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‘The Last Dance’ Episodes 9 and 10: NBA players share their reactions

Bulls star Michael Jordan tries to keep control of the ball in front of Pacers standout Reggie Miller during a game in February 1998.
(Fred Jewell / Associated Press)

ESPN’s “The Last Dance” documentary series on Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls’ final championship run during the 1997-98 season finished Sunday.

Episode 9 began with a look at the rivalry that developed between Jordan and Indiana Pacers star Reggie Miller. Jordan talked about how beating the Pacers “became personal to me” as tensions between the two teams reached their zenith during the 1998 Eastern Conference finals.

Miller, for his part, never backed down to Jordan, but he quickly learned how competitive Jordan could be in an instant.

“Never talk trash to black Jesus,” Miller said.

The documentary then looked at how Karl Malone winning the NBA’s most valuable player award for the 1996-97 season motivated Jordan during the NBA Finals against the Utah Jazz. Jordan also recounted his first meeting with Jazz forward Bryon Russell and how it ended up being a motivating factor for Jordan in the series, too.

Jordan then talked about Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals — the infamous “flu game.”

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The night before the game, ordered a pizza from his Salt Lake City hotel room. Jordan’s personal trainer, Tim Grover, immediately grew suspicious when “five guys” delivered the pizza.

But Jordan ate the entire pizza, and he quickly regretted it. “It wasn’t the flu. It was food poisoning,” he said.

Despite Jordan feeling awful, he put up one of the greatest performances in NBA playoff history in Game 5 to deliver the Bulls to victory.

The final episode of the documentary looked at the Bulls’ victory over the Utah Jazz in the 1998 NBA Finals — Jordan’s sixth and final title.

The documentary ends with Jordan and Bulls reflecting on their time together and moving on from the dynasty.

“I felt like we could have won seven. I really believe that,” Jordan said. “We may not have. But man, just not to be able to try, that’s just something that I can’t accept for whatever reason. I just can’t accept it.”


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