“The Last Dance”

Anyone watching this? Any thoughts? I’m pretty blown away by it. Incredible documentary.

I’m surprised by how much behind the scenes footage they dug up that I had not seen. Really made me miss 80s and 90s era basketball. I don’t care about today’s game. If the NBA season resumes, I’ll have playoff games on the TV but it will be muted, I will be listening to music instead, and I’ll be cooking or fixing things around the house. That documentary had 100% of my attention.

From last night’s episodes, some things that stuck out:

The Indiana Pacers had a very underrated team, they were a much more complete team than I had remembered. The Bulls were very tired and beat up after playing them. The Jazz had an easier path to the finals.

Wow, Jazz fans came across looking backwards and crazy and even attempted to poison MJ apparently.

Karl Malone sticking around to congratulate the Bulls on their team bus as they left was a class act.

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That Pacers team was great. Mark Jackson, Reggie Miller, Jalen Rose, Dale Davis, Rick Smits etc. I’m surprised they were never able to win one. They lost to the Knicks in 99 and then the Lakers in 00. It was pretty much over after that.

I worked for NBC Sports during the NBA Finals here in SLC. Lots of funny stories came from that, but here are my top 3:

  1. We’re down in the receiving bay in our portable office watching the players come and go. Most of the players roll up in Benz’s, Lexus’s etc. Karl Malone arrives on a Harley. Greg Foster is a pimped out Suburban. Big Dawg - Pontiac Sunfire he could barely fit in. I honestly loved Big Dawg after that.

  2. Bus with the Bulls would arrive, they’d all get off wearing very expensive suits. Various women get off the bus along with them, most Rick James would describe as 'the kind you don’t take home to mother." Dennis Rodman got off the bus while smoking a Sherlock Holmes pipe once.

  3. Contrast that with John Stockton after a game loading one of his sleeping kids into a van. Media circus of cameras comes up and gets in his face, waking his kids. “YOU JUST WOKE MY KID!!!” he blasts them, all cameras go off and they all skulk away. Stockton wasn’t just great a breaking picks, it appears. John Stockton is wearing a teal green izod shirt, a white belt and Dockers. I’m told at the time that John Stockton signed memorabilia is more valuable than Jordan’s because Stockton basically won’t sign anything, ever.

Bonus: I worked primarily supporting ‘the talent’ - meaning the on air people, and had some great interactions with most of them. Bill Walton was universally hated by all the other talent there. One night we arranged for a local restaurant to stay open late for them to get a bite after the game. Two Cadillacs show up to take about 7 of them there. Walton says, “I’m getting in this one!” And hops in a Cadillac, the others all look at each other and 6 pile in the other car sitting on each others laps like high school kids. That’s something to see when Hannah Storm piles in a car like that.

Another Bonus: I’m about 22-years-old in college and obviously just a runner. I am the least qualified or informed person in the arena. Marv Albert is in the middle of his prostitute biting scandal; he is surrounded by these mafia looking goons at all times. I’m with all the NBC employees, producers and everyone else is a green room before the game starts. I’m standing in the corner available waiting for my next assignment. Marv has just had his makeup done and for some reason decides I’m the guy in the room who should know what is going on and comes over and screams in my face, “WHERE THE F*** IS MY MICROPHONE!!!” And then proceeds to berate me for 30 seconds or so until some producers scramble to calm him down.

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For some reason, that doesn’t surprise me. I know a lot of folks consider him a “national treasure”, but I just don’t see it.

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This was an interesting experience for me as a college kid and opened my eyes to a lot of things. This job lead to me working for HBO Sports for a while, and also lead to a job with Columbia Records / Sony Music. As a result I got to interact with a lot of famous people all while being a very unimportant person in that universe by any measure.

I’ve seen the ‘Shopping Cart’ meme going around a lot lately - which claims it is a test of one’s character in what you do with a shopping cart - because there is no incentive nor penalty for returning a shopping cart. One that existed before this was in my opinion how a famous person would treat a runner or ‘production assistant’. Again, no incentive to be nice to them really, nor a penalty if they treat you like crap.

