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FILE - In this June 16, 1998, file photo, NBA Champions, from left: Ron Harper, Dennis Rodman, Scottie Pippen, Michael Jordan and coach Phil Jackson are joined on stage by Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, second from right, during a city-wide rally in Chicago to celebrate the Chicago Bulls 6th NBA championship. Jordan described his final NBA championship season with the Chicago Bulls as a "trying year." "We were all trying to enjoy that year knowing it was coming to an end," Jordan told Good Morning America on Thursday, April 16, 2020. (AP Photo/Beth A. Keiser, File)

Weekend winners

Jeremy Pruitt. Dude is KER-ruisin' right now on the recruiting trail right. The Tennessee football coach landed two more top-flight recruits over the weekend, pushing the Vols' 2021 class into the top-three nationally and atop the SEC rankings. Cody Brown, a four-star, 225-pound RB from Parkview High outside of Atlanta, was the biggest named over the weekend. He's one of 10 — yes 10 — verbal commitments Pruitt and Co. have landed since The Corona shut down everything other than the Big Orange Recruitin' Wagon. Here's more from TFP college football guru David Paschall.

Secretariat. Wow, that horse was a monster then, and is a virtual monster now. On the day the Derby was supposed to run, Secretariat cruised in the Derby's virtual race, as it should be. Anyone else puzzled by how real that looked?

Law & Order. I have mentioned here before that the fall back entertainment viewing at the 5-at-10 compound for me has been reruns of McCoy and the gang fighting crime in NYC. The early ones are better — quite possibly because I don't recall them as easily — but the general excellence is true. And one of the sneaky underrated parts of Law & Order — and I'm not sure if you can duplicate this in this day and age of TV drama — is its self-contained status. Whether you are watching episode 24 or episode 240, previous knowledge is almost never required. Granted, the creators frequently use the same actors for myriad supporting roles, but the theory remains.

 

Weekend losers

USWNT efforts for equal pay. The court ruled against them late Friday in their lawsuit asking for equal pay. They vow to keep fighting in court. As a lot of us have written before, the main culprit in the pay disparity is FIFA, the international soccer governing body, rather than the U.S. soccer people. In the U.S. the women's soccer program is way, Way, WAY more successful and popular — and profitable in the states — than its men's counterpart. But globally? That's like saying the WNBA players deserve the same pay as the NBA players.

The top part of the 2017 NFL draft. Wow, other than top-pick Myles Garrett, the rest of the top-five has been informed that their fifth-year options would not be picked up. Wow.

Almost everything coming from Asian these days this side of egg rolls. Started with The Corona. Now, we're dealing with 'Murder Hornets' because, well, it's 2020. Yes, Murder Hornets, which kill about 50 people a year in Asia, have landed in the U.S. Anyone else think "Murder Hornets" should be a made-for-Lifetime movie with Jason Priestley as the inspect expert trying to fight the invasion?  

 

Last Dance

OK, where do we begin with chapters 5 and 6 of "The Last Dance" this morning?

First, Sunday night's two chapters were the best of the series so far. Here are five extended thoughts, and one very large question looming on the horizon.

> The Kobe images were haunting considering his death earlier this year. It also was downright impressive. The behind-the-scenes footage and interviews from that 1998 All-Star game was amazing. It also is downright crazy how talent can see talent.  
 

> The 'gambling' topic was covered Sunday night. Jordan billed it as he was addicted to competition. As someone who has a) done a whole of betting in previous chapters of my life and b) gets a little too upset when I lose, be it darts, ping-pong or just about anything, there's truth to that. And we'll get to more of that in a moment. But in some ways, the glossing of MJ's gambling addiction — he was right, he didn't break laws and he certainly had the money to lose — is part of the growing criticism of how the producers have given MJ too much influence on the finished product. Showing card games and pitching pennies with the security details is campy. Why not talk to the golfing folks who took Jordan for millions? David Stern's casual dismissal of the NBA looking into MJ's gambling was hollow and, not to be a conspiracy theorist, the NBA needed post 1992 MJ more than MJ needed the NBA.


