The ESPN documentary on the Chicago Bulls side of the 1990s, ‘The Last Dance’, has mesmerized sports fans all over the world, even if they have never watched or played basketball. A large part of that has been down to Michael Jordan and the insight we’ve received into ‘His Airness’ and his competitiveness, dedication, and drive. Jordan is easily one of the most famous people, let alone sportsmen, on the planet, and he has had a huge impact on a generation of youngsters, sportsmen, or otherwise.
One of the biggest examples of Jordan’s influence on people transcending sports can be seen in Anthony Miller, the Chicago Bears wide receiver.
On paper, and on the field as well, there is not too much that is similar between American football and basketball. However, Miller, who was born in 1994 and was thus just three years old when Jordan played his last season with the Chicago Bulls, has learned a lot from the basketball icon. He has admitted to considering Jordan the greatest athlete of all time and has been watching ‘The Last Dance’ just like everybody else, trying to absorb everything about the great man and his ability to make the impossible look effortless and mundane.
Miller has said that he has learned a lot about mentality from Jordan, and is looking to emulate that side of him in his own game. However, the Bears’ receiver has not only been looking at Jordan while he recovers from shoulder surgery for the second year in a row. He has been looking at other NFL receivers, such as Stefon Diggs, Steve Smith, and Isaac Bruce, to see how he can improve himself and raise his game once his injury rehabilitation is complete. Miller’s left shoulder has been particularly troublesome, with the 25-year-old having suffered multiple dislocations to that shoulder in 2018 before having his first surgery, and then having to undergo another after a freak collision during a game against the Vikings.
However, while stepping up his physical recovery, Miller has also been working on the mental side of things, and that is where he credits ‘The Last Dance’ and specifically Jordan’s approach to games as having helped him immensely.
Of course, that is not all that this documentary reveals about one of the greatest players of all time.
‘The Last Dance’ brings Jordan’s penchant for betting and gambling to light, with a particular liking for real money casino games such as poker. Jordan’s love for gambling is a part of NBA folklore now, with the Bulls legend known to bet thousands of dollars on his golf games, for example, but while many have speculated that he had a genuine problem and an addiction to gambling, Jordan himself states in the documentary that his addiction was towards competition and winning, and it was that need to always be competing in some form or the other that drove him towards gambling.
His gambling exploits did land him in hot water quite a lot, with one trip to a casino in Atlantic City two days before a game in 1991 being particularly scrutinized, while he also had to testify in court over a $57,000 check which was found in the possession of James Bouler, a convicted cocaine dealer who was being investigated on money-laundering and drug charges. Jordan had stated in court that the money was towards paying off gambling debts he owed to Bouler, and there were many other similar instances throughout his career where he owed thousands, and some times even hundreds of thousands of dollars, to people in lieu of his gambling habits. However, as stated previously, it was Jordan’s need to win which was the primary factor here, and he has said that he was able to stop gambling at any time he wanted. Moreover, his performances on court showed that this never served as a distraction, and he has remained a role model and an icon for millions of people worldwide.