O'Donnell: If only Michael would end the 'Dance' with full honesty

  • It would've been nice if Michael Jordan and coach Phil Jackson could've given it a run at a seventh championship.

    It would've been nice if Michael Jordan and coach Phil Jackson could've given it a run at a seventh championship. Andrew D. Bernstein/NBA Photos

Updated 5/15/2020 2:49 PM

SO FOUR WEEKS and millions of words after it began, "The Last Dance" ends Sunday night.

As a sports imaging venture, it will be considered a success.


As deep examination of the global icon known as Michael Jordan, as new and compelling light on his inner struggle between self and symbol, it won't be.

That's why if there were to be a perfect crescendo to Episode 10, it would be a straightforwardness never before heard in the public Jordan Experience.

It would be Jordan speaking the truth as he perceives it, from beyond the heart, from beyond the brand.

From deep in a righteous soul of the Carolina coast:

"When I die, I will be first and foremost remembered as a basketball player.

"Some will say I was the greatest of all time. Some won't. I believe I proved I belong in the conversation.

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"What will never show up in the statistics attached to my name or the video of anything I did is what I had to overcome to get done what I got done.

"I went from one of the most successfully structured college basketball programs in the land to what proved to be one of the most dysfunctional basketball teams in the NBA.

"I played for three head coaches in my first three years and four in a 50-month span from May 1985 to July 1989. All while Jerry Krause was getting on-the-job training.

"I endured to the point that in my final six full seasons with the Chicago Bulls, we won six championships.

"How many other players in the history of the NBA can say that?


"Not George Mikan. Not Bill Russell. Not Kobe Bryant.

"At the end of that run, all I wanted was that I be back for a try at a seventh with Phil Jackson remaining as my head coach.

"The only person who could make that happen was Jerry Reinsdorf. He chose not to.

"I didn't demand Scottie Pippen be back. I didn't demand Dennis Rodman back.

"I didn't care if they put me out there with the Backstreet Boys.

"All I asked was that I be allowed to risk my reputation and either win a seventh or get knocked off as champion where I should have been knocked off -- on a basketball court.

"I wanted Phil back because he would provide guidance and continuity to whoever my new teammates were.

"He'd also continue to serve as a buffer between the team and the dysfunctionalness enabled by ownership.

"Our hardest battles weren't against other NBA teams. Our hardest battles were the mind games with our own organization, the ones who were supposed to be on our side.

"Jerry Reinsdorf hasn't won a championship since I left -- 22 years and counting. His reputation for what he did to me and his last group of champions will always precede him with quality free agents.

"It didn't have to end how it did or when it did.

"I guess the only real lesson to be learned is, what's the point in being human if you don't realize in the end, the world's going to figure some way to break you heart?

"Even after you've proven ... you can stir the imaginations of a whole lot of people with ball, man and air.

"That's the part of my legacy I like the most."

Cue "Jump!" by the Pointer Sisters.

Roll credits.


STREET-BEATIN': Charles Barkley will join Justin Thomas, Amanda Balionis and a caddyshack of others on Turner's coverage of that Tiger Woods-Peyton Manning vs. Phil Mickelson-Tom Brady charity golf match next weekend. (Kevin Hart must be in self-quarantine.) ...

Rising Adam Amin (Addison Trail High, Class of '05) is leaving ESPN for Fox. His rapid arc suggests a No. 1 national chair isn't such a longshot. (Amin's brief turns as a Bulls TV fill-in and on Bears preseason telecasts could be over.) ...

Jeannie Morris reminds that cameraman Chuck Davidson, producer Bobby Vasilopoulos and editor Carolyn Broquet were all-stars during the making of her two excellent Michael Jordan documentaries for WBBM-Channel 2. ...

Those Korean baseball telecasts on ESPN are certainly taking the nation by storm. (Maybe they'd be spiced by "Jessica Mendoza's Kimchi Breakfast Corner.") ...

The relentless reporting over micro twists in the Jay Cutler-Kristin Cavallari split can be filed under "Extremely Boring Swill." (Now if Cavallari makes a move on Mike Pence, that's a different matter.) ...

And the great Jim Palmer -- in an email to The Boston Globe's Dan Shaughnessy about the gap between MLB owners and players over Covid-cut 2020 compensation -- wrote: "The players know it's all about revenue -- less $, less pay and be glad you have a job. Otherwise, stay home and drive your wife crazy!"

• Jim O'Donnell's Sports & Media column appears Thursday and Sunday. Reach him at jimodonnelldh@yahoo.com.

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