December 9, 2021

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Brilliant Michael Jordan stories you DIDN’T see in Netflix’s ‘The Last Dance’

Brilliant Michael Jordan stories you DIDN’T see in Netflix’s ‘The Last Dance’
In the end there was 10 hours to sit through but Netflix's 'The Last Dance' could have doubled, or even tripled, the number of episodes with the amount of anecdotes and stories that have emerged about Michael Jordan. The 10-part series is focused largely on the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls season - the 'Last Dance' in the…

In the end there was 10 hours to sit through but Netflix‘s ‘The Last Dance’ could have doubled, or even tripled, the number of episodes with the amount of anecdotes and stories that have emerged about Michael Jordan

The 10-part series is focused largely on the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls season – the ‘Last Dance’ in the eyes of coach Phil Jackson – and it was Jordan who sealed a sixth championship, and a second three-peat, with the winning shot against Utah Jazz in Game 6 in 1998. 

That was the end for Jordan in Chicago and that was the end for the documentary.  

Michael Jordan (middle) was the star of Netflix’s ‘The Last Dance’ series as they went behind-the-scenes with the Chicago Bulls in the 1997-98 season, which concluded in a championship

The series explored many areas of Jordan’s life before the season and his journey to that point 

But aside from Jordan’s career in Chicago, there were tales from his days in high school, college and the Washington Wizards that never made the final edit. 

From having to serve food and drink to other kids while working as a waiter at a prestigious basketball camp to turfing Miami Heat owner Pat Riley out of his hotel room in Hawaii, Jordan’s life and career in the game is not without some brilliant stories. 

Sportsmail takes a look at a handful that were left out of ‘The Last Dance’…  

A Hall of Fame speech to remember

When Jordan was inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame in 2009, it was a moment for he and his family to cherish.

His team-mates were in attendance – Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman and Steve Kerr among them – and as Jordan wiped away tears at the start, he began recounting his best memories. 

But the speech quickly became typical of Jordan’s ruthless competitive streak. 

Here he was, stood before a large crowd, taking cheap shots at the organisers for ticket prices, accusing the high school coach who didn’t pick him for a team of making a ‘mistake’ and he even ‘thanked’ nemesis Isiah Thomas. 

Egged on by the crowd who went from raucous laughter to applause, Jordan continued with his digs and eventually settled on one for the Bulls’ General Manager during Jordan’s time in Chicago, Jerry Krause. 

Jordan looked to settle some scores with old foes during his 2009 Hall of Fame speech

Former Chicago Bulls General Manager Jerry Krause (right) was targeted in Jordan’s speech

Krause had opted to not attend Jordan’s induction as a form of protest as he was still irate that legendary basketball mind Tex Winter had not earned a place.

But rather than take the high road, Jordan couldn’t resist a couple of shots at Krause, first insisting that his former GM wasn’t even invited.

‘Jerry Krause is not here, I don’t know who invited him, I didn’t,’ Jordan said. 

‘He said organisations win championships but I didn’t see organisations play against Utah with the flu. I didn’t see organisations play with a bad ankle.’  

And so while the documentary toughed on the pair’s frosty relationship and how players would openly poke fun at ‘the little guy’ that was Krause, Jordan couldn’t resist yet another swipe at the man who he has long believed is the reason that ‘Last Dance’ team was broken up.  

Knicks threw money at Jordan

Getting hold of Jordan during those years in Chicago represented the closest thing to securing a championship as there was in the NBA. 

He was the star player and it was telling that not until he stepped away in the middle of the three-peats to play baseball did the Bulls fall short of lifting the Larry O’Brien championship trophy. 

But while a second three-peat began in 1996, the New York Knicks actually put together a huge offer to prise Jordan away from Chicago. 

Jordan loved playing at Madison Square Garden, was always dazzling when he played there and the Knicks seemed to have unlimited resources in their reported offer.

On the table for him was a one-year deal at $25million. Basically, that offer represented a 653 per cent increase on his previous salary of $3.83m in Chicago. 

Jordan’s agent David Falk has since played down how close that offer came to being accepted but it did work as leverage to up his money in Chicago. A year later he was earning $33.14 million a year. Unlucky, New York. 

The New York Knicks reportedly made a huge money offer to get Jordan out of Chicago in 1996

Pat Riley turfed out of suite… so Jordan could have it! 

The story goes that Pat Riley, then coach of the New York Knicks, was relaxing in a luxury hotel in Hawaii when he was told there was a problem.

Everything was perfectly fine with his stay. The issue was, the hotel staff needed him to vacate the presidential suite and move. 

It seemed odd. 

An ‘unexpected guest’ was arriving and they had to take the suite that Riley was already in. 

‘Mr Riley, you have to clear your things out, we need to move you out,’ the manager told Riley, according to Jason Hehir, the director of ‘The Last Dance’. 

And so Riley did as he was told, moved his things and then went down to lay by the pool to relax after a somewhat bizarre episode. 