> As for the competitive gene, well, Holy Buckets of Vitriol, MJ simply is the most competitive dude I've ever seen. And it's really not that close. Big picture: I've always had this theory that if your best player is your hardest worked — i.e. Tebow at UF, and MJ in the 1990s — you can accomplish truly special things. This is a masters class in that. Still, MJ's competitiveness gets the kid-glove treatment too. This from Jackie MacMullan, the longtime NBA writer for the Boston Globe and ESPN.com: "Danny Ainge played for the Portland Trail Blazers in the 1992 NBA Finals and was really concerned because people were saying Clyde Drexler might actually be on par with Jordan. "I knew we were in trouble because Clyde was getting all this hype, and Michael was being very deferential, saying all the right things,'' Ainge told me. "I knew he wouldn't stop until he made it clear that no one -- not Clyde or anyone else -- was on his level.'' Jordan outscored Drexler 39-16 in Game 1 and never looked back. Weeks later, he and Drexler were Olympic teammates, and Jordan rode Drexler so hard that some of the players finally asked him to back off." But "TLD" only showed Magic being chatty about Jordan calling his shot before Game 1 of that series and the shoulder shrugs.

> MJ is the most charismatic superstar of all time. Granted you have to have superstar skills before we even notice the charisma, but it's astonishing to watch how he mingled in circles and out and did almost everything right in front of the cameras. Was it fake? That's a unfair accusation too, because if it's truly a facade, MJ then would be the best actor of all-time too. (And I've seen Space Jam, so we know that's not the truth.)

> The voices of the activists, including Dr. Todd Boyd — the black guy with the funky glasses who is a well-renowned protestor and civil rights activist — that called MJ to the carpet for his "Republicans buy sneakers too" comment and MJ's lack of notable or public stances on society issues was very interesting. It is not a new claim — who has not heard that quip about conservatives buying Nikes? — but it's even more intriguing in this day and age. I wish the filmmakers had spent more time juxtaposing MJ's stance against the public claims of "Shut up and dribble" made against today's superstar athletes. I would have loved an extra 15 minutes on that rather than the time spent on the ticket demand for the Bulls at the end because of MJ's uncertain basketball future. (Side note: When Nathan McCall said "Everyone in the world respects Ali because he stood for something" as an insult to MJ, well, that's just not true. I know a lot of people who had a lot of feelings about Ali, and respect was not on the list.)

> As for the big-picture question, and feel free to weigh in if you have watched along: Have you seen anything in this series that has made you think less of MJ? In that regard, was MJ's press tour quote about people thinking less of him planned? Along those lines, do you think MJ had final say in the editing process?        

 

This and that

— You know the rules, Paschall writes college football, we read and link Paschall on college football. In this day and age of list-making in the vacuum of real sports, who better than Paschall to rank the top-five college football players at Alabama. It starts with Barrett Jones today. He'll do top-five lists for Georgia and Tennessee in the coming weeks.

— Man, speaking of lists, here's Chuck Barkley ranking all-time NBA players. Of course, the headline is about LeBron not being in his top five, but I think Chuck's point is after MJ, there's a collection of all-time greats fighting for second. As for Chuck's assertion that LeBron could not hack it against the Bad Boy Pistons, well, if he doesn't think LeBron is mentally tough enough, well, OK. That Detroit team forged MJ into the stone-cold killer that MJ became. But physically? Stop. LeBron was Mahorn's size with MJ's athletic skills. LeBron weighs more than Laimbeer friends.

—  Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler playing with persimmon woods and balata balls was pretty cool.

— Andy Dalton signed with the Dallas Cowboys. Insurance or do you think the Cowboys are placing a bridge to break up with Dak Prescott?

 

Today's question

Weekend winners and losers. Go. And pretend there was some kind of sports this weekend.

Side question from above: Who plays Jason Priestley's fiancé in "Murder Hornets" who clearly is caught in a Washington house as the swarm of murder hornets barrels toward her location. I'm starting with Candace Cameron from "Full House." Who you got? Heck, let's cast the entire movie, shall we?

Crazy scientist who had been talking about this for a decade that everyone ignored because he's been drinking dark liquor since 1983?

Whatcha got?

As for today, it's Star Wars day — May the 4th be with you.

Rushmore of Star Wars characters not named Skywalker, related to a Skywalker or married to a Skywalker? Go.

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