russell trip over himself.

The Bulls managed to beat the Jazz for the second straight year. Somehow, someway they won. While Jordan came back to play with the Wizards years later, game 6 is the closing moment of Jordan’s legacy.

Jordan plays celebrates in his hotel

Could the Bulls Win Another Championship in 1999?

Would Jordan quit the following year? He said it was maddening that he left on top. At the same time, the weight of the season, the media, and the mob of fans drained everything from Jordan. He was done. The following NBA season was a shortened season however. So if there’s one season the veteran Bulls could coast to the playoffs, this was the one.

Does Pippen come back? Jordan said he would definitely have come back for 1 year with Phil Jackson. Pippen was done with Krause. He needed to get paid. Does Rodman return? His career tailspinned the following year and never recovered so it is hard to tell. Bulls fans would have loved to see if they could. Instead, Chicago got a rebuild.

The Last Dance is over. A truly depressing realization. This documentary came at a perfect time where there are no sports to watch. This felt like a sporting event. 670 the Score, a Chicago sports radio station, even had “post game” discussion following the finale. I felt connected with Chicago fans again.

Finals thoughts? I will leave that for next week. There’s a lot to digest with this documentary. Now I can finally binge the whole thing!  There are several winners and losers to come from this documentary. I will share my picks, gripes, and pure sadness that this is the final chronology of the Jordan era.

Written by Conor ODonnell

Conor is the editor and co-host of the WCW vs NWO Podcast which reviews WCW PPVs 96-98. He is also the editor for highly acclaimed Arena Decklist Podcast which delves deep into the Magic: the Gathering tournament scene.

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