THE GOAT

Examining what made 'The Last Dance' so fantastic

Photo by Alexander Hassenstein / Staff/ Getty Images.

Since 'The Last Dance' has come to an end, what were the most memorable moments? Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, and Phil Jackson gave us some laughs, intense moments, and sad situations. But what really stood out?

As the documentary started, it gave a great storyline of Jordan, Pippen, Rodman, and Phil Jackson in the first four episodes. This allowed people to see their storylines of their childhood and uprising of each individual.

Jordan was the start of the organization because of his star ability from North Carolina. People always wondered what Jordan was like behind the camera. Over the years there were stories that Jordan was not too fond of people off the court. 'The Last Dance' showed people that Jordan was entertaining, electric, and very comedic off the court. Jordan even battled different challenges of losing his father and retiring from basketball because of the media. Jordan played professional baseball for 14 months before returning to basketball.

But on a serious note, Jordan played the game of basketball on a high level. Episodes four through eight emphasized Jordan's competitiveness and how he challenged his teammates. He was extremely hard on his teammates, but each of them accepted his challenge to win championships. Michael just wanted to see his teammates to succeed.

Last Dance has shown that Jordan was a true successor on the court because of his hard work. He was looked at as a superhero off the court by fans and was big around the world. We cannot be too quick to make LeBron James the goat of basketball.

Scottie Pippen came from a small country town in Arkansas. It was incredible that he grew five inches in the summer and another two into the season. He worked extremely hard for a scholarship at Central Arkansas. As he improved, scouts started to notice his talent. Pippen was then drafted fifth by the Seattle Super Sonics. Then the Bulls had made a trade for Pippen, to give Jordan some help.

When Phil Jackson took over the head coaching position for the Bulls, he implemented the triangle offense. That offense caused Pippen to shine more in the NBA. Over Pippens early years with the Bulls, he was in the shadow of Jordan. Phil Jackson's offense allowed everybody to touch the ball equally. As the offense grew on Pippen, it allowed him to make All-Star games and be a great number two option for the Bulls. Pippen was a great two-way player as well. He was the main reason they were able to beat the Pistons and Lakers in 1991.

On a sad note, Pippen was underpaid for a great player. As a rookie, he signed a contract for seven years and 18 million dollars. Pippen signed a bad deal he could not get out of. It caused tension in the last season with the Bulls. Pippen and Krause got into multiple arguments because of the contract.

Rodman was a rebounding force. He brought his ferocious efforts from the Detroit Pistons. Rodman gave Jordan a tough time on defense when he played for the Pistons. Rodman was so talented that he could guard all spots on defense when asked. His hustling skills were unbelievable. Rodman was the toughest player on the court and forced his tenacious will on other players. He even shared his strategy on rebounding the basketball.

Now Rodman did come from a rough background growing up as a kid in Dallas, Texas. His mom kicked him out the house by age of 18. Rodman was homeless and staying with different friends while growing up. While he was homeless, it never stopped him from going to gym and playing basketball. As he kept playing basketball, a coach from Southeastern Oklahoma State started to recognize his talent on the court. Rodman later earned a scholarship at the university to play basketball.

One could argue that Rodman created load management as he took a trip to Las Vegas during the season. He was gone for 48 hours, so he could refocus. Rodman in general was just entertaining on and off the court. He was well known for the different outfits he would wear and his random hair dye.

When Doug Collins was fired surprisingly, the Bulls had to move Phil Jackson from assistant coach to head coach. He brought in the triangle offense that he learned from Tex Winter. Jackson had seen equal opportunity throughout the entire team. He did not want Jordan scoring 37 or 38 points per game. Jackson knew the Bulls could not win that way. Even though they went to the Eastern Conference Finals back-to-back years. Jackson knew that Jordan needed to trust his teammates when it came to beating Detroit. When Jordan believed in the offense, they were able to win championships.

Before Jackson started coaching, he played his college basketball at North Dakota University and for the New York Knickerbockers. He won two championships in 1970 and 1973. Jackson started coaching for Isabela as a head coach in 1984. Then he won a championship with the Albany Patroons in 1984 as a head coach. Krause later brought Jackson to the Bulls to be the assistant coach.

Fun fact about Jackson is that he has 14 championships on his resume.

As I go through the most memorable moments of 'The Last Dance,' it saddens me that the docuseries is over. It reminds us not to forget Jordan's greatness, that Pippen is the best version of Robin to Batman, and Rodman was incredible on the boards. Also, it reminds us that the 1995-1996 Bulls team is the best of all-time.

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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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