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Kevin Harvick celebrates after winning the NASCAR Cup Series auto race Sunday, May 17, 2020, in Darlington, S.C. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Weekend winners/losers

NASCAR. Huge winner, and I watched way more of the NASCAR than I planned and would have watched more if not for being at the lake and spending most of the afternoon either in the water or with a hook in the water. Great job, and the winner was perfect and the amount of uncertainty and cars banging was great theater.

The TaylorMade Driving Relief golf match between Rory and DJ against Rickie and some guy who may have been bagging groceries at the Juno Beach Publix. Yes, match-play golf can be tough to keep engaging because of all the walking, but having live golf back was good and enjoyable. It raised $5.5 million for charities and relief of The Corona too.

Houston Astros. Not only have the Houston Cheaters been largely forgotten in this Corona craze, but now MLB is proposing heavy penalties for fighting. Hmmmmmmmm.

Trump and his political advisors. Buckets of head-scratching head overlaps. I have long questioned the social media strategery of the Tweeter and Chief, and still contend that his popularity would grow if he put down the social media. But this takes a new step. Not only is the release and Retweeting of Trump's face on Bill Pullman's character in the movie Independence Day is worse than bad Tweets. Egad.

Ben Sasse. Speaking of social media toe-stubbing, the Congressman from Nebraska offered arguably the worst graduation speech on Facebook in recent memory. We'll say it again, egad. (And this is not about the lesson of this thing to the folks finishing their schooling, in my opinion. In fact, I am writing my A2 column on that very thing, and the ever-valuable life-lesson of "nothing in this world is guaranteed." This is Sasse trying to be sassy and funny and it was dreadfully tone deaf and worse, not funny. At all.)

The Chattanooga dude who put the noose around Obama on social media. Dang, man. Unacceptable.

The families and fans of Fred Willard and Phyllis George. The former was a forever TV/movie funny man who played the straight guy and the goof to the hilt for decades. The latter was one of the pioneers of women in sports and was way better at her job on the studio set of the NFL on CBS than most give her credit.

Me. I'm a big loser professionally this weekend, because I did not tip the visor Saturday in my A2 column in honor of military appreciation day over the weekend. That's on me and I need to be better at this.

 

The last (thousand-plus) words of The Last Dance

I watched the whole series. In real time, making it the only thing not named Game of Thrones that is not live sports that I have watched without DVR in roughly a decade.

That's a powerful statement — about our time, our entertainment hunger, our need for sports-related content and community and the power of the subject matter.

So, The Last Dance (TLD) thoughts? Final grade, biggest takeaway, biggest question left unanswered? What's your viewpoint in a word.

I'll start: C and maybe a C+ (and that's because of a strong finish) as the final grade. MJ and his people's level  of control on the entire project was my biggest takeaway. The biggest unaddressed topic was MJ's marriage and his family and the missed chance of showing the toll that MJ's never-stopping, never-even-slowing-for-a-second pursuit of victory — which was celebrated throughout, even as a reason and a justification for his clearly bullying of teammates and others — took on him as a husband and father.

To that end, the fact that MJ's three kids from his first marriage were interviewed exactly once and that was to discuss how their momma did not want them to go to the series in Utah because it was too hostile was shocking. If that's the only thing you're going to get from MJ's three kids, then don't even interview them.    

In the end, my final word on TLD is disappointing. Maybe that's because my expectations were through the roof, both for the 30-for-30 in general and this one in particulate. Maybe that's because I thought, "If this thing truly needs 10 course, then it has to go into places with depth — like family, infidelity, real conversations about his gambling that reach beyond MJ saying he's a competition addict — that will be fascinating.

I truly did not expect the biggest reveal of 10 hours over five Sundays to be that the Flu Game was actually the Tainted Pizza Food Poisoning Game from some chain in Utah. (Side note: The way MJ was maniacal in creating enemies and mind-created challenges and windmills, don't you think the pizza parlor poison pepperonis would have been something he held against the Jazz for ever?)

So that's my take. What's yours?

 

TLD questions and thoughts

As for some specifics from last night, well, we took notes, in order, from parts .

> Reggie Miller was great, and the sentence "You never trash talk Black Jesus," may have been the single best sentence of TLD.

> Without getting too deep into the rabbit hole of comparison score keeping, but in that opening scene of Episode 9, when MJ lost it in the Pacers series now ask yourself, "What if LeBron had acted like that big of a punk and hit someone in the head with the ball on slight foul like MJ did with Mark Jackson?"

> Arguably the best compliment to MJ's greatness in 1998 is that the Pacers > Bulls in 1998, and it was not close. Look at the rosters: Pacers brought Reggie, Chris Mullen, Rik Smits, Mark Jackson, Travis Best, Antonio Davis, Dale Davis, Derrick McKey and Jalen Rose; Bulls brought Pippen, Kukoc, Rodman and a collection of role players. But the Bulls had MJ.

> This quote may be the theme arc of TLD: "It became personal with me" MJ said. Uh, everything became personal with MJ, no?

> Scottie Pippen, be it injuries or inconsistencies, sure had some gag-tastic moments in TLD.

