Kobe cameo, Jordan highs and lows in new ‘The Last Dance’ episodes

Delfin Dioquino
Kobe cameo, Jordan highs and lows in new ‘The Last Dance’ episodes

AFP

Late NBA legend Kobe Bryant transformed from boy to man on court with the help of 'big brother' Michael Jordan


MANILA, Philippines – What would a documentary centered around Michael Jordan be without Kobe Bryant in it?

Before he was killed in a helicopter crash in January, Bryant was interviewed for The Last Dance and he’s appearing in the latest episodes of the 10-part miniseries which stream on Netflix on Monday, May 4.

Here are some things to expect in Episodes 5 and 6:

Mamba mentality

Bryant transformed from boy to man during his early years in the league and he had Jordan as his “big brother” to look up to.

The late icon was just 17 years old when he was drafted in the NBA in 1996 and admitted it was a “rough couple of years” since the league at the time didn’t have too many hotshots as young as him.

Fortunately, Bryant was taken under the wings of Jordan, who willingly provided the secrets of his patented turnaround shot to the Los Angeles Lakers legend.

“What you get from me is from him,” Bryant said of Jordan.

As Jordan permanently retired in 2003, Bryant had already established his status as one of the faces of the NBA as he and Shaquille O’Neal powered the Lakers to 3 consecutive championships.

Bryant went on to win 5 titles with the Lakers over 20 years with the franchise before retiring in 2016.

 

Different beast

Jordan was known for his extreme competitiveness, but he took that relentless nature to the next level in the series-opener of the 1992 NBA Finals against Clyde Drexler and the Portland Trail Blazers.

Upset by being likened to Drexler, Jordan staged a shooting clinic as he torched the Blazers with 39 points on a healthy 6-of-10 shooting from deep to lead the Bulls to a massive 122-89 victory.

Jordan sank all of his treys in the first two periods, which then broke a finals record for most triples in a half, of what is famously known as the “Shrug Game” just to crush the Drexler comparisons.

“Clyde was a threat. I’m not saying he wasn’t a threat. But me being compared to him, I took offense to that,” Jordan said.

Jordan found unique ways to motivate himself, including proving Bulls general manager Jerry Krause – whom he butted heads with – wrong.

Krause, for example, had Dan Majerle of the Phoenix Suns as one of his most favorite players in the NBA.

In response, Jordan dominated Majerle and the Suns on both ends in the 1993 NBA Finals, which saw the Bulls become the third team in NBA history to win the title for 3 straight seasons.

Jordan had his away against Majerle and the Suns in those 6 games, averaging 41.0 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 6.3 assists.

“I put it in my mindset that if I don’t do this, then they’re going to consider [Majerle] on the same level as me,” Jordan said.

 

Still human

Nobody is perfect, not even Jordan.

Jordan faced controversies when he was at the peak of his powers, among them his gambling habits and his apathy toward political activism.

Back in 1990, Jordan was asked to endorse black politician Harvey Gantt, who was running for the senate in North Carolina against Jesse Helms, a conservative who was accused of racism.

An endorsement from one of the most influential black athletes would have helped Gantt win, but Jordan declined.

“I never thought of myself as an activist. I thought of myself as a basketball player. Was that selfish? Probably,” Jordan said.

Fast forward to 1993 with the Bulls seeking a third championship in a row, it was reported that Jordan had been gambling in the middle of their Eastern Conference finals series against the New York Knicks.

His commitment to winning was questioned following a trip to the casino on the eve of Game 2, which the Bulls lost to fall into a 0-2 hole.

Turning radio silent after growing tired of questions about his gambling issues, Jordan delivered a statement by keying the Bulls to 4 straight wins over the Knicks to reach the finals and meet the Suns.

“I think he was disgusted with what happened and Michael had to respond,” Bulls coach Phil Jackson said. – Rappler.com

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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.