LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- On the morning after "The Last Dance,” I found myself wishing ESPN dropped the final eight episodes so I could binge my basketball fix.
It’s not going down that way.
We must wait until Sunday night for the next pair of one-hour episodes about Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, (designated bad guy) Jerry Krause and the remainder of the Chicago Bulls’ six championship NBA dynasty.
Patience is not my strength, especially with no games being played because of the novel coronavirus. So, I asked basketball people who watched “The Last Dance” for their reactions to the first two episodes.
There were plenty of Thumbs Up.
I’ll share what they said — along with this story from former Louisville guard Milt Wagner, the first local guy to play with Jordan.
It happened April 11, 1981, in Wichita, Kansas, at the fourth annual McDonald’s All-American game.
Maybe Jordan was annoyed that he was not named to the first team in the annual Courier-Journal Super Five ranking of high school prospects. At the time, the CJ’s rankings had as much clout as any national rankings.
Jordan was indeed identified at “Mike” Jordan on the CJ’s second team.
Jordan was bumped off the first team by Patrick Ewing (Georgetown); Manuel Forrest (Louisville); Anthony Jones (Georgetown); Aubrey Sherrod (Wichita State) and Greg Dreiling (Wichita State).
Wagner made the third team. He said that he and Jordan, Forrest, Ewing, Buzz Peterson (another North Carolina recruit) and Adrian Branch (who attended Maryland) played for the East squad that won the McDonald’s game, 96-95.
Jordan scored 30, a McDonald’s record, yet was not voted one of the game’s two MVPs.
Toss that log onto the Mike Jordan motivational fire.
“There wasn’t much AAU back then, so I had never seen him play,” Wagner said. “You could tell he was good, because he was a super athlete. He was very aggressive.
“But nobody was thinking he would be what he became. He wasn’t considered the best player in the class. That was Patrick. Chris Mullin was around, too, so that was three guys who became Hall of Famers.
“I remember there were a lot of schools that had two recruits in the game. Jordan did like to talk trash. Him and Buzz Peterson were talking trash to me and Manuel.
“We talked about who was going to win more national championships. We both got one, although he got the first one when we both made the Final Four our freshmen years (1982).”
I texted six former local basketball stars and ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale for their reactions to “The Last Dance.”
Everybody watched. Everybody wants to watch more. Everybody reacted.
Here is what they said:
Butch Beard, former NBA player and coach: “The best is yet to come! Just shows how egos can kill a good thing.
“MJ was underpaid. The $30 million (he was paid each of) the last two years was forced by (former commissioner David) Stern.”
Kenny Payne, former NBA player and Kentucky assistant coach: “It was great. Some valuable lessons to organizations and their missions. Don’t mess with success — and it’s bigger than a GM or a president.”
David Padgett, former U of L player and coach: “I thought last night was terrific.
“I think it’s only the beginning of how in-depth it’s going to get as it goes along.
“The human and personal side of everyone’s role and the story is going to be great, not just the basketball side.
“Not like his legacy needed much affirmation but this is only going to make it bigger and greater in my opinion.”
Jerry Eaves, former NBA player and assistant coach: “It had some interesting tidbits and I can’t wait to see episode three with Dennis Rodman wanting to take a vacation …
“… I think now people understand there’s a big dispute between head coaches and general managers in professional sports.”
Marques Maybin, former U of L player/local radio show host: “I loved how the documentary dove into the psychology from the childhood of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, almost like showing how their emotional scars motivated them.
“I like the psychology of Krause wanting credit for building the team and the dynamics of Scottie Pippen possibly costing the greatest team ever another chance at a championship.”
Dick Vitale, ESPN analyst: “It reinforced my belief that in six decades in coaching and TV, no one has ever had the DESIRE to succeed like Jordan.”
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