For example, Dr J and his family. Once I was assigned to take care of their needs. As a runner you’d just try to basically stay out of the way but be available for whatever they needed. So during one finals game I’m standing back in the corner of the suite where they are watching the game (Dr J was on set). His wife sees me standing in the corner and invites me to come and sit with her family and enjoy the game. I decline and she insists, some of the nicest people I’ve ever met.

I told you about Marv Albert. Many of them were indifferent to the runners which I felt was understandable. Bill Walton was an absolute jerk to all the runners. I wouldn’t be surprised if that poisoned pizza Jordan purportedly got wasn’t intended for Walton from one of the runners. He would intentionally demean and belittle people. He seems affable enough on TV today (depending on how high he is) and this was over 20 years ago - but at the time I MIGHT have taken my foot off the gas if he walked in front of my car.

Actually, I take it back, to ME it seems like Dave Pasch wants to murder Walton about every game. Every time I watch I admire his professionalism because I don’t think many can do what he does with Walton.

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Good stories. I can’t stand Walton. He has plenty of defenders for some reason.

I was Ty Corbin’s neighbor during his playing days.

He, Stockton and Hornacek would often carpool to games. They’d pick Ty up and if we were outside when they drove past he’d often offer me his tickets.

I don’t know anyone who has much nice to say about Stockton the person. Some of the stories I’ve heard are pretty sad.

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Yeah I’ve heard of him being pretty short with fans over the years. He’s a damn good interview though.

Rumor has it that Hornacek and Keefe were the only players on that team who weren’t in open relationships. Comes from a credible source who personally knew Hornacek and Keefe.

Does the credible source know for sure that the other players WERE in open relationships?

I’ve heard bad stories about Stockton too, but hearing that he was in an open relationship seems odd.

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I thought the same thing. The friend in question used to wine and dine Jazz players. That’s all I can really say. I’m inclined to believe it.

Had a friend who was Stockton’s neighbor, a couple of doors down. Neighborhood kids see him out in his yard, ask him for his autograph, kids get SLAMMED by Stockton. As my friend said, “I get not wanting to be bothered when you are out to eat or whatever, but to neighborhood kids? C’mon…”

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That’t the story I heard. Supposedly lots of expletives were involved.

I can’t be the only one who wants to hear more about that.

The exact opposite of Ty Corbin.

He’d come shoot hoops with us, would bring his kids to the neighborhood birthday parties and lift kids up to dunk.

And, I sat in his seats more than once. With all the players families.

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Terrific series. Jordan is in my generation and at the time, enjoyed the NBA, although Bird was my guy. Today, the officiating has made the NBA unwatchable, Nevertheless, I consider Lebron the GOAT. If Zion can stay healthy for 20 years, he may end up being the GOAT.

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Ugh… don’t remind me. I’m a huge Pacers fan for some reason. Those years are the years that made me a fan. Wonderful, painful years.

That looks like a “good, not great” NBA team to me.

C - Rick Smits*
PF - Antonio Davis*
SF - Chris Mullen*$
PG - Mark Jackson*
SG - Reggie Miller*$

C - Dale Davis*
PF - Derrick McKey
SF - Austin Croshere
PG - Travis Best
SG - Jalen Rose

    • NBA All-Star
      $ - NBA Hall of Fame

Six All-Stars, two HOFers, the other 4 contributors off the bench were solid starters on other teams.

Larry Bird as HC.

I can’t think of another team with that much talent that didn’t win a championship.

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Meh… Call it what you want. I don’t really care. When I said great, I wasn’t really talking about their historical significance. I was really just talking about the level of enjoyment I got from watching them. They had a few very good players that were nearing the end of their careers (jackson, mullen), and a ton of solid role players. Davis, McKey, Croshere, Best, and Rose would be the best bench in the NBA today.

They were a very deep team, but lacking in true star power. Reggie is my favorite player of all time, and I believe he is criminally underrated as a shooter, and player overall… but he wasn’t on Jordan’s level, and nobody on his team was anywhere near Pippen’s level.

I wish Reggie could play in today’s game, alongside another high level 3 pt shooter. With the way the game is called these days, he would get open shots every time down the court. Heck, he’d probably have somewhere around 15-20 pts a game just from free throws alone.

He’s basically Clay Thompson with 10x the competitive drive.