Tuesday, May 19, 2020

The Last Dance: Discussion Guide Part 5 of 5

As much as I have enjoyed watching and rewatching every episode of ESPN's 30 for 30: The Last Dance to create a discussion guide for coaches, athletic directors, fans and those who find spirituality in sport, the final installment, Part 5 of 5 boils down to one singular idea, one claim so meaningful it could serve as the thesis for a paper, a presentation, heck a new series. That insight is the only talking point I would like to offer in response to Episodes 9 and 10.
A number of basketball fans I know and respect have had common reaction to "The Last Dance." They claim that docu-series didn't reveal much they didn't already know. I find that a little hard to believe. Smug too. To me, one of the great attributes of the program is the number and variety of respondents who weigh in. Everyone from Steve Kerr's mom, Ann to Justin Timberlake, players like Gary "The Glove" Payton to the fit as a fiddle Reggie Miller, MJ's kids and #43, himself Barack Obama weigh in.  Surely they offer a new insight or narrative gem. Doesn't that count?! 

Whether or not you learned a lot from "The Last Dance," whether or not you watched one hour or all ten, there is however one singular idea that stands alone as incredibly important. I will be referencing this moment, this scene, this takeaway as long as I teach.

I absolutely love that the director decided not to include this truth until Episode 10. All nine programs before gave evidence for why Michael Jordan is truly one of the greatest and what he did and for this revelation.

Mark Vancil, Author Rare Air said, 
Most people struggle to be present. People go and sit in ashrams for 20 years in India trying to be present. Do yoga, meditate. Try to get here now. 
His words are juxtaposed against an image of Jordan sitting on the team bus, six hours before tip off of the 1998 Finals in Salt Lake City. He is wearing sunglasses, beanie and Beats-like headphones long before they were cool. He is in his own place, bumping to hip hop music created by his friend, the artist.
Vancil adds, 
Most people live in fear because we project the past into the future. Michael is a mystic. He was never anywhere else. 
His gift was not that he could jump high, run fast or shoot a basketball. His  gift was that he was completely present. And that was the separator. 
I heard those words and said to myself, "I want some of that."

You will not find a course on spirituality or its many iterations—mindfulness, meditations and so forth—that suggest doing anything but that: be present. Truly it is a gift. Truly it is a quality that makes human beings great. Truly it is the separator.

The good news about Michael's gift is that it is something anyone can attain. Whereas I'll never fly through the air to dunk or steal a ball on the left side of a great player like Karl Malone, I too can be nowhere but here. Now.

So debate all you want about whether or not The Bulls would have one #7. Argue if they should have gone for it. I get it; we don't want this story to end or maybe we would like another 10 hours of basketball highlights, trash talk, personality quips and coaching insight. I would only look to continue for more evidence of Michael as a mystic. What I received was abundant. I'm grateful, here and now.

Photo Credits
Last Night
Sitting Solo

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