Michael Jordan’s docuseries “The Last Dance” brought back a ton of memories when it debuted on ESPN on Sunday night. The highlight-reel dunks, Jordan lighting up a cigar, and the 63-point effort by Jordan in a playoff loss to the Boston Celtics all stirred up flashbacks of the greatest player of all time. For some, those old takes brought back nightmares – just ask any fan of the Portland Trail Blazers.
‘The Last Dance’ strikes a chord with some
The highly anticipated release of Michael Jordan’s docueries “The Last Dance” lived up to its expectations Sunday night. The first two episodes aired on ESPN and brought back basketball fans to a time when they could relive the Chicago Bulls’ double three-peat title runs.
Jordan’s docuseries gave an in-depth look at Jordan’s college life, how he became a Chicago Bull, spoke of the challenges the front office was faced with as the team went for its sixth NBA championship. In only two hours, ESPN reflected on how Scottie Pippen, Jordan’s right-hand man throughout most of his career, was highly underpaid and therefore highly disrespected. It showed never-before-seen footage of the season in which the Bulls won their final title.
The series also unintentionally gave some fans a hard dose of reality. It was a sort-of slap-in-the-face dose of reality. For fans of the Portland Trail Blazers, “The Last Dance” was a docuseries of what could have been in Portland.
The Blazers select Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan
During “The Last Dance,” there came a point when the 1984 NBA draft was brought up and already social media was either feeling sorry for, or making fun of, the Portland Trail Blazers and their fans. Once the topic began, one Twitter post read, “The next ten minutes are gonna be bad for Sam Bowie and Portland. I can feel it.”
In “The Last Dance,” former Chicago Bulls GM Rod Thorn said the consensus was that enter Akeem Olajuwon was going to be the first pick in the draft. “Olajuwon would have been first by anybody who picked, including me,” he said. The Houston Rockets did select Olajuwon, but what came next is what has Blazers fans cringing.
Thorn, whose Bulls had the third pick, said he thought Jordan might slip to them because the Blazers already had a similar player in Clyde Drexler. He was right as the Blazers selected 7-foot-1 center Sam Bowie out of Kentucky. The oft-injured Bowie was a disaster in Portland, at one point playing in just 25 games in three years. Jordan was selected third.
Sam Bowie then triggered memories of Greg Oden
The flashback of the Portland Trail Blazers selecting Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan was just the beginning for Blazers fans. That moment had a trickle-down effect as that pick triggered memories of the Blazers selecting another oft-injured center over future 10-time NBA All-Star Kevin Durant.
In the 2007 NBA draft, the Blazers had the top pick and made the wrong decision, yet again. Portland selected 7-footer Greg Oden, who lasted just three years in the NBA after dealing with a series of knee injuries. The Seattle SuperSonics then selected Durant.
Meanwhile, the social media posts ripping the Portland Trail Blazers continued Sunday night. Memes, GIFs, and downright bashing of the Blazers flooded social media outlets as those bad days in Portland were hauntingly relived. One Twitter post asked a simple question: “If the Blazers drafted Michael Jordan and Kevin Durant instead of Bowie and Oden, and (Bill) Walton never gets hurt in 1978, does the franchise have double digit championships? I think so.”