The Last Dance was a machine, churning out quotes and memeable moments. Here are the best of the best from the final two episodes.
The Last Dance has run its course with the last two episodes closing a carefully constructed loop. The final hours covered the 1998 Eastern Conference Finals against the Indiana Pacers, the rivalry with the Jazz and both the 1997 and 1998 Finals, as well as the final dissolution of the Jordan Bulls.
As usual, the behind-the-scenes footage and new interviews provided a mountain of epic quotes. We’ve already got your covered for the summary and reactions, as well as the five new things we learned, but here are a few of the best quotes from the finale.
“Don’t ever talk trash to Black Jesus.” — Michael Jordan to Reggie Miller.
The cold open of episode 9 built out the rivalry between Jordan and Reggie Miller, a backdrop to their epic matchup in the 1998 Eastern Conference Finals. Miller told a story about playing the Bulls as a rookie, scoring on Jordan and, as he told it, trying to impress the veterans on his team by throwing some trash talk Michael’s way.
You know how this story ends. Miller doesn’t score again, Jordan puts up a bazillion points and then drops the mic on Miller as he’s leaving the court. According to Reggie, this was the last time he referred to Jordan by his full name. After that, it was only “Jordan”, “Black Jesus” or “That Black Cat.”
The best part of this story is that this was the 1,238th time (roughly) in the documentary that Jordan turned trash talk into a firehose of gasoline on his own personal ragefire. “It became personal for me,” Jordan said about the rivalry with the Pacers — an un-shocking admission after watching 10 hours of documentary film-making about how he took everything personally.
“I ate the pizza, all by myself. No one else eats the pizza.” — Michael Jordan explaining the story behind “The Flu Game.”
Jordan’s mythology is built on countless epic performances, but perhaps nothing embodies the “indomitable will” aspect of his story like The Flu Game. This is Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals, in Utah. Jordan can barely stand, literally leaning on Pippen for support during a timeout. And somehow, he still rises to the occasion and pours in 38 points to give the Bulls a 3-2 series edge.
People have joked for years about Jordan’s flu actually being a wicked hangover but in his telling, it was a suspicious pizza delivery. Jordan’s trainer, Tim Grover, said that five guys showed up in the hallway outside Jordan’s room to deliver a pizza the night before the game. Jordan set the record straight that he did not share the pizza with anyone. The obvious implication is that it was poisoned. The only thing anyone will remember is that Jordan could have been a champion competitive eater.
“So I thought to myself, well, I guess I gotta bail Michael out again.” — Steve Kerr at the championship parade after the 1997 Finals.
It was Kerr, not Jordan, who hit the shot to ice the Jazz in the 1997 Finals and Kerr had some fun retelling the story at the championship parade. What a mensch. Would it surprise you to learn that Jordan took this good-natured ribbing as an immense personal slight and hung 53 on Kerr when he came out of retirement with the Wizards and Kerr was with San Antonio? (This didn’t actually happen but it wouldn’t surprise you would it?)
“You b****, f*** you.” — Michael Jordan to Larry Bird after finishing the Pacers in the 1998 Eastern Conference Finals
Jordan and Bird built their rivalry on the court, but their last meeting came when Bird was coaching the Pacers. Indiana took the Bulls to seven games in this series and Jordan said in the documentary that no one played them tougher during this stretch. A recurring theme was how invincible the Bulls seemed to their opponents but Miller said repeatedly that he thought they were the better team and they had a real chance to pull it off. But Jordan was too much and, after Game 7, he found Bird in the tunnel to offer one last bit of trash talk on his way out.
“They can’t win until we quit.” — The man himself
They didn’t win until he quit. But does correlation equal causation? I guess we’ll never know.