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Brian Miller
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Posted: 07 May 2020 at 2:30pm | IP Logged | 1 post reply

I loved the cracks about Dan Majerle. That was good stuff.
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 07 May 2020 at 2:58pm | IP Logged | 2 post reply

Good point Giorgos. Salaries were definitely part of the breakup equation and I meant to mention them but it got lost in my lengthy post. Interestingly, basically the entire Bulls roster including many solid players could have been easily resigned other than Pippen and Jordan. Rodman who was still plenty productive wound up signing with the Lakers for only $1M the following year (a $3.5 mill reduction). Kukoc wound up signing with Philly a year later for less than his last season with the Bulls. Kerr's salary only went up $1M the next year and never went up much after. Harper played one more year then signed with the Lakers for $3.2 mill less. Luc Longley played one more year then signed with the Suns for $800K more. The net salary of all those guys (the best players on the team after Jordan and Pippen) actually went DOWN a fair amount within a year of the Last Dance. It was all about Pippen and Jordan's salaries.

Jordan's $30.1M then $33.1M salaries his last two years as a Bull eclipsed some entire team salaries. Pippen's super-team friendly deal was coming to an end and Krause felt Pippen was rapidly aging and likely to be way less productive. Pippen's production did, indeed, soon decline so letting him go, while questionable ethically after all the championshp contributions Scottie made at ten cents on the dollar, wasn't fiscally irresponsible.

Jordan, on the other hand, obviously required more thought given the enormity of his deal (which would only increase had he re-signed.) My feeling is this. Whatever he could get he was worth. Not just because merchandising / licensing of his perpetually #1 selling jersey would easily defray almost any salary, not because his being in the lineup almost guaranteed a sellout both at home and on the road, but because as long as he was playing and healthy, the Bulls were a legitimate playoff threat.
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Giorgos Goumas
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Posted: 07 May 2020 at 3:05pm | IP Logged | 3 post reply

Brian, Majerle was at the Dan Patrick show a few years back and he mentioned that be loved guarding Jordan and the best in general for the challenge. Also, he mentioned that he never said something to Jordan, sk be wouldn't embarrass him. And that he would feel comfortable playing him a golf game :)
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 11 May 2020 at 1:02pm | IP Logged | 4 post reply

Majerle made the most out of solid if limited skills... good shot, tough hustle, smart guy who defended above expectations. He wasn't dirty, he played the right way. I don't know why I didn't like him more; maybe he was just in MJ's way in 1993.

There were two sets of Jordan Rules; the Pistons' manifesto on not allowing him to get airborne was one but the perceived set of alternate rules for Jordan versus his teammates was another. The end of part seven with various Bulls teammates saying how difficult (for some also rewarding) he was was actually milder than I would have thought. Maybe all is forgiven as long as you win?

In any case, my spine tingled at the music swell as Michael said "Winning has a price. Leadership has a price. So I pulled people along when they didn't want to be pulled. I challenged people when they didn't want to be challenged...(but) the one thing about (me) is that (I) never asked anyone to do anything that (I) didn't fucking do."
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 19 May 2020 at 2:32pm | IP Logged | 5 post reply

Great finish, great doc overall. I particularly liked the little snippets of film like MJ shaking Bird's hand behind the locker room after eliminating the Pacers in that epic 7 game series and smiling as he said "Enjoy yourself dog. You bitch, fuck you." Had never seen that awesome bit of film between the two greatest trash talkers. The truly sad background on Kerr's father was also something I didn't know or had forgotten... interesting that MJ and he never even broached it.

LeBron has already surpassed a lot of MJ's statistical records and I know I've even suggested one more championship could put him on the same pedestal as MJ but this series reminded me that MJ is simply the only guy in any professional sport who was able to rise to the occasion in every moment that truly mattered. Thanks to staying healthy and not retiring twice, LeBron's sustained level of excellence pretty much meets or surpasses Jordan's and he's had a similar amount of heroic moments but he's also failed more than a few times when it was all on the line and he had a shot. Jordan didn't win the finals every year but every time he had a team with a realistic shot, he won. Every time. And every time he won, he won MVP. That ability to produce and win under pressure is only equaled by Bill Russell, who would be the first to admit that Jordan was a far superior offensive weapon though they may have been similarly skilled defensively despite their size and positional differences.

If LeBron wins another championship the argument to stand next to Jordan is makeable but there's no way he'll ever surpass Jordan as GOAT even if he ultimately wins three more with the Lakers.
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Robert Bradley
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Posted: 22 May 2020 at 2:49pm | IP Logged | 6 post reply

That ability to produce and win under pressure is only equaled by Bill Russell

And if you go back another 10 years, George Mikan.
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 22 May 2020 at 3:52pm | IP Logged | 7 post reply

Mikan is another guy I wish I knew better. Good scorer and excellent rebounder who won plenty of big games as one of the first true centers. His goofy glasses and diaper foul shot make him look nerdy but five titles in his somewhat brief 7 year pro career is hard to fault. Would like to see more tape on him.
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Robert Bradley
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Posted: 22 May 2020 at 4:03pm | IP Logged | 8 post reply

Mikan had 7 titles his first 8 years (two NBL titles before the Lakers changed leagues and then 5 in his first 6 BAA/NBA years).

