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 Rockets may be the smartest guys in the room. Or the cheapest

The Rockets have their new head coach. Composite photo by Brandon Strange

On Wednesday afternoon, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski broke the news that the Rockets' coaching search had come to an end finally. The front office tabbed Mavericks assistant Stephen Silas as the successor to Mike D'Antoni, beating out former Rockets head coach Jeff Van Gundy and current Rockets assistant John Lucas.

Knee jerk reaction?

I'm not mad at it. I expected Jeff Van Gundy to be the next hire, but maybe that was just nostalgia clouding my judgment. Either way, the Silas hire should be viewed optimistically. He's been highly regarded for some time around the league as an inventive mind that comes from basketball pedigree and has worked with big-name guards in prior stops around the league. If the Rockets didn't grab him, it was only a matter of time before another team gave him a shot.

Now there are two very distinct ways to look at this hire:

The first is that the Rockets, in spite of being one of the last teams to fill their coaching vacancy, are the smartest kids in the room. Every team is looking for the next version of what the Celtics found in their current head coach, Brad Stevens; a young brilliant coach that just needed a team to give him a shot. Hired at 37 from the college ranks, Stevens endured one losing season (his first) and has since guided the Celtics to six playoff appearances, to include three conference finals appearances. Not bad, considering he was up against LeBron James for most of those.

That is what it looks like the Rockets are trying to go for. Now at 47, Silas probably won't be mistaken for a wunderkind, but compared to 69-year-old D'Antoni, he might as well be announcing his hire on Tik Tok. If it works out, the Rockets will have once again been one step ahead of the league with the hiring of their innovative new coach.

The other way to look at the Silas hire is a little less rosy.

While Silas is only 47, he's also been an assistant in the league since he was 27. The positive spin on his resume is that he's worked with star players the likes of Kemba Walker, LeBron James, and Stephen Curry. The reality is that he worked with them while they were very young in their careers, and worked on teams like the Cavaliers, Bobcats/Hornets, Wizards, and Warriors (when they were bad). Until the last two seasons working with Luka Doncic on the Mavericks, there hasn't been a lot of success following Silas. That's not necessarily an indictment since he was an assistant, but it's not exactly a sparkling pedigree.

So while this could be a brilliant hire, at the moment, it has all of the markings of the cheaper hire. As I've mentioned before, Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta has been quite vocal about the financial impact that COVID-19 has had on his portfolio. Clips and quotes moaning and groaning about losing money are not typically precursors to an owner gearing up to make a big financial investment in the front office of a sports team that he can't sell tickets for anyone to come see. If in fact, money factored in more than fit, it would make sense that the Rockets would forego a coach like Van Gundy, whose previous head coaching experience would automatically command a higher starting price. We'll, of course, have to wait and see what the actual contract figures are once released.

It could be one. It could be the other. It could be both. Hopefully it translates into wins either way.

One thing that's for certain though is that Silas needs to take some pointers from Russell Westbrook and James Harden before he steps out courtside in any more of those TJ Maxx suits, circa 2000. Big boy job means big boy suits.

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