The Last Dance. Michael Jordan. Chicago Bulls. 6 NBA Finals.
For 5 weeks, ESPN’s documentary on Michael Jordan and the 1998 Chicago Bulls captured the hearts of the world with insight into the championship team. Throughout this documentary they show countless stories of excellence, pain, heartache, and stories that made Michael Jordan the best basketball player ever and how he elevated the Chicago Bulls to win 6 Finals in 6 trips during the 1990s. There are 5 takeaways from MJ and the Bulls we can apply to our lives:
1. Work hard
Hard work is a price of admission to greatness. If you want to be successful you need to put in the time to be the best. This was seen after the Bulls lost in the playoffs in ’94 when Jordan returned at the end of the season after playing minor league baseball for a year. After the team’s defeat to the Magic, Michael and his teammates were in the weight room the next day getting ready for the ’95-’96 season instead of taking a break like every other season. The next season the Bulls won a then NBA record of 72 games in a season and is arguably considered the greatest team of all time. When Jordan played minor league baseball for a short period of time, he would hit before practice, practice, and hit more after practice. Even though his baseball career wasn’t anything special, he outworked every single player on his team.
2. Get back up
Michael Jordan didn’t make the varsity basketball team as a freshman or sophomore. Instead of feeling bad for himself and giving up, he put in work. His mom told him to stop complaining and work to change the outcome. When he was knocked down by the Pistons, he lifted more and gained the skills needed to surpass the “Bad Boys.” When the Bulls lost to the Magic in 1995, he put in the work to get better. Even when Jordan was so weak from food poisoning that he could barely shoot a basketball, he showed up to game 5 of the NBA finals and dropped 38 points to take a 3-2 series lead. Setbacks don’t have to hold you back.
3. Involve Your Teammates
At the beginning of his career, Michael placed all of the pressure to win games on himself without involving his teammates. Once Phil Jackson took over as the coach of the Bulls, he shifted to the triangle offense that incorporated a greater team approach. At first Michael didn’t like the transition because the ball was taken out of his hands. Involving his teammates took the Bulls to the next level and breaking the barrier to become Finals champions. Michael gave up decisive shots to Jon Paxon and Steve Kerr that led to key wins in the playoffs and championship games. Just like Michael says that he wouldn’t be anything without Scottie Pippen, you need key teammates to succeed.
4. Find a Source of Motivation
In a game against the Washington Bullets, LaBradford Smith dropped 37 points against Michael and the Bulls. The Bulls played the Bullets the following night and Jordan wanted his revenge. Michael created a story about Smith saying, “Good game, Mike” when they walked off the court the night of his 37-point outing. He used this fake comment as motivation to destroy the Bullets the following evening with 36 points in the first half and 47 for the game. MJ would find every little piece of fuel to give him the motivation to tear apart the other team every night. Find bulletin board material to motivate you.
5. Bigger than your Occupation
Michael Jordan is bigger than a basketball superstar, he is a world icon. He transformed Nike into the largest sports brand in the world, captured the hearts of people around the world, and inspired generations to go after their dreams. His greatness motivates people to go after their goals. He inspired Kobe, LeBron, and numerous other players to succeed and still inspires children all over the world to go after their dreams with vicious ambition.
There is a reason MJ is the GOAT and these 5 lessons are only part of what made him Air Jordan.
Be like Mike this week.
I appreciate you.