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The Last Dance + Bears draft grades

Now playing the role of Jerry Krause: Isiah Thomas!

Kevin Kaduk
Kevin Kaduk

Good morning, frents!

A few of you texted yesterday to suggest I devote today’s entire newsletter to the divorce of a certain ex-Bears quarterback and his reality star wife.

To which I say: Don’t caaaaare.

Let’s have ourselves a week, shall we?


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The Last Dance: The Worm, Phil and a grudge that’s going three decades strong

It’s hard to believe we’re already 40 percent of the way through The Last Dance.

Three thoughts:

1. There’s no way any of this could have happened today: Last week it was the UFC cage match between Jerry Krause and the rest of the Bulls. This week it was Dennis Rodman disappearing to Vegas for 48 hours and polishing off a beer in front of the media before hopping on a motorcycle and speeding away. Can you imagine any of this happening the age of social media and Skip Bayless? LeBron James and Kevin Durant are watching all of this somewhere and shaking their heads.

2. MJ’s legacy isn’t the only thing getting solidified: A big takeaway from last week’s episode was that it was the first time many younger basketball fans truly got to see Jordan’s greatness instead of the one-dimensional crying meme he’d become. Well, if that was true for Jordan ’s legacy … it also doesn’t bode well for Isiah Thomas and how a new generation of fans are introduced to him. It’s clear Jordan and the Bulls still harbor a lot of ill will toward The Bad Boys for walking off the floor without shaking hands and their reactions almost 30 years later were the most memorable part of Episode 4.

Don’t get me wrong. Most of  Thomas’ legacy was already written in permanent ink thanks to his relationship with his contemporaries and performance as an executive. But last night certainly didn’t help matters any. If Jerry Krause was the Carole Baskin of last weekend then Isiah was the Doc Antle of this one.

3. I can’t get enough of the old Chicago Stadium highlights. They tore that place down 25 years ago, but I can still close my eyes and remember everything about how it felt to watch a game there. I said this on Twitter, but there’s a solid chance that one day someone will give me a time machine and I’ll decide to go to a Bulls or Blackhawks game at the old Barn instead of checking out ancient Egypt or the Civil War.

Onto the awards for night two …

Star of the night (non-MJ division)

One of  Jordan’s long-time security guards got a lot of attention for his glorious permullet and more than a few people online wondered who he was.

The answer: John Michael Wozniak, a Chicago police officer and U.S. Army veteran from Oak Lawn, who unfortunately died at age 69 this past January. MJ’s manager Estee Portnoy tweeted on Sunday that Wozniak “would have loved this doc.

Wozniak guarded Jordan for many years from NBA Finals to family vacations. In his later years, he was in charge of security at Jordan’s still-unsold estate in Highland Park. He and a few other guards grew so close to Jordan that they eventually all got Jumpman tattoos.

You might also remember Wozniak from an iconic MJ Ferrari photo that took the Internet by storm a few years back. There’s more in this cool interview he did with Complex in 2016.

Top quote

There were a few competitors for this one from Doug  Collins’  “Get the ball to Michael. Everybody get the f— out of the way” to Gary  Payton’s brilliant description of Dennis Rodman. But the winner was our guy with the goggles, describing Isiah and Co. walking off the floor without shaking hands …

Best clip

Best old NBA player sighting (non-Jud Buechler division)

What’s it going to take to get a coffee table book of Phil pictures from the ‘70s?

This week’s bullying of  Scott Burrell

Three other things to read:

KC  Johnson and NBC Sports Chicago will start publishing excerpts from Jerry Krause’s unfinished and unpublished memoir starting today.

Jack Silverstein on Dennis Rodman being the proof that Krause and Phil  Jackson were a good duo.

Will Leitch on The Last Dance’s one big problem.


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How did the Bears draft grade out?

Slapping a draft grade on a class before the GM closes his laptop is among the silliest things the media does. But there’s a reason why they’re written: Instant draft grades are consistently among the highest-trafficked posts all year long. (As all of our old high school teachers said: When you point a finger, there’s three pointing back at you.)

The Bears’ collection of marks are neither high nor low. They were probably never going to reach ‘A’ level without a first or third, but the absence of Ds or Fs (which I saw being handed out to the Lions or Packers) reflectsthey didn’t make any noticeable screwups.

ESPN: C+

“This is another case of two decent players (Kmet and  Johnson) by value on my board, but little else after that.”  — Mel Kiper

NFL.com: B+

“Gipson is an underrated player who offered solid value in the fifth round.” — Chad Reuter

USA Today: B

“The guy Bears fans might want to get excited about in this class is fifth-round pass-rusher Trevis Gipson out of Tulsa. At 6-foot-3 and 261 pounds, Gipson isn’t developed in his technique, but his raw physical tools explode off the tape.” — Doug Farrar

Pro Football Focus: B+

“Darnell Mooney brings some speed to the slot for Chicago, having averaged over 15 yards per reception in each of the past three seasons for Tulane.” — PFF Staff

Sports Illustrated: B-

“Don’t be surprised if the Bears go with more three-tight end sets this season. Creative offensive architect Matt Nagy understands that those packages make a defense slower and more predictable, and with ex-Chief Demetrius  Harris already aboard, Kmet now gives this team three tight ends who can align almost anywhere as receivers.”  — Andy Benoit

Rotoworld: C+

“ Johnson is physical at the line of scrimmage and could be a CB1 if he stays healthy. This was the Bears best pick by far.”  — Hayden Winks


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 Paul Sullivan on the home movies that Eric Karros shot of the Cubs during the run to the 2003 NLCS. (Tribune)

Dan Wetzel on why the NFL draft should have been a model for the future (and why it probably won’t) (Yahoo Sports)

BUY: Last Dance tees from BreakingT

I enjoyed The Rewatchables episode on Ferris Bueller, even though I think they could’ve used someone more familiar with Chicago talking about it. (The Ringer)

That’s it for today. Have a great Monday and, as always, thank you for being a #frentofthenewsletter