The Last Dance has shown us a never-before-seen side of Michael Jordan: MJ the potty mouth. With millions of dollars tied to his public persona, Jordan has always been fairly guarded in his public remarks. But episodes 3 and 4 of ESPN’s 10-part documentary series on Jordan’s final season with the Chicago Bulls saw the iconic NBA star letting loose with the curses. According to this article, the final swear card came to “12 f-bombs, 4 s—ts and bulls—ts, and 1 a—hole.” That’s not Jaxson Hayes-level bad but it’s still jarring coming from one of the most ubiquitous and marketable celebrities on the planet (for the easily offended or those with young kids, an edited version without the swears airs concurrently on ESPN2).
The cheap thrill of hearing Jordan use profanity is just one of the many reasons why the docuseries has been a smash hit. Mostly, its appeal is an obvious one: We get to revisit one of the greatest careers in the history of pro sports, NBA or otherwise. As the story moves onto the second half of the Bulls’ 97-98 campaign, here are three things we’re excited to hear more about in episodes 5 and 6 on Sunday night.
In the ‘90s, Michael Jordan was everywhere on TV, even if you didn’t watch basketball. His campaigns for Gatorade, McDonald’s, Wheaties, Coca-Cola, and Hanes all immediately come to mind, but the full list is far longer and includes everything from Rayovac Batteries to Bijan cologne.
But there’s one brand that’s still synonymous with MJ, the one that arguably elevated him from elite basketball player to global superstar: Nike. Jordan’s relationship with the footwear giant changed both their fortunes, literally and metaphorically. It should be interesting to find out more about his game-changing sneaker deal, as well as his other high-profile sponsorships.
ESPN just released the clip above, in which Jordan takes personal offense at being compared to Portland Trail Blazers star Clyde Drexler ahead of their showdown in the NBA Finals. Nevermind that Drexler is a championship-winning Hall of Famer who still holds multiple NBA records; in Jordan’s mind, any comparison to another player was the equivalent of religious blasphemy. It speaks volumes about Jordan’s competitive drive that a benign comparison would spark such outrage. It says even more about his talent that he was able to unleash 35 points — including a record-setting six 3-pointers — in the first half of Game 1.
Imagine if your coworker was quite possibly the most famous person on the planet, with earning power greater than yours by several orders of magnitude. It’s difficult to imagine that this would create a healthy workplace, no matter the success you achieve.
Such was the double-bladed sword of playing alongside Michael Jordan. If nothing else, The Last Dance director Jason Hehir has done an exceptional job at exploring the internal drama that surrounded the team in the ‘90s. The coming episodes should dig even further into this, especially as it relates to locker room leaks. Jordan seems convinced that Horace Grant was the culprit, a charge that Grant denies. Will we finally find out who was spilling the beans to the media? Probably not, but we'll certainly be there to find out.
Watch episodes 5 and 6 of The Last Dance back-to-back beginning at 9pm ET on Sunday, May 3. Episodes 3 and 4 will air on ESPN immediately before; you can also catch up with Sling On Demand.