> Great stat, part I from ESPN stats and info: "The 1998 Bulls-Pacers series had plenty of back-and-forth throughout. Overall, the series featured 61 lead changes, the most of any series during the 1998 postseason."

> Is the 'food poisoning game the best kept secret in the history of sports?

> Best question of the series was to Steve Kerr about discussing their fathers. But we spent 90 percent of this series on Jordan, but there was 10 times more time on Malcolm Kerr than James Jordan. Hmmmmm.

> Gus, the security guy, was the most important person in MJ's personal life. I wish there was more of that humanization of MJ in this. Truly I do.

> Michael Jordan averaged 33.7 points in Game 7s. That is the second-most all-time among players to play in at least 3 Game 7s. (LeBron James is the only player to have averaged more.)

> Did anyone else think the absence of a Karl Malone interview was quite telling?

> MJ personified cool in almost every regard, but his sunglasses game was not great.

> Andrea Kramer saying MJ would have been more famous with social media is the single-most disingenuous and dead-wrong point in the entirety of TLD.

> This side of MJ failed family guy, did anyone get a bigger pass than Jerry Reinsdorf? He was the owner after all, he could have made this happen, right? He was the one writing the checks, write?

> Speaking of keeping the 1998 team together, when MJ was asked about Reinsdorf and that possibility, it was in mind, the best question and interview with MJ. Sadly it came at 10:57 with 3 minutes left in 10 hours.

> MJ has $2.1 billion he made $90 million in his career playing hoops and makes more than $90 million per year from Nike. Has he spent more than 5 million in his life on cigars? I bet at least, right?

> In the post-TLD interviews, SVP had Dianna Taurasi on and she succinctly summed up the topic that MJ and the directors wanted to ignore in TLD. Taurasi said, "If you want to be that great you have to be willing to give up your life. I missed senior prom, so what"

> In today's social culture, all the conversation of MJ's form of tough love in the locker room made me wonder this: Would that be viewed or even accurately portrayed as bullying or tough love.

> SVP also had director Jason Hehir on after the show and led him to some of the complaints folks like me have had about TLD. His response was direct and indignant: "Show me the aspect of this documentary where we had to soften it," Hehir told SVP last night. "Show me the aspect that we should have gone into in a doc about the Bulls" and basketball and their greatness in 1998.

Of course 'being about basketball' is picking and choosing right? For example, Steve Kerr's dad — which was great film-making and story-telling — was about the Bulls and basketball how? There were way more examples like that, including Rodman and Carmen Electra and many more.  

I think Jordan's folks crafted the message on gambling and certainly about "nothing with the kids" absence or even his his first wife got half-a-billion in a very quiet divorce settlement.

"Did they ever push back on us," Hehir asked SVP, repeating the SportsCenter host's question late Sunday night that blended into this morning "Not once."

If that's the truth, then a C may be too high in retrospect of a story with several gaping holes.

 

This and that

— Mark Cuban's idea on stimulus gifts from the government may be the most balanced and best I've read. Cuban's idea is to give the 128 million U.S. households $1,000 every two weeks with the caveat that the money has to be spent on goods or services in 10 days. That way the money goes back into the economy. Also, government-created jobs — logistics and tracking and several other areas — make a lot of sense too. (Side note: The latter is not unlike FDR and The New Deal, even if the biggest thing that pulled us out of the Great Depression was WWII.)

— You know the rules: TFP college football guru David Paschall writes about college football, we read and link what Paschall thinks on college football. Here, he starts the UT top-five-players list with kind of a surprise choice. Thoughts?

— You know the rules: Here's Paschall on Tennessee's current recruiting class and what's next. Yep, you know the rules.

— You know the rules: When TFP sports editor and all-around prep sports guru Stephen Hargis writes about area high school athletes and issues, we read and link Hargis on prep sports. Here, he details the uncertainties facing prep football coaches looking into the Corona abyss. And here is Hargis announcing the TFP's plans on highlighting some of the spring sports stars in what would be a very busy Spring Fling time if this had been any other year.      

— Uh, duh? Here's the AP story on how small college football programs will lose millions without money games. We knew it, but that puts numbers to it. Yikes.

— Sign of the times: During one of Mike Greenberg's monologue's on "Get Up" on Monday — in between fawning and unabashed praise of TLD — he said this phrase with the "Baseball Tonight" music blaring in the background: "We'll have more Korean baseball for you tomorrow at 5:20 a.m."

— Wow, we have a slew of theories and things to get to about the NFL proposal about possible draft pick incentives for hiring and retaining minority coaches. Wow. Tomorrow? Deal? Deal.

 

Today's questions

Weekend winners and losers. Go.

Any and all thoughts on TLD welcomed, with a lot of direct questions above.

As for today, May 18, let's review.
Tina Fey is 50 today. Reggie Jackson is 74.

Graumna's Chinese Theater opened on this day in 1927. Anyone else surprised that the term Chines Theater is not deemed racist these days? Discuss.

The Academy Award was called 'Oscar' for the first time on this day in 1934.
Rushmore of Oscar. Go.

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