Magic Johnson

ESPN to air 'Last Dance' post-series special with Magic Johnson, Stephen A. Smith

ESPN to air 'Last Dance' post-series special with Magic Johnson, Stephen A. Smith

To the sadness of many, ESPN's "The Last Dance" completes its five-week, ten-episode run May 17.

But the fun won't stop at 10 p.m. CT, when Episode 10 concludes. Or even when all the post-show festivities wrap up.

ESPN announced it will air an hour-long special Tuesday at 7 p.m. CT called "After the Dance with Stephen A. Smith: A SportsCenter Special," per The Hollywood Reporter. In addition to the always-lively Smith's musings, Magic Johnson will co-host the program, which is being billed as a platform for the two to flesh out their biggest takeaways from the series.

Johnson, specifically, has been quoted throughout the series from present-day interviews and features prominently into Jordan's career. The Bulls' first title of the 1990s came over Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers in 1991, Johnson starred on the 1992 Dream Team, and then, in his post-retirement days, he covered segments of the Bulls' dynasty for NBC.

"The Last Dance" has smashed ratings expectations nationally, averaging 5.6 million viewers per episode as of this writing, according to the Chicago Tribune. It's stimulated vast conversation across social media, television and radio, as well, given its positioning at the center of the sports universe during a global pandemic that has ground most leagues to a halt.

ESPN isn't ready to let the party end. And neither are we.

 

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Larry Bird told Magic Johnson 'Michael Jordan is now’ during 1992 Olympics

Larry Bird told Magic Johnson 'Michael Jordan is now’ during 1992 Olympics

There are so many epic stories about the 1992 Olympic Dream Team. The names and characters assembled on that team combined with the fact that they were the first team of professionals to play for Team USA were a perfect match.

Ahmad Rashad had a story of his own that he shared on Twitter on Tuesday. It involves Rashad overhearing a debate between Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan at a hotel in Barcelona during the 1992 Olympics.


MORE JORDAN: Jason Caffey explains how Michael Jordan’s leadership style ‘saved his life’

As Rashad tells it, Patrick Ewing and Charles Barkley were also involved, but were quickly dismissed for having never won a championship. That left Bird, Magic and MJ to discuss who the best player was. Jordan had won the last two NBA titles with the Bulls, and Magic had retired after the 1991 NBA Finals due to testing positive for HIV. That didn’t temper the debate though.

“Now Michael and Magic got into it,” Rashad said. “They were talking back and forth with each other and it was really funny. I was sitting up there with Larry Bird and we were just watching. Finally, Michael gets very upset and says, ‘Listen, I’m telling you, Larry, and I’m telling you, Magic, if you don’t quit, every time I see you next year, I am busting your ass. When I come to the arena, I’m busting your ass. So I’m warning you right now you better quit.’ So after time went by, Larry Bird finally just looks over at Magic and says, ‘Magic, you know you and I were then, and Michael Jordan is now.’”

Bird started as part of the debate, but he sure ended it for Jordan.

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Watch: New ‘Last Dance’ preview teases story of Michael Jordan’s ‘Shrug’ game

Watch: New ‘Last Dance’ preview teases story of Michael Jordan’s ‘Shrug’ game

In the first four episodes of “The Last Dance,” we watched Michael Jordan evolve from a young kid from Wilmington, North Carolina, to stand out scorer “Mike” Jordan at the University of North Carolina, to the Bulls’ savior — a dazzling performer turned NBA champion.

Now, it appears the “destroyer of worlds” phase is coming.

That much can be gleaned from the latest ESPN teaser trailer release for Episodes 5 and 6 of “The Last Dance,” which will air May 3. This anecdote hones in on the 1992 NBA Finals between the Bulls and Portland Trail Blazers. Both teams entered the series with premier wing scorers in Jordan and Clyde “The Glide” Drexler, who were often directly compared to each other.

Jordan didn’t take kindly to that.

 

“Clyde was a threat. I’m not saying he wasn’t a threat,” Jordan said in the trailer. “But me being compared to him, I took offense to that.”

Magic Johnson, then working for NBC and covering the ’92 Finals, offered a peek behind the curtain into just how vehement that offense was.

“The night before Game 1, we’re at Michael’s house playing cards, and he said, ‘You know what’s gonna happen tomorrow? I’m gonna give it to this dude,’” Johnson recounts in the trailer.

Give it to him, he did. Jordan scored 39 points in a 122-89 Bulls rout in Game 1 of the Finals, 35 of which came in the first half. Embedded in that first-half line were a then-Finals record (for a half) six 3-pointers. 

Jordan punctuated the last of those with a shrug that has since become an enduring, iconic image from his career. The backstory should be riveting.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Bulls easily on your device.