Over the past few weeks, the 1990’s Chicago Bulls ESPN/Netxflix documentary, The Last Dance, has been airing. My husband was uber excited about the series and had been talking about it for weeks. I honestly wasn’t expecting to watch it. Like, I knew of the Bulls (I mean, who didn’t know about them growing up in the 90’s). But I wasn’t a big basketball enthusiast. Plus, I grew up in Minnesota, so it wasn’t really like my team. But it was on while I was putting away laundry and I instantly got drawn in. When I first started watching, I thought it was all about Michael Jordan. But as I watched the entire 10 episodes, I quickly learned this was a documentary on the Chicago Bulls when Michael Jordan was their star player. Wait, scratch that, when Michael Jordan was the best player in the league. And while I am watching the documentary, I was quickly drawn into the life lessons that were shared throughout the entire series. So now I am getting super cheesy and sharing them with you!!
12 Life Lessons I Took Away After Watching The Last Dance
Pivot When You Feel It Is Time
If you grew up in the 90’s, you remember when Michael Jordan “retired” from basketball to play baseball. And he was actually pretty good at it. So this got me thinking. In life, things happen and you have a choice. Keep doing what you are doing or pivot. Michael Jordan decided to pivot. Then he pivoted back to basketball. But because of that pivot, he realized that he missed basketball. He actually said he wasn’t planning on going back to basketball, but the baseball strike allowed him the down time to think and play basketball “just for fun”. And in life, I really think you have to take those pivots to truly figure out what direction you want to keep moving. Life is too short to simply keep doing the same thing, over and over, especially if you feel a calling to try something new and the opportunity presents itself.
Practice + Drive = Success
Now this is kind of a no-brainer. When you practice and have the drive, you will succeed, in some way, shape, or form. This was totally true for Bulls player Steve Kerr. His story was one I was totally unfamiliar with. I didn’t remember him because I wasn’t really a Bulls fan. But listening to him share how Michael pushed him and he had to stand up for himself. And how he said Michael expected him to be perfect so he would constantly practice. He was just the definition of drive and practice equaling success. So it is no doubt that this was a really good take-away life lesson from The Last Dance.
You Can Make Mistakes And Still Be One Of The Best
Since I really don’t remember much of the actual sports going on, most of The Last Dance documentary was new information to me. I do, however, remember the majority of the Dennis Rodman drama, which I will get to later. But one thing I do remember is that Scottie Pippen was an incredible player. I always thought of him on the same level as MJ. Watching the episodes where they talked about Scottie’s contract, and him not playing at the end of a game. It became clear that even though he may have made mistakes, he was still an incredible player. Then I got to thinking that if he can make mistakes, and still come back, anyone can.
One interview with Scottie, he shared his thoughts on why he sat out for the end of a big game. He alluded to the fact that he felt cheated by the coach’s decision to let someone else take the final shot. But when asked if he would change it now, he said no. And I think sometimes we just know in our hearts what we have to do, even if it looks like a mistake to someone else. I really appreciated his honesty about that.
Be Your Authentic Self
Now onto Dennis Rodman! He truly was the one player I remember the most from that time. I mean, he wore a wedding dress and married himself. He dated Madonna and Carmen Electra. And he was a wrestler for like a hot minute. My husband doesn’t remember a lot of his shenanigans, but I sure do! And of all his wild and crazy things, he was always his authentic self. He didn’t try to “fit in” or be someone he wasn’t. He would dye his hair crazy colors, paint his nails, and dress however he wanted. All while being an incredible athlete. Which leads to my next life lesson…
Surround Yourself With Others Who Accept You For You…
Everyone knew Dennis was a “wild card”. But the entire team knew he would show up when he needed…with the exception of Vegas. In one of the episodes, the head coach is talking about Dennis and how he knows Dennis will show up for his team. You just have to give him space. When Phil Jackson (head coach at the time) talked about a specific game, he said he never questioned Dennis’ skills. If you give him space, he will thrive.
I feel like this goes for anyone. If you surround yourself with people who accept you for you, then you can actually be your authentic self. You can do the best work you can do. You can embrace all that you are interested in, without sacrificing another part of you. This also goes into my next life lesson.
