Top 10 Most Shocking Moments From The Last Dance

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
After watching this series, you realize they don't call Michael Jordan the G.O.A.T for nothing. For this list, we're looking at moments, incidents and stories recounted in this Netflix/ESPN docuseries that were surprising or just left us in awe.
Script written by Kamil Roy

Top 10 Most Shocking Moments from “The Last Dance”

After watching this series, you realize they don’t call Michael Jordan the G.O.A.T for nothing. Welcome to WatchMojo and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Most Shocking Moments from “The Last Dance.”

For this list, we’re looking at moments, incidents and stories recounted in this Netflix/ESPN docuseries that were surprising or just left us in awe. For those of you who haven’t watched the show yet, a SPOILER ALERT is now in effect.

#10: Jordan & Pippen’s Beef with Toni Kukoč

Episode V
It becomes clear pretty quickly in “The Last Dance” that Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen were always looking for an opportunity to stick it to Jerry Krause - and they found one during the 1992 Olympics. Ahead of a game between the Dream Team and Croatia, both players knew they’d be going up against Toni Kukoč; a player Krause was grooming to be the Bulls’ next superstar. Feeling slighted, both Pippen and Jordan tasked themselves with handling Kukoč. Not only did Team USA obliterate Croatia 103-70 in their first matchup - largely thanks to Jordan and Pippen - but both players specifically let Kukoč have it, limiting him to a mere four points and forcing him to turnover the ball seven times… All because their general manager liked him as a player. Poor Toni.

#9: Scottie Pippen Quits on the Team

Episode VII
During the final seconds in Game 3 of the 1994 Eastern Conference Semifinals against the New York Knicks, head coach Phil Jackson instructed rookie Toni Kukoč to score the game-winning shot. Furious that he was not chosen, Scottie Pippen decided to sit out. Although the Croatian Sensation did go on to score the buzzer beater, the team was affected by Pippen’s behavior. Center Bill Cartwright gave an emotional locker room speech, mostly directed at Pippen himself, where he expressed his frustration. Not only was this incident and the reaction to it proof of the Bulls’ closeness as a team; it also showcases how much they cared about integrity and the game of basketball itself.

#8: Openly Mocking Jerry Krause

Throughout the series, it is no secret that there was tension between Jerry Krause and his two stars, Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. For their own respective reasons, many of which they share, both Jordan and Pippen strongly disliked Krause. However, while conflict between management and players is common within the world of sports, what is perhaps most astonishing in this case is how both players mocked Krause directly to his face on several occasions - on camera, no less. From insults about his weight to taking potshots about his height, Krause was the target of many insults from both Jordan and Pippen. Whether you side with Krause - who wanted his share of the credit for the Bulls’ success - or the players who put in the work on the court to build his dynasty, it’s still shocking to see someone mocking their boss to his face, in public.

#7: Dennis Rodman’s Vegas Vacation

Episode IV
Need we say more? During the Bulls’ final championship season in 1997/98, head coach Phil Jackson allowed defensive star Dennis Rodman the opportunity to have a 48-hour vacation to Las Vegas to take a break and recharge. The party never seemed to end while he was in Vegas, as the Worm hit bars and clubs alongside his then-girlfriend Carmen Electra. When the 48 hours ended and it was clear Rodman wasn’t coming back to the team on his own, MJ actually had to find him and literally drag him out of bed - all while Electra was hiding behind Rodman’s couch. This tale is just another of the many incidents that illustrate Rodman’s… colorful personality.

#6: MJ’s Performance Against the Boston Celtics

Episode II
Since Jordan had missed the majority of the ‘85-’86 regular season with a foot injury, many didn’t know what to expect of him coming into the playoffs. After losing the first game of the series, Michael decided to let off some steam on the golf course with one of his competitors. After some trash talking with Celtics guard Danny Ainge, Jordan said that he had something in store for them in their next game. He was a man of his word, delivering an electrifying performance and scoring a playoff record high 63 points. Although the Celtics went on to sweep the Bulls, hall of famer Larry Bird remains astonished to this day about what he witnessed; an early glimpse of greatness.

#5: “If You Don’t Want to Play That Way, Don’t Play That Way.”

Episode VII
A prevalent topic in “The Last Dance” is Michael’s attitude and intensity - especially towards his teammates. His tenacity and passion for the game are obvious, but it’s easy to see his aggressive behavior and wonder if it was necessary. When asked about this during his interview segment, Jordan becomes surprisingly emotional. Acknowledging that he may have been hard on his teammates, Jordan goes on to state that it was all for the sake of winning. Jordan attempts to dispel the notion that he was a selfish player by revealing that he wanted to win for his teammates as much as himself. Ultimately, this gives us another glimpse of Jordan’s passion and drive to succeed.

#4: The Death of James Jordan Sr.

Episode VII
Arguably the most heartbreaking moment of the series is when the subjects discuss the passing of Michael Jordan’s father, James. Jordan had a special relationship with his father and credits his dad with giving him advice, a shoulder to lean on and for setting him in the right direction. It’s clear through the interviews that, once the man who motivated Jordan the most was killed, the passion MJ felt for the game of basketball suffered. The loss had an immediate impact on Jordan, and it’s hard not to empathize with the man after this loss.

#3: Michael Jordan Retires & Plays Baseball

Episode VII
Having lost the fire he once had for the game of basketball, Michael Jordan announced he was retiring from the NBA in 1993, a few months after his father’s murder. To say the announcement shocked the world is an understatement: when he made it official, media outlets large and small from all over gathered at the Bulls Training Facility to hear the most popular and arguably greatest athlete in the world announce his retirement. But what was perhaps even more shocking was what came next: shortly afterwards, Jordan announced his intention to play baseball. Seeing as it was the sport his father had envisioned him pursuing, the logic behind this decision is understandable. But Michael Jordan playing baseball? Even now it sounds strange.

#2: Father’s Day Championship

Episode VIII
After coming out of retirement in March 1995 and then losing to the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals, the hunger and competitive nature that had once made Michael Jordan so revered had returned. This became even more apparent during the 1996 NBA Finals against the Seattle SuperSonics: missing the presence of his father, who would attend many of his games during his career, Jordan seemed extra amped to put on a show and emerge victorious. However, while Jordan delivered a vintage playoff performance and helped the Bulls secure their fourth NBA championship, it wasn’t so much his play that made this win memorable, but the motivation behind it. This championship culminated on Father’s Day, and an emotional Jordan dedicated the win to his late dad. Not only was this a touching tribute; it also allowed fans to see a different side of MJ.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

The Nickname That Sums Up the Bulls When MJ Arrived
Episode I

Black Jesus
Episode IX

Trash Talking at Its Finest at Dream Team Practice
Episode V

Michael Jordan Punching Steve Kerr
Episode VIII

The Last Shot
Episode X

#1: All the Ways Michael Jordan Found to Motivate Himself

One of the many things that distinguished Michael Jordan from other basketball players was the ways in which he consistently motivated himself to play at the top of his game. Throughout his career, Jordan would look for anything that could be used as a fuel to push him to play harder. Whether it was Jerry Krause liking an opposing player or criticism from the media, His Airness always found a reason to play better - even if that meant inventing an incident that never happened. Listening to Jordan explain his drive and determination to win and be the best player on the court was not only entertaining, but also allowed viewers to understand his mentality and why there will never be another player like him again.