« The Last Dance » Review: Michael Jordan’s Greatness

Every once in a generation emerges a world class talent that will dominate his competition for years, however few are those who transcend their field to inspire people around the globe and become godlike figures.

The Last Dance, co-produced by Michael Jordan himself, not only aims to tell the story of a man turning into the best player of the generation, but into the best player of all time. What does it look like to win a championship in the toughest basketball competition, with among the biggest egos in sports and a media pressure levelling the Beatles and Michael Jackson, for the sixth time in eight years? This documentary dives us into the backstage of the last championship run of the 90’s Chicago Bulls and the background policy in a franchise surrounded by internal feuds and ego conflicts.

This is the occasion to revive some of the best battles Michael Jordan has faced in his career, against strongly loaded teams still recognized to this day such as Reggie Miller’s Indiana Pacers, the Malone and Stockton’s Utah Jazz or the ferocious New York Knicks of Patrick Ewing. The back and forth timeline brings us to the beginning and rising of every piece of the puzzle that is part of that journey to NBA’s top. Through the Bulls’ struggles with cocaine before Jordan’s arrival, to his biggest teammate Scottie Pippen’s family issues, Rodman’s craziest off-limits experiences and more, the documentary carries us to what will be defining moments of the greatest team of all time. This team is like none other, and will never be topped as 2020’s society couldn’t accept such a dysfunctional and yet strong organisation, but they give us glimpses of the madness that social medias will initiate decades later.

Of course, on-court stories are tremendously executed, but the show really elevate itself with insights. It is now possible to skim Jordan’s daily life, the global frenzy following him in every public appearance, like on the ‘’Nulle part ailleurs’’ TV show, his addiction to competition, and his appetite for these small little moments, in his hotel room for example, where he is no longer Air Jordan but just Mike.

We can now see these moments, 20 years later, however that’s not what MJ is about, MJ is about winning. Not just competing, not just giving it all, he is about winning and he is the best to have ever done it. He was unbeatable for a decade, like a deus-ex-machina letting youngsters play for every ball while he plays for the win. Rare are those who approached MJ’s athletics’ abilities and mix of speed, power, balance and (of course) above the sky vertical trigger, but almost none of them could pretend to have made more sacrifices and dedication to his sports. Even after being raised to a semi god status after the 1992 Olympic journey with the Dream Team in Barcelona, he continued to find ways to motivate himself like no other. Capable of making up full stories about opponents trash talking him, he would give everybody’s that daring to contest his supremacy a basketball lesson. His killer instinct may have gotten him too far on gambling, but hey he’s Jordan, he’s winning.

So why has he not won 15 championships though? Because there is no I in win in the NBA. After putting sweat blood and tears for many years without success, his biggest achievement was to understand how to win: by elevating everybody to his level of competitiveness. Being focused on only the ring (the Championship Medal) is the mentality brought by Coach Phil Jackson. He created a tribe, built around MJ, in which each member lived his life as he wished as long as he was dedicated to winning at all costs. Michael’s way to do it was to push hard on his teammates. Always on the edge, that could have destroyed a lot of locker rooms, like after a fist fight with his teammate Steve Kerr, but these Bulls were another kind of relentless people, driven by their guru master Jackson and their chief Jordan.

Even if the climax on the game winning shot to earn the 6th championship by MJ is a Hollywood class happy ending, it is an ending, and it was decided by the very same person that initiated the story: Jerry Krause. Introduced as the major antagonist to the Bulls dynasty, the General Manager (financial and sportive executive) had the same will to win as Jordan and created the best team of all time around him, drafting Pippen in 1987, rebuilding entirely the team that won the first 3 championships when Jordan retired for the first time in 1993, then bringing MJ’s nemesis Rodman to win 3 more championships from 1996 to 1998.  However, he indeed decided to put an end to it, through lack of consideration. That’s the kind of egos this team was made off.

Thanks to hundreds of speakers from inside (Pippen, Rodman…) and outside Bulls’ circle (Obama, Beckham, Clinton…), but also insights of cameras filming the last year of Michael Jordan at the Chicago Bulls, we’ve witnessed greatness and the cost that goes with it. The whole new generation is recognizing the super human mental and physical capacities of the greatest player in basketball history and his tribe. The public passion surrounding every episode of The Last Dance has now freed the way for generational talents to produce high quality documentary showing the up and downs of these fascinating people. And as always, that’s Michael Jordan who did it first.

