So The Last Dance has been danced and the series delivered on what it promised: the Chicago Bulls did the repeat threepeat to win the 1998 NBA Finals and Michael Jordan was named Finals MVP. It did more than that, of course. We all knew the ending in advance but it peeled back the curtain, or at least prised open the locker room door, of that team’s final season together. It also shone the light on Jordan’s fine supporting cast of spiritual coach Phil Jackson, No 2 Scottie Pippen, part-time wrestler Dennis Rodman and the various game-winning role players from John Paxson to Steve Kerr. If it did anything, it is introduce a new generation to Jordan – and his shoes – and remind some of those old enough to remember just quite what an unstoppable force Jordan was on and off the court. Not only has it done that within the confines of 10 episodes but it also kicked off a second wave of Jordan nostalgia. When MJ & Iverson met. The first words MJ said to AI: “What’s up you little b*tch?” pic.twitter.com/nJMLkuA2Hh — Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) May 17, 2020 Just in the last few days we have seen Allen Iverson recall his first meeting with Jordan – he called the rookie a “little b****” – and Jeremy Lin speak out about playing under him at the Charlotte Hornets, and arriving at the team in fear that their six-time NBA champion owner would take on the roster one-on-one after practice. An interview Jordan did with French sports paper L’Equipe in 2015 also resurfaced when the then 52-year old said that he could beat the players on his payroll. “I’m pretty sure I can, but I don’t want to do that and demolish their confidence, so I stay away from them.” This led the Hornet’s Miles Bridges to call out his now 57-year-old boss on Twitter. “Let’s get it then,” he wrote. He might not want it. Let’s get it then https://t.co/7MbAOAFhSL — Miles Bridges (@MilesBridges) May 17, 2020 As Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, the Hornets’ No 2 overall pick, revealed in 2013, Jordan still had it at 50. “He did play me 1-on-1 one time,” Kidd-Gilchrist said, via Dave Zangaro of CSN Houston. “And it was hard for me. I lost. I lost to a 50-year-old guy. That’s my boss, though. He’s the best player to play the game.” This type of mythologising of Jordan was at the heart of The Last Dance and the conversation surrounding it, good and bad. Just as seemingly everyone who has ever played golf with Jordan recounting that he offered to gamble “whatever you’re uncomfortable with” fuelling the conspiracy theory that his retirement to play baseball was cover for an NBA gambling ban . Airplay Jordan: Michael is the GOAT and rap is the proof But most of all it was the competitive nature driving Jordan on. “He’s like The Terminator” journalist David Aldridge said in episode nine, which covered “The Flu Game”, where Jordan in the 1997 Finals overcame the Jazz despite a dodgy pizza delivery. “It wasn't the flu game. It was food poisoning,” Jordan said. He finished the game with 38 points and another win. Time and again the series reaffirmed that Jordan wanted to win at all costs and The Last Dance is another win for the man (and for co-producers ESPN and Netflix). Former US President Barack Obama described Jordan as a “larger cultural force” and he was. This was an athlete who redefined global stardom, branding and expectations of athletes. He spent his off-season making a movie (and then beating the very best of the NBA in the court he made Warner Bros build for him on the Space Jam set). It is hard to overstate the popularity of Michael Jordan at the time, just how big his global profile was. That he called himself “Black Jesus,” when telling Reggie Miller not to trash talk him, is reminiscent of John Lennon’s famous quote of the Beatles. “More popular than Jesus,” Lennon said in a 1966 interview that lives on. Maybe, but were they more popular than Jordan? Republicans, murder and Spike Lee – a history of Nike Air Jordans NBA commissioner David Stern used to recount a story of a visit to China in 1990 when a local guide in Xi’an revealed her favourite team. “You know, I am a great fan of the team of the red oxen,” she told Stern and his wife, Dianne. Cue confusion then smiles on realising it was the Chinese translation for the Chicago Bulls that Jordan was busy trying to transform into championship contenders. Stern, who died earlier this year, had another quote in the final episode of The Last Dance. “In ‘92 the NBA was in 80 countries and now it is in 215 countries. Anyone who understands that phenomenon of that historical arc will understand that Michael Jordan and his era played an incredibly important part in it. He advanced us tremendously.” Thank you for coming.⁰ #TheLastDance #JUMPMAN pic.twitter.com/qKtoje0Msx — Jordan (@Jumpman23) May 18, 2020 Pitch-perfect nostalgia, ideally suited to the global coronavirus pandemic keeping everyone at home? Definitely. A Jordan hagiography? Possibly. The greatest branded content of all time? Probably. There are bound to be a few more sales of Air Jordans for the brand, just as memorabilia has seen its value spike as the world has flipped a switch back to the 1990s. Whatever it was, it worked. “Thank you for our last dance,” Scottie Pippen tells thousands of people in Chicago’s Grant Park after the 1998 championship, 22 years on his words summed up the view of a watching world. Help us understand what you are interested in so that we can improve SCMP and provide a better experience for you. We would like to invite you to take this five-minute survey on how you engage with SCMP and the news.