As millions have seen over the last three weeks during The Last Dance, Michael Jordan is a complex individual. Like most human beings, there are many sides to this man. It’s just that most of us don’t have 10-part documentaries made about us to showcase every side. There’s the competitive side, which helped Jordan to six NBA titles with the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s alongside the likes of Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Toni Kukoc, and Horace Grant.
But then there’s the petty side of MJ, the side that holds a grudge, the side that came out during his insanely awkward Hall of Fame speech in 2009. We’ve also seen this side during The Last Dance, the biggest instance coming when speaking on Isiah Thomas and the Detroit Pistons walking off the court in the 1991 Eastern Conference Finals. But those grudges might not be just for those that played against Michael Jordan.
So I’m watching episode six of The Last Dance on Sunday night and I noticed a big omission from the clips of the 1993 NBA Finals in which the Bulls beat Charles Barkley and the Phoenix Suns. And I’m wondering if that omission came from an earlier part of the episode involving Horace Grant. Allow me to explain.
Michael Jordan blames Horace Grant for leaking info to Sam Smith for ‘The Jordan Rules’
About a quarter of the way through episode six of The Last Dance, “The Jordan Rules” book written by Sam Smith becomes the main topic of conversation. This was the book that pretty much first shed some light on the fact that Michael Jordan was not a perfect person. Chronicling the 1990-1991 season of the Chicago Bulls, Sam Smith told story after story on topics such as Jordan’s intensity in practices, including some fistfights with teammates, his initial disdain of Phil Jackson’s triangle offense, and so much more.
The big question was exactly who was providing Smith with all of this behind-the-scenes information. As we all saw during The Last Dance, Michael Jordan has no doubt in his mind that it was Horace Grant, who some said was insanely jealous of all the attention that Jordan received. However, as we saw, Horace Grant fully denies all of those accusations. But as we know, if Michael Jordan believes something, he’s usually not going to change his mind.
Michael Jordan had a lot of control over ‘The Last Dance’
For The Last Dance to even get made, Michael Jordan first had to sign off on all of the footage that was shot during the 1997-1998 season as part of a deal he made with Adam Silver. It took him nearly 20 years to agree to the project and when things finally got underway about the rest of his career, he demanded that he be given the last word on the 105 other interviews that were given. Jordan’s production company, Jump 23, was involved in the process of putting this documentary together, which famed documentarian Ken Burns doesn’t like at all, and I’m wondering exactly how much say Michael Jordan himself had in the final cut. The reason I bring this up is because of the aforementioned omission I noticed in The Last Dance involving Horace Grant, which might seem small to some but seems much bigger to me.
John Paxson’s game-winning shot in the 1993 NBA Finals was shown in ‘The Last Dance’, Horace Grant’s game-saving block was not
As episode six of The Last Dance came to a close, the focus was on the 1993 NBA Finals between the Chicago Bulls and the Phoenix Suns. The teams went back and forth and Phil Jackson actually called it one of the most roller-coaster series he’s ever been a part of. So we get to Game 6. The Suns were leading 98-94 and Michael Jordan went coast-to-coast for a layup to make the score 98-96. Chicago got back on offense and the ball was inbounded to Jordan in the backcourt. He passed to Scottie Pippen, who drove the lane but then passed it to Horace Grant, who then kicked it out to John Paxson, who drained a three-pointer from the left wing to give the Bulls a 99-98 lead. So The Last Dance then cuts to Paxson, who talks about how he wasn’t supposed to get the ball but that he was ready. He hit the shot and it was naturally a very special moment for him. And all of a sudden, the documentary cuts to the Bulls’ celebration. But there was a big moment there that was cut out.
When Paxson hit his shot, there was still 3.9 seconds on the clock. This game was not over, especially since the Suns could get the ball at half-court. So Michael Jordan is on Kevin Johnson, who is inbounding the ball. Johnson throws it into Oliver Miller, who then gives it right back to Johnson while also taking Jordan out of the play. Horace Grant is right there but gets crossed over by Johnson, who now has a clear shot from the free-throw line as nobody is in front of him. But Grant never gave up on the play and swatted the shot away from behind, sealing the victory and Chicago’s third championship. It’s one of the best defensive plays in Finals history but wasn’t mentioned at all in The Last Dance. No highlight. No interview with Horace talking about it. Nothing.
Now, maybe I’m reading too much into this but the omission doesn’t seem like an oversight to me. I know there’s only so much time for an episode but it’s not a long play and talking with Horace about it would take about 20 seconds. You’re telling me there wasn’t an extra 45 seconds to cut somewhere else in episode six? I just find it a little odd that an episode in which Michael Jordan accuses Horace Grant of leaking information about him also includes cutting out one of the biggest plays of his career. Again, maybe I’m seeing something that isn’t there but this is an awfully big coincidence and seems like a classic Michael Jordan grudge.