Pat Riley (left) was famously made to leave his hotel suite in Hawaii when Jordan arrived to stay

As he sat by the pool he looked up to the balcony of the suite where he was staying not much earlier and there stood Jordan, waving at him with the smile of a man who was winning. 

Riley explained the story in an interview for the documentary but it unfortunately never made the cut. Jordan clearly never forgot the story as it was part of his Hall of Fame speech. 

The former Bull explained to the crowd that Riley later slipped a note under the door of the suite. 

It read: ‘I enjoyed the competition, congratulations but we will meet again’. 

Order up… 

This one is brilliant, and would have made a great segment of his formative years had the series had more room to look into that period of his life.

Jordan’s family life and upbringing is covered in the early episodes but not in the detail that included his time at a Five-Star basketball camp during high school. 

It seems fanciful to think now but Jordan wasn’t the phenomenon in school that he was in Chicago and so he wasn’t top of the list for this elite camp for future prospects.   

But after his coach in school apparently polished up his stats to earn him a spot at the camp, the issue of money threatened to cut short Jordan’s time there, as Hehir explained.    

Jordan had to serve food and drink to Patrick Ewing (right) at a teenage basketball camp

Speaking on ESPN on the ‘The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz‘, Hehir said: ‘[The coach] was embellishing his stats just to get him in there because he was not on the map at all. 

‘No one was coming down to look at high school kids in Wilmington, North Carolina. He was there for a week and that’s what his parents could afford, and he did so well that first week that he got MVP of the entire camp.

‘You had Patrick Ewing, Len Bias, and some other guys were at the camp as well, but Michael, or Mike, at that point, blew everybody away. They begged him to stay for a second week because more college coaches wanted to see him play, and the parents said “we can’t afford it”. 

‘So they said, “OK, we’ll pay for him if he works in the kitchen as a waiter for all the other kids”. Michael got MVP that second week and he was a waiter serving kids fruit punch and grilled cheeses and then going out and wasting these kids later on on the court.’

Waiter by day, MVP by night. Order up!

Jordan’s dad cooked up a treat

James Jordan’s story, the sacrifices he made for his son, and then his tragic death did play a key part of the documentary, and rightly so.

But there was one story which didn’t make it that shows just how determined he was to ensure Michael would go on to win a place in the team with the University of North Carolina.

Speaking on ESPN radio’s ‘Will Cain Show’, Hehir detailed how the UNC coach at the time – and to this day – Roy Williams got a present by Jordan that was more than what the average parent could have turned up.  

‘Roy told the story of how Mr Jordan shows up with this wood stove on a truck. Out of nowhere, rings his doorbell,’ Hehir explained. 

University of North Carolina coach Roy Williams gave a brilliant story for ‘The Last Dance’ 

James Jordan (left) made a stove especially for Williams and he delivered it to his house

‘And this is in the process of Michael being recruited. It’s one thing for a coach to be giving you something, but for the recruit to be giving a coach something, that’s just how generous a guy James was, and how much he appreciated how kind Roy Williams was. And Roy was a part-time coach at that point, I think he was earning like $8,000 a year to be a coach at UNC.

‘So James Jordan shows up and he’s got this huge wood stove on this truck. He says (to Williams), “I need your help to get it inside your house”. Roy says, “I can’t accept that, I’m sure this violates some sort of rule”. 

‘And Mr Jordan said, “Listen, it took me a lot of time to build this thing, it took me a lot of time to get it on the truck and drive it all the way out to your house. I’m going to be really upset if you make me drive back to this house with this stove that I built for you”. So the next thing you know, they’re installing it in the house.’

‘And Roy Williams, years later, he’s selling his house. And one of the potential buyers is coming through and says, “That’s a beautiful stove. Is that a Fisher?” And Roy says, “No, that’s a Jordan”.’ 

Suffice to say, Jordan got a spot on the squad at UNC, grew his profile to one of the best college basketball players ever and the rest, as they say, is history.  

Jordan went on to play for North Carolina, became a star and it was all thanks to the free stove

Miami RETIRED his jersey (despite never playing for them!)

Jordan may have been a ruthless competitor and that definitely showed in the documentary. But he was also highly respected in the game and going back to Riley, he was so fond of Jordan that the Miami Heat retired the No 23 in his honour.

This happened after the Last Dance and so makes sense as to why it was cut but it would have made a clever follow-on had they shown ‘what happened next’.

Jordan never played for the Heat but looking to the loft of their arena, the No 23 was retired on his final visit there, when he was then playing for the Washington Wizards. 

A video montage played of his best moments and it ended with a message that read: ‘Thanks for the memories’.

Riley added: ‘In honour of your greatness and for all you have done for the game of basketball, for all the fans around the world, we want to honour you tonight by hanging your jersey from the rafters of the American Airlines Arena. You’re the best.’ 

As seen in the rafters, a split jersey from Chicago and Washington was retired in his honour

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