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The Last Dance | EP 2 : Review | Growth Of Bulls Roster
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The Last Dance | EP 2 : Review | Growth Of Bulls Roster 

Episode 2 of the series ‘The Last Dance’ provided us with further insights into the Chicago Bulls controversies and Scottie Pippen to be specific. If you haven’t seen the first episode then I would strongly suggest that you read our review on the first episode before this one.

This episode has two major plots: Scottie Pippen and the growth of the Bulls’ roster.

We are introduced to Scottie Pippen and we learn about the problem that he had been facing for a long time.

Scottie Pippen-the forward for the Chicago Bulls- came from humble beginnings. He rose from poverty in Arkansas to become Michael Jordan’s number 2 man and a fellow Hall of Fame member. His poverty and responsibility to provide for his family led to him signing an unfair and underpaid contract with the Chicago Bulls of 18 million dollars for 7 years.

In the 1997-98 season, he was ranked the #2 player on the Bulls team in rebounds, and minutes played, he was #1 in assists, and steals; but he was #6 on the Bulls in salary. He did not even crack the NBA’s highest 100 paid players. The management of the Chicago Bulls refused to increase his salary or renegotiate the deal, especially since he signed the contract. Adding further fuel to the fire, the General Manager of the bulls at the time, Jerry Krause, publicly announced that he engaged in trade talks with respect to Scottie.

To retaliate, Scottie postponed a surgery for a ruptured tendon in his ankle. His reasoning for this was “I’m not gonna f*** my summer up trying to rehab for a season. They’re not gonna be looking forward to having me. So I’m going to enjoy my summer, and use the season to prepare.”

This scene was very essential for the plot development and helps us understand the gravity of the situation. This part of the story has been developed very well and makes the issue clear.

Michael was not happy when he heard about this. He was very frustrated. He said in an interview, “Every day that Scottie wasn’t playing gave someone else the confidence that they could beat us.” Jordan took up a more important figure in the team as he had to motivate everyone to fill Pippen’s void. “I let my anger motivate the players,” said Jordan. He scored 49 points in a game for their first win of the new season against the Clippers. They lost 4 games before that and dragged the game against the Clippers to overtime. This win was shameful as the clippers were the worst team at the time. Although Jordan was putting up insane performances, the team was not performing.

The show then goes back in time to Chicago. In the year 1986, Michael returned from a foot injury of his own, and once he returned, the muscles in his injured calf were actually stronger than his uninjured one. So then he told management that he had been playing an hour and a half a day, every day, for the last week in 5 vs 5 matches, and when he came back to the NBA to play against the Boston Celtics, in the first round of playoffs, he played extremely well. He had set an NBA playoff record with a 63 point explosion. This led to the famous Larry Bird declaration that he was “God disguised as Michael Jordan.”

His rivals have also praised his performance. The Los Angeles Lakers guard Magic Johnson, offered some praise also, saying, “Jordan is the most talented player in the NBA by far.”

But this would not be enough. Jordan didn’t have any help. The Celtics defeated the Bulls, big time. This is when the General Manager of the Bulls, Krause, set out to rebuild the team. He started with trading Scottie at the 1987 draft, and adding forward Horace Grant. He then traded Charles Oakley for the center Bill Cartwright. And hence, the core of the first three peat for the Bulls was complete.

When Scottie arrived in training camp, he came in as a rookie, and had defeated weaker competition in his college days, but the NBA was a whole different ball game. Jordan was at the center of the Bulls, and Scottie would have to fit in. On his part, Jordan bought a set of golf clubs, and gifted them to Scottie. But Scottie could see through the gesture. He jokingly said that Michael was “trying to lure me in so he could take all my money”, through gambling while on the course.

Scottie’s financial issues had troubled him all through his prime days. Against the ownership’s advice, he signed a long term, 7-year contract, stating that he valued job safety for his family in Arkansas, where his older brother went through a wrestling accident, where he was paralyzed. A few years later, his father suffered a stroke, which left him in a wheelchair and took his ability to speak. This contract made Scottie the most undervalued NBA player; he was the 122nd highest-paid player in 1997.

Modern talent, athletes, actors, or musicians would never have to deal with Scottie’s situation. The current negotiation agreement is much more efficient than in the 90s. Most contracts nowadays last four years, or five at max. The power that athletes have nowadays is different from back then. If a GM like Krause was working with the Bulls currently and was disliked by two-star players, and the coach, he would struggle to keep his job.

In Scottie’s case, the combination of his low salary, and the GM’s trade comments were too much. The Bulls’ coach Phil, and multiple other players recalled how Scottie berated Krause on the bus ride during the 1997-98 season.

In a recent Interview, Scottie said that “After you’re in the game for a while, you realize that nobody is untradeable.”

These facts are crucial for the mass media to understand the tension that has been created in the squad at the time. The episode does a great job of captivating the audience and building up curiosity.

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