MJ, day 2
I have been somewhat harsh on "The Last Dance."
Maybe a bit overly in fact.
First, my hopes were through the roof for TLD. So that always makes it difficult. Think about the New Year's Eves of your young adult life. Going to be a big time. Almost always turned into a crowd too big, a tab too large or entirely too much time spent nurse-maiding that one person in your group who normally didn't go out and was three sheets by 10:15.
So maybe that's part of my somewhat disgruntled view of TLD.
Second, doing what I do for a living, the unbelievable access the crew has had to a litany of borderline ungettable interviews — three sit-downs with MJ, Barack Obama, Stern, Kobe, you name it — I think the questions not asked and the topics not covered have been fascinating.
To whit, the lack of pointing questions to MJ about the "competition problem" rather than a gambling problem. Also, would it have been so tough to get the bigwig from Gamblers Anonymous? Also, and maybe this will be broached in episodes 7 and 8 or after that, but by my count, the first Mrs. Jordan has been mentioned once.
That leads to the question we asked Monday about how much final say did MJ and his team have. It also led to an interesting discussion on Press Row on Monday, which included Wells asking this fair and interesting question.
If the Jordan camp said no without a final edit, would that be a deal-breaker or would you still go through with it?
It's fair, and difficult, because this will be the most successful ESPN documentary ever, and one of the most beloved because of MJ's status.
That said, the images on the court have been a pleasant reminder to all the stories I remember — the 1980s and 90s was my go-zone time as a sport fan gang, and the NBA was higher on my list in those days than the random NFL game — and even a few that I had either forgotten or never knew.
There are two other things about the on-court coverage and stories that became apparent this weekend.
First, the simply fact that all of those alpha dogs have been so quick to quickly say MJ is The Goat is surreal considering how competitive and prideful those alpha dogs are. Think about the quarterback GOAT conversations, and the posturing in those details.
In the NBA of the last 35 years, all the first ballot Hall of Famers say one name, and it's Jordan. (Side note: Always thought that Kareem has always been under appreciated in the GOAT discussion.)
The other TLD realization from the weekend, is while we can all giggle about MJ's confusion of a gambling problem, his level of competition and killer instinct is simply undeniable. And even as a LeBron guy, there is simply no debating that MJ accepted the competition challenge and prevailed more than any great player ever.
Now, we make too much a deal about MJ going 6-0 in the NBA Finals and LeBron going what, 3-6, because everyone would admit that getting bounced in the Finals should be viewed as a better accomplishment than getting bounced in the Conference semis.
But, whereas LeBron has had title dreams derailed by great Warriors teams and dynastic Spurs teams, MJ's victims in his 1990s championship killing spree is downright scary.
Where would those Warriors or Spurs teams that LeBron faced ranks among these teams that MJ beat at least once if not multiple times in his six championship seasons:
> The tail end of the Bad Boy Pistons;
> The Indiana Pacers with Reggie Miller, Ric Smits, Detlef Schermpf, and Mark Jackson;
> The physical Knicks bunch with Ewing and them boys;
> Portland with Clyde Drexler, Jerome Kirsey, Terry Porter and Kevin Ducksworth;
> The Lakers with Magic and Worthy and more;
> The Suns with Barkley, KJ, Thunder Dan;
> The Sonics with Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp;
> The Jazz with the Mailman and Stockton.
All told, there were 15 Hall of Famers that played in the 1990s that never won a title.
And all 15 know there's one man who stopped them.
I love the draft. You know this.
And in the complete vacuum of the sports world outside of NFL player moves, well, we're back to the NFL draft.Why? Because Mel Kiper just dropped his top 25 big board and positional rankings. Good times.
Here is the story, and it's behind the ESPN+ portal. So there's that.
As an ESPN+ subscriber, I have read Kiper's musing. (Yes, Kiper and McShay on the draft is the closest to the Paschall on college football and Weeds on college hoops when it comes to being a must-read and must link.)
Some of the takeaways:
> Trevor Lawrence is no-doubt No. 1 overall prospect. What does that mean if Miami or Coincy gets No. 1? Who knows since they just spent top-rive picks on a QB. But it's interesting for sure.
> There are other positions with generational talents too. Oregon tackle Penei Sewell is a monster — he was Pac-12 player of the year as a tackle — and LSU WR Ja'Marr Chase, as well as multiple star corners and WRs give this draft class a feel of the 2011 with a load of stars up top.
> Jaylen Waddle is listed as the No. 11 overall prospect on Kiper's big board. That is notable because until the Iron Bowl, Waddle was the No. 4 WR on the Alabama depth chart eight months ago.
> Trey Lance, the North Dakota State quarterback, is the third QB listed at No. 15 overall. Side note: Lance led the Bison to the FCS title last year, which is as common in a football season as turkey on Thanksgiving these days. On the way, he threw for 2,700-plus years, ran for 1,100-plus yards and threw the same number of interceptions as Spy. Yep, the 28-0 TD-to-Int ratio is pretty cool.
> Former UGA quarterback Justin Fields from THE Ohio State is third overall. Current UGA quarterback Jamie Newman is listed fourth among QBs.
> There are five Alabama players in Kiper's top 25. Wow, Saban collects talent like outdoor furniture gathers pollen.
Tuesday in the kitchen
OK, slower week than normal. Lots going on. Family out of town. So it goes.
To answer a True or False from last week, when JTC asked if the ravioli in our ravioli lasagna was homemade. The answer is both. We do not make homemade pasta, but we use Wonton casings.
