NESN Diary: Appreciating ‘The Last Dance,’ (And Other Random Thoughts)


Each day during the sports pause stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, will publish a diary full of random thoughts, opinions, takeaways, and other cool tidbits we?ve stumbled across in the absence of actual games. Because why not? We?re all in this together.

For five straight Sunday nights, sports fans (and basketball fans, in particular) were treated to “The Last Dance.”

And for those five straight Sundays, things seemed normal for the first time since March when the sports world abruptly stopped due to the coronavirus pandemic.

There were so many reasons I loved having something sports-related to watch every week. Aside from the amazing memes, gifs and Twitter accounts (lookin’ at you, @JordanJamming), I was able to truly appreciate Michael Jordan and just how polarizing he really was.

I wasn’t alive when Jordan broke into the league, just three years old at the end of the Bulls’ first three-peat and only eight when Chicago won its sixth championship. I also, admittedly, did not watch a whole lot of basketball growing up because I grew up in a baseball and hockey household. And even though my mom was a big Boston Celtics fan during the Larry Bird days, it always was the Red Sox or Bruins we tuned in to watch.

Obviously, I knew who Jordan was, but I didn’t really understand the impact he had on the Bulls or the city of Chicago, or the NBA in general. I really was more focused on how Mo Vaughn did in the Red Sox game.

But I get it. He was a generational-talent. If I could turn back time and watch more basketball as a kid, I would. But now at 30, it was so much fun to take in that documentary and re-live a monumental time in sports history, in a way for me, for the first time.

But what’s more than the memes, the gifs and taking in those years over the last five weeks, is the sense of normalcy it brought to sports fans.

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I fired up Twitter and loved seeing so many people talking about it, tweeting to followers, having conversations with friends about it the next day.

For five weeks, from 9 p.m. ET until 11 p.m., it didn’t seem as if the world was at a pause. It all seemed right for that period of time.

And even though “The Last Dance” is over, we still have the “30 for 30” on Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa for the 1998 home run record. As a die-hard baseball fan and remembering yelling to my brother from the back door that McGwire had hit his 67th home run, I’m pretty pumped.

Let’s take a look at what else happened in the sports world Thursday:

— Staying with the documentary theme, Tom Brady will be getting one of his own.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback announced ESPN will air “Man In The Arena” in 2021. It will be a nine-part series documenting his journey to the NFL and his 20 years of success with the New England Patriots.

— OK, enough Brady talk. We may have some real traction as to when the NBA will return.

The league reportedly is eyeing a mid-July return and Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie only fueled that fire more when he quote-tweeted John Geiger’s “June 21 NBA Back” tweet saying that’s when practice will start, with games starting July 15.

Summer may be saved after all.

— Now to the NHL.

A 24-team playoff format reportedly has been proposed, and according to The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun, it won’t jump directly into the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The voting for the plan reportedly “is likely to be completed” by Friday, with a few cities being considered for the return.

So, you’re telling me we potentially could have two sports back this summer? Count me in.

— Josh Gordon reportedly will apply for reinstatement soon.

Mental health and addiction problems have haunted the wide receiver throughout his career. But one thing is certain: he’s always fought hard to better himself.

Some addicts, unfortunately, relapse several times before finding what works best for them. Gordon only is 29 and he’s clearly been trying. I really hope he finds a lifestyle that works for him to stay sober and on the right path in his journey.

— Robert Kraft’s Super Bowl LI ring was auctioned for a lot of money.

And I want to emphasize “a lot.”

The New England Patriots owner donated his ring to the “ALL-IN Challenge” to benefit COVID-19 relief. And one lucky (and rich) winner now owns a piece of history for the bargain price of $1,025,000.

Hey, at least that’s a hefty donation to a charity that deserves it.

Tweet Of The Day
Kemba Walker, what a guy.

Video Of The Day
#TBT to: “He struck him out! Clay Buchholz has thrown a no-hitter in Boston tonight and it sends Fenway into a Frenzy!”

Stat Of The Day
Those pesky NC Dinos.

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Thumbnail photo via Bob Donnan/USA TODAY Sports Images

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