Seven years ago, ESPN debuted a documentary that was met by a level of excitement within me that hadn’t been witnessed before.
It was based on a story in which I had a lot of familiarity. It was based on a story that I’d had the privilege of discussing with many who played intricate roles in the outcome. It was a story that found itself at the forefront every March. And it is a story that always tugged at the heartstrings of graduates of my alma mater.
It was the story of the North Carolina State University 1983 Men’s Basketball Team. And their destiny that culminated with them doing what others thought was impossible to capture a national championship that is still talked about decades later.
Before then, my level of excitement about a documentary hadn’t been matched. Since then, it hadn’t been matched.
Until last year.
When ESPN announced that a 10-part documentary about the Chicago Bulls 1997-98 season entitled “The Last Dance” would grace our tvs in June 2020, I thought I was going to burst.
In my young life, I’ve been a fanatic of nine teams/people: the Lexington Senior High Yellow Jackets, the North Carolina State Wolfpack, the San Francisco 49ers, the Carolina Panthers, Ken Griffey, Jr., Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway, Vince Carter, Peyton Manning and the 90’s Chicago Bulls teams.
I have no recollection of how I became so enthralled with the Bulls.
Yet, I was.
Maybe it was the fact that included in our cable package was WGN, based in Chicago. I remember watching the station often with my granddaddy because he loved baseball and would watch the Chicago Cubs and White Sox often.
Maybe it was the fact that in middle school I began watching SportsCenter every morning before school. If it was basketball season, then I was guaranteed some Bulls highlights as I enjoyed my routine breakfast of cheese toast and orange juice.
Or maybe it was the fact that the Bulls went from underdog to dominance within an eight year span.
Whatever it was, I was hooked.
If the Bulls were on tv, I was watching.
And I wanted to see it all.
I had to be in front of the tv for introductions. There was nothing like the lights dimming and the crowd getting on one accord as the roar started low then grew. There was nothing like hearing that first note of The Alan Parsons Project song Sirius. There was nothing like hearing Ray Clay’s voice booming through the speakers as he started in with his signature, “And nooooow…”
I had tshirts, a jersey and trading cards. Summertime was my favorite time of the year and I spent each day outside starting early in the morning until whenever, playing.
With the exception of one day.
When it was time for the Bulls championship celebrations in Grant Park, I was in the house. In front of the tv. Until they were finished then I ventured out for neighborhood fun.
Last night, I was entrenched. While #TheLastDance was trending number one because hundreds of thousands were tweeting about it, I was entrenched. I was reliving my teenage years. I was seeing all the players I used to cheer for regularly pop up on my tv to share their sides of the story. I was hearing the music again. I was flashing back to life in those days.
When things were simpler.
When things made sense.
When all seemed right in the world, even though that was an illusion.
I was thrust back into a time that was unprecedented. I don’t believe we’ll ever see another run of domination like we saw from the 1990s Chicago Bulls.
And because of that, we need to tune in.
We need to soak it all up.
We need to learn what happened, why it happened and how it happened. We need to respect those that made it happen. We need to honor those that are the reason it happened. And we need to smile because we are alive to hear the story of it happening.
While watching last night, I realized there were a lot of details that I either forgot or because I so engulfed in trying to find balance in my teenybopper life, at the time, that I had become oblivious to what was taking place in the Windy City. Which makes this, for me, so special. I’m learning things I never knew about people I’ve admired since I was around nine years young.
And I can’t wait to learn more.
See ya’ll next week.
Same Bull time.
Same Bull channel.
P.S. Whoever decided that LL’s “I’m Bad” needed to serve as the soundtrack to MJ’s 63 point game in the Boston Garden should be put into somebody’s Hall of Fame today.