(Quick ravioli recipe: Depending on what you want to stuff your ravioli with, there will be differences. We use a mix of ricotta cheese, shredded spinach and some mozzarella. That's because we use a good deal of sweet Italian sausage in our tomato sauce. If you use beef or sausage for the stuffing, precook the meat. Place the wontons on a greased cookie sheet, and put a tablespoon of your preferred stuffing on the wonton. Wet the edges of the wonton shell and top with another shell and press the edges with the a fork. Brush each ravioli with butter and bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees. If you are serving the ravioli with sauce, you may cook longer, just check until they are golden brown. If like me you are using them in something you are going to cook again, 10 minutes is good. Viola.)
So this weekend I made two batches of this because we had a neighbor recovering from back surgery and a good buddy who's momma is suffering from cancer.
The assembly is easy after the ravioli is assembled.
Make your marina sauce. I add at least a pound of Italian sausage.
In a 9x9 aluminum casserole dish — pro tip here: When making something for someone else, please remember the foil container; why? so folks are not required to hustle your dish back to you — go layer of sauce, layer of ravioli, layer of shredded mozzarella and parmesan cheese (mixed), layer of ravioli, layer of sauce and layer of shredded mozzarella and parmesan cheese (mixed).
You will need about 25-or-so raviolis for a 9x9 dish, more with a bigger dish.
I cook it covered for 30 minutes at 375, then take off the foil and cook another 15 minutes.
And don't forget the bread. Enjoy.
This and that
— Don Shula died Monday. He was 90. The numbers were striking in the aftermath of the announcement. The most wins (328 in the regular season; 347 in the playoffs), won two Super Bowls, coached 15 Hall of Famers and led the only undefeated Super Bowl champion ever. He only had two losing seasons in 33 years as a head coach.
— OK, ESPN started showing Korean Baseball Organization games. Like live actual games. So there's that. Couple of thoughts about this: One if you are betting on these games, well, you may need to ask around to see if you, like MJ, has a competition problem. Two, the art of the bat flip in Korean baseball is amazing and welcomed. Here's hoping that when the MLB returns they will be more open to things that so emotion and joy like the bat flip and similar celebrations. Because, hey, how much can we trust those unwritten rules that are likely turning a collective blind eye to the biggest on-field cheating scandal since Joe Jackson was not wearing shoes.
— While we are here, the highlights of the KBO — they played wicked early Tuesday — were a welcomed respite. It also was striking to see the stands empty and masks on the umpires and some of the players. But in the end, all of the changes and COVID-19 alternations were hardly noticeable to be honest. Next telecast is Wednesday morning at 5:30 a.m.
— Also of note, in an interview this morning on Get Up on ESPN one of the players in that game said players were told to wear batting gloves or not to high-five. Or to even low five with cleats. I thought that was interesting.
— We know there is a smattering of sports on the horizon other than the KBO. NASCAR is coming later this month. So are some golf exhibitions. MMA is coming later this week. Well tomorrow, there are reports that the Bundesliga will announce Wednesday their timetable for return.
— We mentioned Monday about the dirt Warren Buffett shoveled on the airlines. The numbers were sobering. Buffett earlier in the year had bought 10 percent of the four major U.S. airlines and his investment conglomerate sold all of at a sizable loss because of the impact of the Corona on air travel. After averaging more than 2.2 million passengers a day in January, the TSA reported scanning a grand total of 129,763 tickets on April 3. That's a drop of about 94 percent friends. And the trend is here locally, thanks to TFP BID-ness ace Mike Pare.
— OK, Tiger King fans, apparently they are making a movie about the Netflix phenomenon that took off early in our Corona Craze. Playing Joe Exotic will be none other than Nic Cage.
— Elon Musk took to Twitter on Monday to announce the birth of a son with "Mom & baby all good. The baby's name according to the billionaire's Twitter response is "X Æ A-12 Musk." So there's that.
— This story hurts my heart and makes me fearful for the days ahead, and I do not offer that lightly or with a hint of hyperbole. A Michigan woman, her husband and their son are charged with first-degree murder for shooting and killing a Family Dollar security guard who would not let their daughter into the store without a mask. Lord help us.
— Another day, another UT football commitment, this one an offensive lineman. Here's more from David Paschall, the TFP all-around wizard who is churning out sports stories the way the folks at Charmin are pitting out toilet paper these days. UT's run has been impressive, as has the decision to stagger these announcements, which gives them bigger play in this sports vacuum and a world of positive momentum during a dead period that has no announced end in sight.
— Speaking of Paschall's river of sports ink, here's No. 4 in the Alabama top-five series he's doing for the TFP. You know the drill: Paschall writes college football, we read and link Paschall on college football.
— Here's today's A2 column with some Mother's Day gift suggestions.
Tuesday. True or false. (That's a gimme.)
True or false, you'd take Trevor Lawrence over the field as the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL draft.
True or false, you will watch KBO baseball games on ESPN.
True or false, Don Shula is a better NFL coach than Bill Belichick.
True or false, LeBron is a top-five NBA player all-time.
True or false, we should keep doing the Tuesdays in the Kitchen segment of the 5-at-10, at least through the quarantine.
As for today, Cinco de Mayo, well, true or false, you like tequila.
You know the drill; answer some T or Fs, leave some T or Fs.
So May 5 is also 5/5.
Rushmore of 5. Go and be creative.