He was the top scorer in the league and then when they started keeping track of rebounding, he was the best at that too.

And If they had been giving out an MVP award during his career he probably would have gotten at least 5 or 6 of them.

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Rick Senger
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Posted: 22 May 2020 at 4:54pm | IP Logged | 9 post reply

Good point on Mikan. I forgot the first two years he played back in the 40s were before detailed stats so his first season with the Chicago Gear when he won in a ten team league and then again the next year with the Lakers in the NBL weren't reflected when I looked over his numbers quickly at Basketball-reference.com.

Interestingly, besides winning all those titles in such a short span, Mikan also shares with Jordan that he came back after retirement to diminished skills / success. Jordan obviously waited until his second retirement to do that but eventually even he became human. Father time and all.

We've had discussions of who was the most successful on the big stage before and for me Russell and Jordan remain the best I've ever seen (Mikan's stats and results certainly could merit consideration... I just know too little about him to opine.) But I do find it interesting that KC Jones of the Celtics only played eight seasons and happened to pick Boston's eight straight title year run. KC was only a decent player so he can't take much credit (though he did coach the Celtics to two more titles in the Bird era) but man... what was a blessed career.
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Robert Bradley
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Posted: 22 May 2020 at 5:29pm | IP Logged | 10 post reply

Russell did have Sam Jones around for 10 of those championships.  And Tom Heinsohn for 8 of them, John Havlicek for 6, Bob Cousy for 6 and Bill Sharman for 4.

All Hall of Famers.

Jordan had Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant or Dennis  Rodman.

Mikan had Slater Martin, Vern Mikelsen and Jim Pollard.

So all three of them had plenty of help and great coaches (Red Auerbach, Phil, Jackson and John Kundla), so they were hardly one-man shows.

Which is the real thing we should take away here - the Celtics, Bulls and Lakers won all those championships because they had great personnel and played well together.  Sure, they don;t win them without Russell, Jordan and Mikan, but if the Celtics didn't have Russell, the West & Baylor Lakers and Wilt's Warriors and Sixers teams would have (could have?) won more tiles.

During Jordan's foray into baseball the Bulls showed two things - 1) they weren't good enough to be the favorites without him (surprising nobody) and 2) they were still one of the better teams in the East (surprising a lot of people).

Very few good teams win titles without great players, but great players don't win without talented teams supporting them.

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Robert Bradley
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Posted: 22 May 2020 at 5:35pm | IP Logged | 11 post reply

I loved the cracks about Dan Majerle. That was good stuff.

Jordan was the master of finding way to motivate himself, be it real or imagined.  And I'm sure his teammates knew that and knew what buttons to push.

The Chicago front office's love of Majerle was just the sort of thing Jordan used to fire himself up.  He had plenty of dragons to slay in that Suns series - Barkley, who was named MVP over him; Ainge who had played on that great Celtics team that beat him in his first trip to the playoffs, and Majerle.
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 23 May 2020 at 12:20am | IP Logged | 12 post reply

You absolutely need great teammates to climb that mountain and all dynasties require the right consolidating moment... Boston getting Bird was what people remember but probably even more key was getting McHale and Parish for Joe Barry Carroll and Rickey Brown not long after. The Spurs got David Robinson but then had an incredibly fortuitous lottery break and wound up with Duncan who went on to easily eclipse David Robinson's importance. But they also got Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli. In order to win MJ needed Pippen (then Horace Grant and eventually guys like Rodman, Kukoc and Cartwright plus shooters like Paxson / Kerr.) But it also doesn't hurt a legacy to have worthy foes to measure yourself against. Magic and Bird. Boston and LA. Russell and Chamberlain. Chicago and Detroit. Which only makes it more amazing that Jordan didn't have that one nemesis (he was both beaten by and beat Bird, Thomas, etc. but as you suggest, he invented all sorts of imaginary dragons which he then slew one by one.)

Ultimately, there was no one to compete with peak Jordan on that ultimate stage because peak Jordan had no peer. If I recall it right, The Last Dance mentioned that Jordan closed out more Hall of Fame players in the playoffs in his career than any other player in the history of the game (something like 20?) including six different HOFers in the Finals alone (many more than once.) LeBron has played 60 more playoff games than Jordan (239 to 179) and Derek Fisher holds the all-time record at 259 (he lucked into great Lakers and Thunder teams), or 80 more. But Jordan beat more of the best in his shorter playoff career and when he had the horses, he always rode them to victory.

Edited by Rick Senger on 23 May 2020 at 9:36am
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