Formula One: motor of innovation

While the question: “is F1 a sport?” has become an internet meme, many people are considering it as a polluting, expensive and unnecessary show. Even if the foreground of every grand prix is a gathering of wealth, exuberance and noisy cars; F1 has been, and still is, a major driving force of today and tomorrow’s society in terms of performance, protection, management and environment.

Since 1950 and the first Grand Prix in Silverstone, UK, the F1 industry has never stopped searching for ways to improve every detail of racing, whether it’s on the engine, the car or the personnel. Obviously many technical breakthroughs have emerged and worked their ways to regular cars. The shape of every vehicle is the result of aerodynamics studies that have shown that a flattened and well-curved car is less impacted from wind and air flow. The composition and structure of tires has now improved grip and drag, and mechanically speaking, engines have been miniaturized and optimized as well as today’s V6 (6 cylinders) are more powerful than mid-2000’s V12 engines.

BMW-Sauber car air flow. (2006)

Although these breakthrough aren’t off the charts as we’re talking about a motorsport based on performance, other fields have been impacted too. For example, the F1 industry studied the carbon fiber which is a very light and resistant materials with great properties under strain and high temperatures. In order to lighten formula one cars, this fiber has been transformed to carbon shell which is now used in every modern aerodynamic vehicle (bikes, motorcycles, planes, rockets and more). It was on a F1 circuit for the first time in 1981, and developed by Mclaren Racing. Carbon fiber’s resistance is also a huge benefit for people safety as it is now used for technical clothing or military equipment to absorb chocks without overweighting. To improve driver’s safety even more, today’s F1 cars have retention cables holding wheels to the shell and side impact bodies, technologies which will surely be added to regular autos in a near future, like it happened for the ABS (anti-lock braking system).

1981’s McLaren carbon shell.

Human management improvements are also a huge part of racing sport research. Through qualification sessions and race day, winning is a matter of milliseconds and all means are good to earn them.  2020’s Mercedes Racing Team is composed of more than 500 employees, with a hundred of engineers and technicians working every race day on the paddock around the 2 star drivers. Dealing with every personality and making the process work perfectly, everybody knowing their role, has become a master piece in F1. Big companies are inspired by biggest team directors that have lead their teams to long term winning culture, such as Jean Todt, Toto Wolf, Ron Dennis or Christian Horner; indeed its efficiency has become a world class model.

Red Bull’s managing team on the paddock. (2015)

Oddly, F1 is starting to put its print on hospital and surgical block management too. Mortality rate in British health institutes in the 90’s was the spark for huge society debates, increased in 1994 by a study showing a lack of coordination from the hospital staff. Dr Elliott and Goodman has required the Formula one team Scuderria Ferrarri to share the principles and accuracy of its pit-stop team. Pit stop is a major part of racing, whether it’s changing tires or removing broken parts of the car, many seconds can be lost in its process. To optimize its efficiency, every crew member has a strictly defined role, and knows every other member’s function, allowing him or her to improvise and react on purpose. The improvement of team member’s coordination, confidence and well-being has led to an all-time quick pit stop of 1.82s to change every tires of the RedBull car in 2019, which is the average reaction time of a human being. Helped by a choreographer, the Ferrarri pit stop crew has helped initiate a three steps process for hospital staffs to optimize their movements and reactions. The first step is to predict issues and to carry out standardized procedures as answers, then the crew has to master these procedures by periodic training, to end up with everybody knowing perfectly each coworker’s job and be able to be in charge. Hosiptals have also bought F1 teams data processors in order to fasten and sort out the patients monitoring easily.

Ferrarri pit-stop crew at work. (2019)

Formula one is now in the front row of ecological research in the automobile field. Many devices created for F1 are now common equipment for every day’s car. The thermal energy produced by the racing car is gathered and transformed in kinetic energy which is reinjected in the engine by a system called KERS (kinetic energy recovery system). It allows them to reach a 50% thermal efficiency, meaning that a F1 car recycles more energy than it loses, which is a huge improvement for a 1000 horsepower racing vehicle.  It’s not the only device reducing gas consumption created by F1 search and development teams, however their main resources are dedicated to hybrid and electrical engines. Inspired by KERS, a hybrid engine collects thermic energy then transfers it to an electric battery which is afterward used to run its electrical part. This system allows recent hybrid cars to lengthen their autonomy up to hundreds of kilometers using only their electrical component. The FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile, responsible for the evolution of F1 racing) is pushing towards the development of the newly born Formula E championship in which only fully electrical cars can compete.

