KEN HOFFMAN GETS IT RIGHT FROM THE SOURCE

Why Michael Jordan would probably sit out this part of 'The Last Dance'

Photo by Vincent Laforet/Getty Images. Composite image by Jack Brame.

But didn't Michael Jordan say he hated rap music?

If you're watching The Last Dance, ESPN's 10-part documentary about Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls' six NBA titles, you're sure hearing a lot of rap music in the background. We'll get to, well, this really isn't a documentary later. For now, let's focus on the all the hip hop that's playing as Jordan buries the Pistons, Knicks, Jazz and whoever dares to stand in the path of his obsession with winning.

We're hearing tracks by Puff Daddy, Notorious B.I.G. Mase, LL Cool J and classic rap hits from Jordan's playing days. The show's music supervisor says he picked hip hop to reflect popular culture of the time. But is hip hop an accurate soundtrack to Jordan's career in the NBA?

A rapper named N.O.R.E. told the Rap Radar podcast about the time he was at a party and heard Jordan bash rap music in no uncertain, but graphically profane, terms. As we've heard in The Last Dance, Jordan is quite at ease with expletives. He made his feelings clear about rap music – he's not a fan.

Jordan, through a representative (of course), denies ever saying that he didn't like rap.

But he did say it … to me.

January, 1993, at the height of Jordan's majesty, the Chicago Bulls met the Houston Rockets at The Summit, and I had a one-on-one – just the two of us – interview with Jordan. Talk about your unique opportunity. We met about two hours before the game, two chairs in a corner of the visiting team's dressing room. The first thing I noticed, he was wearing headphones around his neck. This was before headphones became the standard fashion accessory for professional athletes. I had a list of questions I intended to ask Jordan, but that went out the window. Instead, I pointed to his headphones and led with "What kind of music do you like?" He answered, and it's the One Big Thing (thanks, SVP) about the interview that I remember …

"Anything but rap."

The interview lasted 10 minutes and I never got around to a single question about basketball. We talked about music. Jordan said he liked jazz and rhythm and blues and old Motown hits. He said it a second time, emphatically, "not rap."

For those keeping score at home, the Rockets won the game that night, 94-83. Jordan led the Bulls with 27 points on 12 for 27 shooting. The Rockets were paced by Hakeem Olajuwon and Vernon Maxwell with 18 points each.

It's interesting to note that in 1989, NBA Entertainment produced a documentary about Jordan's childhood and early days with the Bulls called Come Fly with Me. That documentary contained some of the same footage used in The Last Dance. In place of rap heard in Last Dance, Come Fly with Me featured music by smooth jazz artists Yanni, Nagee, John Tesh and David Benoit. Those would be better selections from the Michael Jordan jukebox.

The Last Dance is an undeniable, huge hit for ESPN, the most-viewed documentary in the network's history. The 10-parter has the ultimate captive audience – there's nothing else going on in sports due to the coronavirus crisis. Sure, maybe we need to stop calling The Last Dance a documentary. It's more an autobiography, written, at least approved and lorded over, by Michael Jordan himself. Jordan had to approve every inch of archival footage included in the series. Jordan's production company, Jump 23, is a partner in the series. As Jordan would say, he doesn't have a gambling problem, he has a competition problem. Add control issues.

I'm thinking that critics, hung up on journalistic purity, need to back off whining about Jordan's participation in making The Last Dance. Yes, the subject of a documentary shouldn't have final say over what goes into the documentary. ESPN never hid the fact that Jordan was behind the production. His company is in the closing credits. Without Jordan's OK, obviously there would be no Last Dance. I'll live with Jordan's OK. You do know what the E in ESPN stands for, right?

But even though Last Dance contains juicy, often unpleasant insights into Jordan's personality, private life and contentious relationships with Bulls management and teammates, fans have a right to wonder - what else could be out there that he doesn't want in there?

***************

Here's a funny story, via former Miami Dolphins public relations director Chip Namias, about Don Shula, the NFL's all-time winningest coach, who died this week at age 90.

"Coach Shula was completely unaware of pop culture. I was the Dolphins public relations director in the mid-80s, the height of the Miami Vice craze. Don Johnson, the star of Miami Vice, was a big Dolphins fan and really wanted to come to a game and meet Coach Shula. We won the game that day, and after Coach Shula finished with his post-game press conference, I brought Don Johnson over to Coach Shula and said, "Coach, I want to introduce you to Don Johnson from Miami Vice.

"Coach Shula shook Don's hand and said, 'Nice to meet you, you guys do a hell of a job!' I realized that Coach Shula had no idea who Don Johnson was, and thought he was an actual City of Miami vice officer. Johnson was unaware that Coach Shula didn't know he was a TV star, and said, 'Coach, I'd like to invite you to come watch us shoot some time.' To which Coach Shula responded, 'Oh no, that's way too dangerous for me.'"

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Martin Truex Jr. won his 2nd race of the season last week. Photo via: Wiki Commons.

NASCAR returns to the Commonwealth of Virginia for the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway. This is the first of two races here at this track as they will race on Sunday afternoon. This will be different from the normal night race they usually have here as this will definitely affect the racing surface considering how much the sun could make the track slick. It should be a fun race come Sunday.

Last week, Martin Truex Jr. passed Denny Hamlin to capture his second win of the season after rain moved the race to Sunday. He became the first driver to win multiple races after a fierce battle with his teammate Denny Hamlin. The race was filled with tons of wrecks including a fifteen car pileup including Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch. It was one of the better races of the season as there was lots of beating and banging.

The race was not without controversy but not the kind you would expect. Early in the race Rick Ware Racing teammates Cody Ware and James Davison were involved in an altercation. The two were battling towards the back of the pack when Ware decided to drive through his teammate in turn four. The race got much worse for Cody Ware as he was involved in three more cautions all throughout the race. Many people around the sport were quite perturbed by his antics including broadcaster Mike Joy as he was audibly annoyed after Ware spun out later in the race. Many have questioned if the fifth-year driver should even be in the car and overall I can understand why some of those people think that. In his five years of driving, he has finished on the lead lap one time. I hope that he is able to figure it out and find success in the future, but this was not a good look.

The slump continues for two-time champion Kyle Busch

Throughout the race, Busch was running okay for the most part but towards the closing laps of the race he and Chris Buescher got together triggering a fifteen car pileup. Despite all this, he was able to rebound to a respectable tenth place finish. This has been more than likely the toughest stretch of his career since his championship in 2019. Many would say that the omission of Practice and Qualifying has really affected his performance. Whatever the issue is, this team really needs to find some speed, or he could be in danger of missing the playoffs. I look for this team to bounce back considering how talented he is.

Prediction

The driver that I have winning this week is Kyle Larson. This has been an incredible rebound season for Larson as he currently sits fourth in points. He is also second in laps led only to Denny Hamlin. Richmond has been a great track for him as it fits his driving style perfectly as he can run the outside line and find grip where others can't. This track is also rather sentimental to him considering he won his first pole award here during his rookie season in 2014. While he may not have the results he would want he has always been extremely fast here and even won back in 2017. I look for him to capture his second victory of 2021 come Sunday.

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