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Why the ‘Last Dance’ was about more than just sports…

Over a five-week period in April and May, millions of people tuned in to watch the ESPN docuseries, “The Last Dance”, about Michael Jordan and the 1990s Chicago Bulls dynasty. Whether it’s the lack of live sports and entertainment in a COVID-19 world or the never-ending admiration people have for Michael Jordan, everyone was talking about the series. Basketball fan or not, it was an incredible story that people of all ages and backgrounds will enjoy.

Spoiler alert: Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls won six NBA championships during the 1990s, twice winning three in a row, and went down in history as one of the best sports dynasties in history. Michael Jordan will forever be part of the debate for greatest of all time and Dennis Rodman will be remembered for his wild tendencies. Most of us knew all of this before watching a single episode of the series and yet something about it captured the attention of millions. Every episode was about so much more than just sports.

I would argue that everyone who watched, either consciously or sub-consciously, took something away from it. Here are a few of the lessons that we walked away with:

PATIENCE IS REQUIRED

The age of technology is creating an issue across all generations, especially the younger ones. Yes, we are guilty of this also. Technology has created a society where people look for and need instant gratification. The problem is that becoming an overnight success or getting rich quick shouldn’t be expected and is highly unlikely. Michael Jordan, arguably the greatest basketball player ever, didn’t have overnight success so why should we expect it? He may have been known as a great basketball player, but that doesn’t mean he immediately started winning championships. As many of us have heard, he was even cut from his high school basketball team.

We shouldn’t mistake patience for complacency either. Exhibiting patience by sitting back while the word keeps turning won’t bring success. Hard work is always required, but don’t expect results overnight. Success can be a slow grind and is different for each and every individual based on their circumstances.

MAKE THE COMMITMENT

The 1990s Chicago Bulls made a commitment to win. They had a clear goal to win a championship and made the commitment to do whatever it would take to win. It’s easy to make a lofty goal, but it’s difficult to commit to the amount of work needed to achieve that goal. There were numerous interviews during “The Last Dance” where someone mentioned the amount of time and thought that Michael Jordan put in to his craft. Michael Jordan’s commitment to the Bulls organization, his family, and himself was always something to be admired. For most people, there isn’t a better example of commitment than his infamous “flu game” where he scored 38 points while being exhausted from flu-like symptoms.

He also acted as a leader by pushing this commitment on to his team. His leadership style was criticized at times, but the results speak for themselves. Did his commitment and leadership style come across as ruthless? At times. Whether this leadership style would work in other environments is a debate for another day, but what can’t be debated is how he was able to make his entire team as committed as he was. As Jordan said in “The Last Dance”, “winning has a price and leadership has a price”. Jordan later said “I never asked a teammate to do something that I am not currently doing”.

IT TAKES A TEAM

Michael Jordan may have been the star of the show, but he couldn’t have done it by himself. There were so many people that had a part in the dynasty it would be hard to list them all. From Phil Jackson and Scottie Pippen to Steve Kerr and Scott Burrell, they all had their role. We’ve seen time and time again situations where a superstar doesn’t have the right cast of supporting characters around him or her and struggles to have success. This doesn’t always mean that it needs to be the most talented team either. We’ve also seen situations where the most talented group isn’t the best team.

How do we relate this to life and business? If you want to have success in your personal or professional life surround yourself with the people that will help you succeed. Find your “coach” in Phil Jackson, find your right-hand man in Scottie Pippen, and find the teammate you can trust in Steve Kerr. Without the right team it will be difficult to succeed.

“The Last Dance” was an incredible documentary and one that everyone should watch. Even if you are watching purely for enjoyment try to find a few lessons that you can apply to your life. As Michael Jordan said at the end of the docuseries, “all you needed was one little match to start the whole fire”. Find that match in your own life.

Gregory J. Wiemer II, CPA 

Chuck Ziants

Wealth Managers | Confluence Financial Partners

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