Ahead of its time, F1’s research has improved performance, comfort and security of today’s cars, however this industry is now looking forward to create a less polluting way of travel. The whole automobile field benefits from the new policy of the FIA aiming to dominate motorsport racing with a non-polluting championship. The search and development budget of F1 teams  exceeds a billion dollars and will continue to grow. Formula E is meant to be the new Formula One and it’s the best thing that can happen to the car industry.

Le sport : de l’activité à l’apaisement, il n’y a qu’un pas

Prête ? HOP ! Je suis lancée dans l’arène.

L’arène ? C’est simplement ce qui nous entoure : des routes, des chemins, de l’eau, avec des arbres, des plantes, des immeubles ou d’autres personnes. C’est ce moment,  celui où tu te lances courageusement vers ton objectif. Cela peut être une distance, un temps, une compétition à préparer, un peu de chocolat à éliminer, ou tout simplement pour se faire plaisir.

Dans ce moment, on peut se retrouver parfois seul, ou parfois accompagné. Mais au final, toujours face à soi-même. Au début, nos problèmes arrivent dans notre tête, ils s’entremêlent. En plus de cela, viennent s’ajouter certains éléments qui mettent notre motivation au défi : les chocs contre le sol, l’environnement trop chaud en été ou trop froid en hiver, la douleur ou encore l’inconfort. C’est pourquoi, la tentation d’écourter ce moment est manifeste. Par chance, la volonté de continuer se fait ressentir

L’eau nous portant, et nous coupant du monde extérieur, la natation est un sport adapté à tous, et sans choc pour le corps – Photo de Julie Tournour 

Il y a ce cheminement, pas après pas, longueurs après longueurs, kilomètres après kilomètres, où chaque question tente de se remettre en place dans notre tête.  A ces instants, nous nous retrouvons face à l’environnement, et où chacun se créé une bulle. Elle nous promet à la fois force et sécurité, tout en ayant notre objectif en vue. Et, grâce à tout cela, nos pensées se libèrent.  En regardant cet objectif qui est au bout du parcours, on peut voir que nos problèmes quotidiens se retrouvent comme cachés derrière lui, effacés.  C’est grâce à lui que nous trouvons en nous la force, l’énergie et le mental pour arriver à notre but. Celui que nous attendons avec impatience, que nous recherchons avec détermination, celui qui est notre final. Celui dont on sera fier. Ce n’est pas celui qui sera uniquement affiché sur nos montres cardio ou sur notre application préférée. Il sera celui qui sera gravé en nous, mentalement et physiquement. Avec au bout, un bonheur d’avoir surmonté toutes les épreuves rencontrées le long de ce parcours menant à l’objectif.

La montée de La Bastille est un parcours de Trail incontournable. Un objectif accessible mais physique, dans un cadre naturel et avec un magnifique point de vue final.

Nous oublierons presque ces moments, où, sur notre chemin, nous avons pu découvrir de nouveaux endroits, de nouveaux végétaux ou animaux. Possiblement, avons-nous croisé d’autres personnes ayant le même objectif que nous. Mais surtout, où nous avons pu absorber le calme et l’apaisement, voire un air différent, peut-être plus vert, peut-être plus pur pour nous.

Qu’on soit à pied, en maillot de bain, ou à vélo pour ne citer qu’eux, le sport est indispensable pour notre physique, mais tout autant pour notre moral. Et, entre l’activité et l’apaisement, il n’y a qu’un pas.

Poly’Raid Handi-Valide 2019

Organisé par des étudiants de l’école, la 4e édition du Poly’Raid Handi-Valide a eu lieu le 28 mars 2019. L’objectif est de rassembler des personnes en situations de handicap et valides autour du sport : course d’orientation, course à pied, biathlon laser, run & bike, VTT et kayak !

Revivez cette journée riche en émotions en vidéo !