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This One Thing Made Michael Jordan The Greatest

Everyone has got it but only some people know how to use it.

Graffiti on a wall showing Michael Jordan in Chicago Bulls kit dunking a basketball

I just watched the Netflix series The Last Dance, and I was surprised to discover that it was actually quite brilliant, I was hooked from the start.

I wasn't a basketball fan at all beforehand, but I am now. I've even picked my own team to support from now on The Miami Heat (because it reminded me of Miami Vice), so it's serious.

I knew about Michael Jordan, Scotty Pippen and Denis Rodman because you couldn't move in the 1990's without hearing or seeing something about one of them, but I still didn't give basketball a great deal of attention.

I began watching the programme simply because it kept showing up on my home screen on Netflix and the trailer for it was so bloody well executed that, like a child drawn to an ice-cream van, I fell hopelessly for it's marketing charms and began to watch the first episode, and then I couldn't stop.

It's essentially the story of the Chicago Bulls basketball team from the mid-Eighties through to the late Nineties. It's called the Last Dance because in 1997, after winning two consecutive NBA finals, the owners of the team remarkably decided they were breaking the team up, and so it would be the last time that this incredible dream team and it's phenomenal coach would be together, hence 'Last Dance'.

The story behind the story is that it's also a documentary about Michael Jordan, undoubtedly the greatest basketball player of all time, and also about the mindset that made him so great.

It is this aspect that I found so fascinating. Jordan has superhuman inner strength and an unmatched desire to win, at all costs. The film doesn't always portray him as the hero though, and there are plenty of moments where you get to see how his will to win was often at the cost of his relationships with his fellow players and coaches.

But, there comes one defining moment in the last episode of the series, and this isn't really a spoiler at all as it's already sporting history. It's the very last seven seconds of the last match Jordan will ever play, and he has the ball in his hands, he's 20ft away from the hoop, the opposition on full defence against him, and he needs to score to win. His long illustrious career, the trials and tribulations of a challenging season, and the opportunity to bow out at the very top with an unprecedented sixth final win and a second run of three consecutive final victories lie right before him. The clock is ticking. Seven seconds, six seconds......

What happens next is unbelievable. Even to the basketball novice or sports heathen, watching Jordan weave and swerve, float and move, and then fling the basketball over the opposition and watching it drop right into the centre of the hoop, could give anyone goosebumps.

It's a script only Michael Jordan could write. And, that's the key point of the entire series.

When it comes down to it, experts, friends, colleagues and even critics deduced that despite ability, skill, training, will and determination - attributes that many other basketball players share in bucketloads, there was one key attribute that set Michael Jordan apart from everyone else.


He was more present than anybody else. He lived in the moment.

He didn't dwell on the past, or worry about the future. That made him fearless, it made him powerful. It gave him that extra energy edge that others didn't have because their minds were elsewhere.

Jordan himself says in the documentary, "Why should I worry about missing a shot that I haven't even taken yet?"

Failure wasn't an option to him, not only because his steely will and determination wouldn't entertain the concept, but because he was living in the now and failure could only exist in the future.

So, after ten thrilling episodes watching the ups and downs one of the greatest sporting careers to ever live, it came down to something as simple and yet as deeply spiritual as there possibly can be.

Being present, living in the now, is a superpower.

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