A rarely seen side of MJ should be on display for all to see

Documentary "The Last Dance" provides chance to see all sides of MJ

Credit Craig Larson

Sunday night the world will receive their first glimpse into "The Last Dance" and the behind the scenes footage of the Chicago Bulls sixth and final NBA Championship, chronicling the 9 season. Born and raised on the southside of Chicago, it was hard to even conceive of anything trumping the Chicago Bears in the Chicagoland public consciousness and popularity. Even now, the 85' Bears, hold a special place in Chicago's heart and NFL lore. Michael Jordan is Chicago's adopted son, someone who was relatable with a strong work ethic, competitive drive, who evolved his game and learned how to trust his teammates along the way in crucial moments.

In 1990, I was in the locker room of The Palace of Auburn Hills after the Bulls lost to the Pistons (yet again) in a playoff series, scoring a meager 74 points in a 19 point loss to Detroit. Michael commented that he was going to come back "even stronger" the following year as he fought back tears. I remember driving back home thinking, "Jordan will never get over the hump, the Pistons are just too deep" The following Summer, Jordan would claim the first of his six NBA Titles and he never looked back.

In 1993, I can recall Phil Jackson blowing off practice, us in the media getting word, for favor of taking a ferry ride to see the Statue of Liberty prior to Game 5 of a playoff series against the Knicks. On that ferry ride, Bulls power forward Horace Grant asked aloud "is that a man or a woman" as he traveled past Lady Liberty. MJ just shook his head in the distance.

September 1994, I covered Michael returning to the Old Chicago Stadium in Scottie Pippen's charity game. At conclusion, in front of 18,676 he knelt center court, kissing the center Bulls logo. Many of us felt that would be the last time we'd see Michael in a live basketball setting.

Several years later, we met up again in Lake Tahoe for a celeb golf tournament. At 6am the entire week, Michael was the first on the tee box hitting drives with his signature Nike attire. Three hours earlier, he was seen at the craps table, yet never missed a beat. I think the most remarkable trait of what I witnessed was his non-stop energy, he would pack an entire week into 1 day.

My hope is that everyone will get to see in this upcoming documentary the humbling moments, the challenges, the humility along the way, and how Michael evolved as a basketball player, but more importantly, evolved into a leader who was accepting of his coaches and teammates.

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The Astros suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Yankees Thursday. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

After an impressive two-game sweep of the NL-best Mets at home earlier in the week, the Astros took to the road to begin a four-game series with the league-best Yankees on Thursday night. To little surprise, the series started with a bang (no, not a trash can bang) in more ways than one, confirming that this series should be a must-watch this weekend.

New York's comeback proves no lead will be safe

Right from the get-go, the loud Yankee Stadium faithful had their chance to rain boos down on Jose Altuve before showing some pleasure as he led off the series by being hit by a pitch. They were quickly, though only temporarily, quieted as Altuve would come in to score two batters later on a three-run blast by Alex Bregman.

Three-run homers seemed to be a theme, as New York would get one of their own to tie the game off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton to tie the game, then Yordan Alvarez continued his dominant June by pushing the Astros back in front by three with another three-run bomb in the third, making it 6-3. That lead held through to the bottom of the ninth, where instead of holding it, Ryan Pressly issued two walks to set up the fourth homer of the game to tie things again before Aaron Judge would get a walk-off single to complete the impressive comeback.

Not only will we get to sit back and watch the slug-fest between Yordan and Judge this weekend, but it looks like with Alex Bregman swinging well again to round out the top of Houston's order, the Astros may be getting closer to their full power. So far in June, these two teams sit third and fourth in on-base percentage, with the Astros at .351 and the Yankees right behind at .350. That means we should continue to see scoring opportunities on both sides that can tilt momentum one way or the other as these lineups try to battle against the opposing pitcher.

How will the aces fare

Verlander vs. Judge, and Cole vs. Alvarez, need I say more? Although we won't see Justin Verlander go up against Gerrit Cole in the same game in this series (they should go head to head next Thursday, however), they will pitch on back-to-back days, with Houston's ace going Friday night and New York's on Saturday afternoon. Verlander is coming off his worst start of the year, a three and two-thirds inning outing where the White Sox put up seven runs, four earned, against him and knocked him out early to give him his third loss and increased his ERA from 1.94 to 2.30.

The last time he faced the Yankees was in the Bronx in the 2019 playoffs, in ALCS Game 5, where he went seven frames while allowing four runs, all on two homers in the first inning, which is all New York needed to grab the 4-1 victory to make it a 3-2 Houston lead in the series, which the Astros would go on to clinch in Game 6. So, with the double dose of bad taste in his mouth, it will be interesting to see if he can use that as the fuel to get back to the phenomenal form he's had this year or if the Yankees try to jump on him early like they did nearly three years ago.

Cole, meanwhile, is fresh off of two quality starts in a row against the Rays, where he allowed just one run on six hits with nineteen strikeouts over 13.1 innings of work. He's had his share of strife this season, though, including a seven-run shelling by the Twins earlier this month, along with a start in April where he couldn't make it through two innings against the Tigers. He's had success against his former club, most notably a complete-game shutout in Houston last July with twelve K's and holding the Astros to just three hits.

If the series opener was any indication, we are in for the treat of a playoff-caliber matchup, if not a potential ALCS preview that we may see in October. The Yankees showed why they have the best record and are the hottest team in baseball on Thursday night, but the Astros were only a good outing from their closer away from having a relatively lopsided win. The rivalry is real; the competition is close, and we get to enjoy the show.

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