…And Know What You Can Do
In the middle of the series, they talk about Michael Jordan’s father. If you aren’t familiar with the story, his father was murdered in his car on his way home from a weekend trip. The entire situation was just awful. But as MJ reflects back on his time with his father, you hear how his father truly believed in him and his talents and his drive. After his father’s passing and his baseball run, he found friendship in an older security guard. Michael shared that he really appreciated his advice. Which got me thinking that if you surround yourself with people who accept you for you and know what you can do, you are already ahead in life. Because these people see you for you but know your abilities, they will push you to do your best. And you will want to do your best. It is only human nature!
Tragedy Doesn’t Define You
This one goes without saying, but with Michael losing his father, he didn’t let that be the end of him. He didn’t let that tragedy be his defining factor in his life. For so many people, tragedy in their life is the definition of what their existence is about. But MJ didn’t let that define him. He took that and made a pivot in his life. Then he pivoted again when he felt the time was right. He continued to do things that defined him as a human, a person. Instead of being defined by a moment in time. He defined himself by what he was able to accomplish. This is how you not let tragedy define you.
Some People Aren’t Going To Like You
One of the episodes in the middle of the series goes into detail about how everyone thought Michael Jordan was the perfect human. He didn’t have any flaws. But they go into how his image started to “fall apart”. But when interviewed, MJ said he never intended to have this clean-cut image. He enjoyed playing cards and smoking cigars. And some people just had a problem with that. But I got the impression that Michael just didn’t care. It wasn’t about the likes or the image. He loved being competitive and winning. That’s what was his drive. Regardless of what anyone else thought, he continued to do what he did best. So another life lesson is to just know that some people aren’t going to like you. And you cannot be bothered with that. You just have to keep doing the things that drive you to be a better person.
You Don’t Have To Win Every Time
This life lesson isn’t really from the Bulls, but from the Pacers. In the last episode, they interview some of the Indiana Pacer’s team about a championship game. Again, I don’t remember this but knew if happened, if that makes sense! So they are talking to Reggie Miller about this series. And Reggie says that he believes they were the better team, but the Bulls’ championship experience helped them win. And that rationale made total sense to me. Which is why I feel like this life lesson is so important. You don’t have to win every time. You can still be the best, but not win. And that doesn’t take away anything about you or your “team”. You can use that to make you stronger and gain lessons from the experience.
Expect Perfection From Yourself
Michael Jordan expected perfection from himself every game. He would find inspiration from just about anything to fuel his fire. And he knew how to channel that, which gave him the ability to expect perfection from himself. And when he saw himself not performing his best, he worked harder to perfect that skill he felt needed to be perfected. This drive is what made him the greatest. And it is something I think everyone can take and use in their own lives. Expect perfection from yourself. And if you can’t do it perfect now, work hard to get there. Practice. Focus. Learn the skill. Don’t wallow in pity for yourself.
Expect Perfection For Those Around You Too
Now this life lesson came from an article I read after watching two of the episodes. They were critiquing Michael Jordan and how he would be really hard on his teammates. The article was equating him being hard on his teammates to him being “not a nice guy”. And I have to disagree with that whole conclusion. Because, as I was watching the last few episodes, some of his teammates expressed their appreciation for him pushing them to be their best selves. They saw that drive and it pushed them to work harder. And if you didn’t show your worth, then Michael had the foresight to see what you could handle under pressure. And he was right! Those individuals who couldn’t “take the heat”, didn’t hold up under pressure when they played difficult teams like Detroit. By expecting perfection from those around him, he was able to create the best team.
Don’t Worry About Your Shot Before You Make It
This was probably my favorite quote from the entire series… They were talking about how Michael Jordan lived in the moment. He never worried about a shot before he makes it. When asked these questions during press conferences, he was always confident of his skills but didn’t live in fear for what was to come. As I am watching this episode, I really started to think about myself and my life and how I handle situations. I do always worry about the outcome. But what if I stopped worrying. Would that help me live in the moment? Would that stop the anxiety that comes with that worry? Probably. So let’s all stop worrying about your “shot” before you actually make it. Get out of your head and live in the moment!
If you grew up in the early 90’s and haven’t watched The Last Dance yet, I highly recommend it. Or if you really enjoy sports and want something to watch, then I have to say I am surprised you didn’t watch it already. The documentary was really well-done. Now, if you don’t remember a lot of the sporting events, like myself, then you may need to do a quick Google search in between episodes to figure out some of the timelines, since they do jump back and forth. My analytical brain needs thing sequential to make sense of it all.