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They Weren't Coming Back

You don't have to go home. But you can't stay here.

The Last Dance has been danced, and then some. And some prominent backlash began on Tuesday when Horace Grant lashed out at Michael Jordan for misrepresenting Grant's role in the making of Sam Smith's The Jordan Rules.

Hell hath no fury like a snitch scorned. And we still haven't heard from Mr. Scottie Pippen since the The Last Dance began airing last month. That interview should be a doozy.

The absolute end for me in episode 10 was when Phil Jackson told the camera that when Jerry Reinsdorf went around Jerry Krause and offered Jackson a contract for the 1998-99 season, the coach kept it simple. He said no. There were no conditions, no "well if this happens," or "if that happens." There was just "No."

In other words, this wasn't second-hand info from an owner who has been known, on occasion, to perhaps shade the truth, just a bit. It was the coach himself telling the camera he didn't want to come back for one more season.

As for Reinsdorf, one of his latest offenses against the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth was when he insinuated in episode eight that it was other owners who drove the idea of using replacement baseball players, i.e., scabs, in 1995 as an MLB strike dragged into a second year. Anyone who believes Reinsdorf didn't play a role in that strategy, well, I have some real estate for you. And I'm so sorry but the transaction will have to be site unseen of course.

If nothing else comes out of this mega-series, hopefully there is a little more understanding now that it wasn't just Krause (and by extension Reinsdorf) who broke up the team. Just like it isn't players alone who win championships. I'm not saying Krause wasn't a contemptible schlub sometimes, especially when he reacted to his final break-up with Jackson before the 1997-98 by making sure he was seen palling around with new love Tim Floyd.

To tell the truth, from my spot in the crowd, I remember not being terribly unhappy about the break-up. The most important thing other than Krause's pique and Jackson's reluctance was the reality that there was no freaking way Scottie Pippen was re-signing with the Bulls. And The Last Dance reinforces that assessment despite Jordan's belief that if everyone else was coming back, Scottie would have miraculously come around.

It is also impossible to believe the Bulls would have had Dennis Rodman back for another year. It was a miracle he made it through three seasons in Chicago without completely breaking - or melting - down.

Plus, you talk about an embarrassment of riches overall . . . In my first 25 years (from 1966 to 1990), Chicago teams won one championship. Then the Bulls alone won six in the next eight years. And they did so in remarkably entertaining fashion, featuring the best player of all-time not just providing MVP-caliber production but also high-flying highlights night after night.

And that player was committed to playing every game. He never used the pathetic "load management" excuse to take a break.

I will never include the Spurs' Gregg Popovich on any personal list of greatest basketball coaches of all-time because he is the one who brought "load management" into the NBA. His lasting legacy (OK, OK, there were also five championships) will be the idea that it is fine if superstar basketball players take games off even if they aren't injured.

I have pointed out before and I will point out again that no fan who actually pays for a ticket (as opposed to the corporate types for whom opportunities to attend sporting events are perks) is OK with their team not doing their best to win the game for which that ticket has been purchased.

The folks who are most OK with tanking? It never fails that they aren't the ones paying their own way. It is incredible that it doesn't occur to so many of the people who watch games without buying tickets (i.e., commentators and other non-paying attendees) that the experience for those who purchased a ticket is utterly different than theirs.

In a perfect sports world, teams would know they get one tanked season, maximum. In fact the best rebuild in the sports world in the last 10 years happened in the Bronx, where the Yankees stayed in contention for a wild card right up to the end of a 2016 season in which they traded a number of valuable players at the trade deadline. Sure enough in 2017, they were right back in contention.

And let me just make one final point: GET OFF MY LAWN!

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Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.

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