Dan Santaromita

B.J. Armstrong: Michael Jordan showed what it means to truly love something

B.J. Armstrong: Michael Jordan showed what it means to truly love something

With “The Last Dance” dominating the minds of the basketball world for the past few weeks, just about everyone has come out with something glowing to say about Michael Jordan.

B.J. Armstrong was Jordan’s teammate for several years, including during the Bulls’ first three-peat, and took it to the next level with what he said to Scott Van Pelt on SportsCenter on Sunday after Episodes 7 and 8 of “The Last Dance” aired.

“I saw an artist at work,” Armstrong said of Jordan. “I saw someone that brought creativity to the game of basketball and I saw someone that dedicated their life to the game and I don’t know if trying to be the best or trying to be the GOAT was ever the goal, but I saw someone who was committed and has that much respect for the game of basketball that just allowed me to see what it really, truly means to love something.

"He had an incredible amount of talent, but I tell you what, what he did with that talent was the most impressive thing I’ve ever seen and what I’ll always cherish as I tell my own kids how committed you have to be to if you want to be good at anything in life.”

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There’s not really much else that can be said to add to that. Jordan’s competitive nature has been on full display throughout the documentary, which has served as a reminder (or in some cases, a teaching tool) of what made Jordan great. In anticipation of the documentary’s release, Jordan was quoted as saying people would not think he was a nice person by the end of the series.

Armstrong used that insanely competitive nature to be an example of what it takes to be great.

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Why Michael Jordan wore No. 45 out of retirement and why he went back to No. 23

Why Michael Jordan wore No. 45 out of retirement and why he went back to No. 23

Michael Jordan and the No. 23 are synonymous, but he famously wore No. 45 when he returned from his first retirement in 1995.

When he retired in 1993, Jordan talked about how meaningful it was that his father saw him play his last game. Jordan’s father died in August of 1993.

Jordan talked about why he wore No. 45 when he returned in the spring of 1995 in Episode 8 of “The Last Dance.”

“I didn’t want to wear 23 because I knew my father wasn’t there to watch me, and I felt it was a new beginning and 45 was my first number when I was playing in high school,” Jordan said.

RELATED: How a George Karl cold shoulder motivated Michael Jordan for 1996 NBA Finals

Things changed when the Bulls faced the Orlando Magic in the 1995 playoffs. The Bulls lost Game 1 in Orlando in the Eastern Conference semifinals with Jordan committing two turnovers in the final minute of a close game.

“After the game Nick Anderson said ‘45 isn’t 23,’” Horace Grant said on the documentary. “Oh man (while rolling his eyes).”

Jordan came out with No. 23 on for Game 2, and the Bulls won in Orlando.

“I just felt like 45 wasn’t natural,” Jordan said. “I wanted to go back with the feeling I had with 23.”

Jordan wore No. 23 for the rest of the series and the rest of his career, but that series sparked the 72-win 1995-96 Bulls which went on to win the NBA title.

“That was one of Michael’s lowest points when he came back and they didn’t win,” Ahmad Rashad said. “He hated the fact that Horace was on the other team when they beat him and just to watch all the celebrating that they were doing. I think that’s what he took to heart. He used that for that next year.”

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Phil Jackson: Michael Jordan was 'denying a gift to society' by retiring in '93

Phil Jackson: Michael Jordan was 'denying a gift to society' by retiring in '93

Michael Jordan’s first retirement in 1993 was a shock to society and that was not lost on Phil Jackson when it was about to happen.

The story is told in Episode 7 of “The Last Dance.” Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf first found out when Jordan’s agent, David Falk told him of the news at a charity dinner that was sponsored by Jordan.

“At that time, we were coming off of three championships,” Jordan said in the documentary. “I fulfilled my responsibility to the city, to the Bulls, to my teammates.”

Reinsdorf said he did not try to talk Jordan out of retiring, but he insisted Jordan talk to Phil Jackson before making a final decision. That meeting took place in Reinsdorf’s office in the Berto Center in Deerfield.

“I told Phil, I said ‘Look, I’m about here. I’m about done. I have no more challenges. I have no motivation,’” Jordan said. “I was done.”

What Jackson told Jordan was a perfect representation of the type of coach Jackson was, and why Jordan liked playing for him so much.

“This was a young man who had gone through some heartrending things,” Jackson said referring to the recent death of Jordan’s father. “You’re denying a gift to society, but I understand, you know, I understand.”

RELATED: 'Last Dance': Michael Jordan invented slight to motivate him to torch LaBradford Smith

Jordan’s father died in August of 1993. He retired in October, with the news breaking while he was in attendance of a 1993 ALCS game at Comiskey Park between the White Sox and Toronto Blue Jays.

Jordan was 30 when he retired from basketball and the Bulls were coming off three straight titles. Previously in the documentary, Jordan talked about how exhausted he was, both emotionally and physically. Jackson understood that while also knowing the significance of Jordan retiring from basketball at that time. That’s why he was the Zen Master.

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