The Chicago Bulls have a library on-hand of Michael Jordan practice footage
For Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan fans, The Last Dance was a much welcome deep dive, a close look at Jordan’s impact and legacy with the franchise in the 80s and 90s. The 10-part ESPN documentary has now been fully released to the public as of Sunday night.
For the most part, it was an honest and optimistic look-back at all the glory Jordan brought the Bulls. In all, Jordan brought the team six championships by way of two separate three-peats.
Toward the end of the final episode, there was a bitter taste left in the mouths of Bulls fans, though.
Jordan revealed that he would have come back and gone for seven if Jerry Krause hadn’t pushed Phil Jackson out. It was just one of the mistakes Krause made in the summer of ’98.
While the documentary as a whole was profound and revealing, some specific never before seen clips really help drive the character of Jordan home.
Throughout the doc, there were so many gems in B-roll footage that helped support the narrative of each episode and remind us just how charismatic and unique Jordan was.
There’s footage of Dennis Rodman running away from the media after practice in a backdoor tunnel.
There’s footage of Jordan dancing to unreleased music as he gets on a team bus, truly living in the moment.
And of course, there’s now-iconic footage of Jordan gambling with some of his security guards before games.
Most of all, the practice footage. Oh, gosh, how great that was.
While it didn’t dominate each episode, there were several scenes that featured Bulls practices, displaying just how intense Jordan was and how much he asked of his teammates.
Whether it was him going at someone like Scott Burrell or calling out his teammates to get a rise out of them, Jordan clearly approached practice like no other player. He’s one of the few that practiced harder than he played.
If there was an extended cut with more practice footage, or perhaps some “deleted scenes” of Jordan’s intensity at practice, don’t you think you’d watch?
Well, turns out those tapes do exist.
Tom Thibodeau reveals the Bulls have a library of Michael Jordan practice footage
Speaking to Adrian Wojnarowski on The Woj Pod, former Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau revealed that the Bulls keep a library of Jordan practices on tape, and that he learned a lot from watching those when he first started in Chicago.
"“[Chicago] also had a lot of video of the practices, so I had a chance to watch the practices, and then I got to know Michael.”"
He agrees, more episodes revealing some of the footage of these tapes would be good for us all.
"“I wish there were 100 episodes,” Thibodeau said of The Last Dance."
Thibodeau gained a lot from just evaluating Jordan’s psyche and practice mentality from the tapes when taking on a new role with the Bulls. It helped him attempt to carry on the legacy of success that remains even decades after Jordan.
"“You have like, those video tapes available and you’re watching ‘em and you’re going, ‘this is, this is incredible.’ Just the way he practiced all the time, the way he led people, you could see how competitive he was. And I think that was huge, that was the mark of that team.”"
It’s easy to see why Thibodeau implemented a hard work strategy with each team that he coached. It existed in Chicago far before his time with the Bulls.
While it’s gained him a reputation of having overworked his star players as a head coach, it’s hard to deny that Thibodeau has a high bar for the players he is leading, and it can be said that some of that certainly comes from Jordan.
"“I got to know him a little bit once I got to Chicago and so I had some conversations and I was able to ask him, ‘is this true?’ And most of the stories he said yes.”"
While it’s unlikely any of these tapes ever make it out to the public, we can certainly dream. Wouldn’t we all watch hours and hours on end of Jordan practices?
Any previously unseen basketball footage these days sounds lovely, to be honest.