‘The Last Dance’ for the first time: Week four

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Michael Jordan / mccarmona23 / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

In week four of ESPN’s “The Last Dance,” Michael Jordan reflects further on his attitude towards basketball.

If you didn’t know, I play basketball —  I have since I was less than eight years old. I’d also be the first to tell you about the importance of strong team leadership, mostly because I’ve experienced all different types of it — the good, the bad, and the lack thereof. 

At least I thought I had. 

But, after seeing Michael Jordan run a team, I can say with confidence there is still much I have yet to experience as a player. Most guys I play with, myself included, don’t want to risk their teammates’ approval for victory. We are too scared to throw away everything else for a chance at glory.

Jordan wasn’t.

In week four of ESPN’s 10-part docu-series, “The Last Dance,” I learned for the first time what it’s really like to put winning before everything else. And, to be honest, I don’t think it’s worth it. 

To me, the sight of Jordan tearing up at the end of episode seven was hard to watch. Even if there wasn’t complete regret, Jordan had to have felt some remorse for the way he “played the game,” as he puts it. Why else would he get choked up? 

It’s difficult for me to discern what route to take in my own basketball career after watching Jordan’s story. Heading into my senior year, most likely my “last dance” as a player, a part of me wants to risk everything for the next eight months and give it a shot. But, looking at Jordan now, I can’t say that’s the way I want to look back on my career.

I want to look back at my career and smile, I want to laugh with my teammates, and I want to enjoy every minute that I have left to play. But I want to win, too. 

If there’s a way to win without so much sacrifice, I’m running out of time to find it. I look at Jordan and wonder if he enjoyed his career as much as I want to enjoy mine. I don’t think he did.

From watching “The Last Dance,” it has become clear to me that Jordan had his foot halfway out the door throughout his reign. My question is how can you be content if you always want to be elsewhere? 

But then again, I’m not Jordan. I’ll never know what it was really like to put it all on the line for victory — and that’s my decision. Jordan’s decision was his. That’s why he’s the greatest. That’s why I’m not, and I’m alright with that.

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