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‘The Last Dance’ finale: Takeaways from Episodes 9-10 of MJ Documentary

We take you through the final two episodes of the Michael Jordan documentary ‘The Last Dance’ on ESPN. Here are some takeaways from Sunday night.

Michael Jordan speaks during the celebration of the Chicago Bulls 20th anniversary of their first NBA Championship during a special half time program on March 12, 2011 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. Photo by Ray Amati/NBAE via Getty Images

‘The Last Dance’ is airing the final two episodes of the 10-part series about Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls during their dynasty in the 1990s. We head into the final episodes setting up the 1998 Chicago Bulls for their final championship with Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Phil Jackson and Dennis Rodman. We’ll be providing analysis and takeaways throughout the night for the last two episodes. Follow along here for updates.

‘The Last Dance’ finale recap

Final update — The Bulls in the 90s are one of the great sports dynasties we’ve seen — at least that I’ve seen in my time on this earth. The Bulls and MJ were my childhood. I’m likely not typing these words into this CMS for this article if it isn’t for Jordan and the Bulls. It’s been tough being a Bulls fan for a while now but you really can’t complain right? Those teams were the best to ever play basketball.

It would have been nice to see the team give it another year. ‘The Last Dance’ moniker really hurt the chances of the team coming back. MJ saying everybody would return for another year isn’t surprising. Of course they would have. Reinsdorf and Jerry Krause could have kept going the greatest basketball dynasty ever and they decided not to for, well, no good reason, frankly. Oh what could have been... Well, this was fun. I’ll have to go back and re-watch to reflect a bit more, absorb a bit more. It’s been a nice trip back in a time machine to when basketball was better, when my team was better, when the greatest played.

10:47 — As the series comes to a close, I’m surprised after the second 3-peat and MJ retiring, that they didn’t go more into his post-playing days and even his time with the Wizards very briefly. This is about MJ right? The Bulls were just a vessel for the greatness of Jordan. There’s so much more to the man after his playing days that interests me.

10:40 — LEOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. All-time post-game championship celebration cameo? The Bulls complete the second 3-peat. CHAMPAGNE SHOWERS. MJ and his cigars. D-Rod and his partying. The end of an era.

10:35 — The shot. Jordan over Russell. Bulls take the lead looking to complete the 3-peat. Somehow Chicago overcomes the Pippen injury to take the lead late. There wasn’t a push off people. Russell was going out of control anyway. It didn’t matter how MJ was doing it, he was going to score on Russell in that moment. Jordan had to go out like that, what did you think was going to happen? You ever think in that moment that Jordan thought: Do I really want all of this to come to an end?

10:32 — So the Bulls are down 3 and there’s less than a minute left. The Bulls are trying to not let this thing go to Game 7 but everything is against them right now. Pippen is hurt. Jordan is off. Not looking good. It’s great hearing MJ talk about that strip. Such a simple play, he explains the thought process as if it was obvious.

10:29 — You’ve got to imagine Pippen “Bud Kilmered” himself and made the trainers understand. That’s not what I’m saying happened, but in a huge game like this, you knew Pippen was getting back out there no matter what. Pippen comes back as a decoy. Clear the way for MJ. Who couldn’t hit anything. Pippen can barely walk. You just don’t see gutsy performances like this in the NBA anymore.

10:23 — The moment we’ve all been waiting for — Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals. Bulls at Utah. The Jazz win Game 5 to force it back at home. Another win and we could be headed to a historic finals finish and finish to MJ’s career. Will Scottie Pippen’s injury be the crutch that ends the Bulls dynasty? So much drama. The Pippen injury just sort of adds to the Jordan mystique.

10:11 — Dennis Rodman is nuts man. He ditches the Bulls in Game 3 to go to the NWO. D-Rod being D-Rod didn’t even falter the Bulls. This is also a good look into the genius of Professional Wrestling. Amazing. D-Rod on the court, you just couldn’t knock the guy. He was a Hall of Famer and one of the best defensive players ever.

