The Last Dance has thrust Michael Jordan back into the spotlight, 22 years after his final season with the Bulls ended with one of the greatest closing minutes an individual has had on the NBA floor. The basketball world happily tuned in as ESPN moved up the release date by two months to provide a welcome respite and distraction amid stay-at-home orders and a lack of live sports.
Current players turned into fans again, watching and tweeting along with us normal folks as we took a stroll down memory lane and behind the scenes of the Bulls dynasty and, more specifically, the Chicago career of Michael Jordan. LeBron James was among those that was asking for the documentary to be moved up early, and on Monday after the finale of the 10-part series, he joined Maverick Carter and Paul Rivera on Uninterrupted’s “WRTS After Party” to discuss the documentary, Michael Jordan’s impact on him, and tell some stories about his interactions with Jordan over the years.
He talked about crying when Jordan retired in 1993 as a nine-year-old who idolized MJ, and then recalled being a 16-year-old sophomore phenom who ended up in a pickup game with Jordan, Antoine Walker, Jerry Stackhouse, Paul Pierce, Penny Hardaway, and a number of the baby Bulls in the early 2000s.
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“Him and Antoine Walker was just talking so much sh*t, back and forth, back and forth,” James said. “They didn’t let me play for like the first hour, cause I’m 16, just the young guy waiting my turn, and to be honest, I didn’t even think I’d get the opportunity to play. The only reason I played is cause the guys in the league, after an hour some of them get tired, like, ‘I’m done with this sh*t. Young fella, we need a fifth, you wanna play?’ So for me being on the court, 16 years old, a sophomore in high school with my favorite player of all-time, man it was like this can’t be real. Pinch me, I hope I don’t wake up.”
“”There was a point in that game, it was to seven or whatever — it was pickup — and Stackhouse was there, Paul Pierce, Penny was playing, Ron Artest, Jamal Crawford, all the Baby Bulls, Eddy Curry,” Carter added. “Mike and ‘Toine were just like, split them up they were kinda captains of each team and they wouldn’t stop, and Mike hit a game-winner with the follow — same Utah Jazz follow through. He was like, ‘Yeah that’s why they pay me $33 million to do this.’ I’ll never forget that.”
LeBron went on to talk about playing with Jordan as a rookie at his L.A. camp, where he and MJ “never lost a game,” but the high school story is incredibly cool. For one, that collection of players is pretty incredible, and for LeBron as a 16-year-old to get a chance to play in that environment, you can tell just by how he talks about it that it meant a lot to him as a young budding star.