If there was ever any doubt that Michael Jordan is shaping “The Last Dance” to fit his own narrative, it was on display Sunday night.
The documentary went into full detail about Scottie Pippen’s refusal to take the court for a final shot in Game 3 of a 1994 playoff series against the New York Knicks. Pippen was miffed that Toni Kukoc was designed to take the last shot.
It was a terrible mistake by Pippen that marred his career and Jordan made sure to get all of that in the story. But what he didn’t bother to spend any time on was what happened in Game 5 of that same series.
And I didn’t think it was possible to talk about that series without focusing on the foul Hue Hollins called on Pippen as he defended Hubert Davis’ last-shot attempt.
Pippen made contact with Davis, but it was after the shot was out of Davis’ hands -- which, in those days, was never called a foul. These days, it is… but it was considered a horrible, series-deciding call at the time.
And a year later, Darell Garretson, who was officiating on the floor that night with Hollins, had become the league’s director of officiating. And in a rare moment of candor, he did not mince words about what happened:
"All I can say is that it was a terrible call," said Garretson, who retired from active duty at the end of last season. "Any time an official calls a game, he hopes he doesn't make any, but that wasn't the only one."
You can argue the merits of the call all you want, but that play was the turning point of the series and if you’re telling the story of the Bulls without Michael Jordan, that would have been a must. The Bulls fell behind 3-2 in that series and won Game 6, but couldn’t pull out Game 7.
So why didn’t Jordan, who has complete control of the product, insert something about that in the documentary? Well, it might help you understand if you read what Jerry Reinsdorf told The New York Times years later.
“If we had won that game and then the series and gone on to win the title that year, the whole legacy of Michael would have been different,” said Jerry Reinsdorf, the Bulls’ owner, who recently hired Pippen as an organizational ambassador. “But because Michael had left and came back and then we won again, he was given all the credit, and sometimes it was unfair, especially to Scottie.”