10:09 — The Bulls really ripped the heart and soul out of the Jazz in Game 3. They get dominated, absolutely dominated against the Bulls. It may have been the most dominant win by any team in NBA history. 96-54. Utah is supposed to be able to beat the Bulls? Really? Get out of here, man.

10:06 — Stockton never backed down from the Bulls and that’s how you need to play against a team like this. You can’t be stunned. You’ve got to go right at them and even the playing field. It was tough to do. The Bulls were just so resilient. Every time you think you’ve got em, they come back stronger and kick you in the teeth.

10:04 — If there’s anything you can takeaway from MJ it’s what they’re talking about right now. Him being present. He never thought about failure because he knew he wasn’t going to fail. And if he did fail, he knew he’s never let that happen again. We’ve seen it throughout this series and throughout his career highlighted.

10:00— Bulls going to the finals again. Jordan’s suit game is ON FLEEK. HERE WE GO. FINALE. JAZZ-BULLS.

9:54 — So the Bulls go into Game 7 against the Pacers as the episode is coming to a close. So we went an entire episode going over the 1997 finals and the 1998 ECF. MJ becomes the all-time leading postseason scorer. Bulls down late in the game. Jump ball. Rick Smitts loses the jump ball and Kerr makes Indy pay. Kerr clutch again. Bulls pull ahead in the fourth and the rest is history. Reggie wasn’t able to retire MJ. Poor guy.

9:51 — It’s nice to see all the people surrounding MJ during this time influencing him. We’re seeing that it took a lot more than just one man to make Michael Jordan. Gus Lett his security guard, in MJ’s eyes, was more than security guard.

9:40 — The mutual respect between MJ and Kerr is beautiful really. On the surface, two completely different basketball players from different backgrounds, yet so similar in their way of thinking and competing. Kerr was always one of my favorite Bulls growing up because he’d hit shots like the Game 6 game-winner in 1997. You remember earlier in the series MJ talking about how Kerr needed to earn his stripes. Well, it took a while but Kerr came through.

9:23 — IT WASN’T A FLU GAME IT WAS FOOD POISONING. UNBELIEVABLE. I mean if I was MJ I wouldn’t have eaten that pizza, come on man. You don’t know what those people in Utah did to it. Rookie mistake from MJ there. It’ll always be known as the Flu Game and it will always be legendary, no matter what anyone says. Not even sickness could put down MJ. Most players would have played but failed. Jordan didn’t.

9:17 — Flashback to the 1997 Finals against the same Jazz team and Jordan dominating Russell. This feels weird, going back and going over all of Jordan’s victims throughout his reign in the NBA. Russell was a nice guy, per Stockton, and you just feel for him.

9:14 — I feel for John Stockton and Karl Malone too. The Jazz were probably one of the greatest teams ever. Stockton and Malone are arguably top 10 players all time and Utah constantly gets overshadowed by Jordan the entire time.

9:11 — People don’t talk about the shove enough from Miller. It was almost as egregious as the MJ “push off” we’re going to see later on Bryon Russell. Jordan’s attempt at a game-winner rims out and Miller ties the series for the Pacers. So close for MJ on that shot. Shoutout to the reporter who asked that question at the press conference. You’ve got to have huge, well, ahh you know what I’m getting at.

9:07 — So the Bulls win the first two games to go up 2-0 in the series and then back to Indiana, where the hostile environment didn’t help the Bulls. Miller was also untouchable in that Game 3. The Pacers squeeze out a win and make it a series.

9:04 — The episode is underway and it’s the Bulls-Pacers Eastern Conference Finals in 1998. The Pacers thought they were stacked and ready to retire Michael Jordan, as Reggie Miller put it. I always loved the Pacers-Bulls rivalry because those are the games I remember most fondly as a kid (an 8-year-old at the time). I HATED Reggie Miller probably as much as Jordan did.