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SportsPulse: Michael Jordan’s former teammate BJ Armstrong believes ‘The Last Dance’ will have a lasting impact due its universal message.

USA TODAY

Michael Jordan had the stage to himself the last five weeks. Not unlike he did when he played. That must’ve felt … familiar to the legendary basketball player.  

Once again, all eyes were on him. 

Not that he’s ever far from view. What with his Jumpman image affixed to billions of dollars of shoes and athletic apparel. And with the highlights of his most indelible moments affixed to our mind’s eye. 

Chicago Bulls’ Michael Jordan looks to move around the Seattle SuperSonics’ Gary Payton during the third quarter of Game 3 in the NBA Finals, Sunday, June 9, 1996, in Seattle. (Photo: Beth A. Keiser, Associated Press)

For those mid-30s and older, Jordan never really went away. He is a fixture of late 20th Century American culture. Embedded in the consciousness.  

What he meant and, more important, what he represented, can’t be understated. “The Last Dance,” ESPN’s 10-part documentary about Jordan and his Chicago Bulls dynasty, just made that easier to explain to the younger set. 

My own sons — 22 and 21 — sat mesmerized by the footage and by the stories, as did an entire generation of basketball fans. Though they remain convinced that LeBron James is better. (More on that in a moment.) 

Before “The Last Dance,” trying to articulate what it was like to watch Jordan — especially in his younger years in the 1980s before social media, before widespread cable — was difficult. In a sense, you’re asking someone to envision a completely foreign world. 

Back in those days, when Jordan leapt onto the scene, I was living in Austin, Texas, and attending college. Without access to ESPN, I relied on local news for highlights, shown on a community television in the lounge of a dorm.  

The Texas Longhorns dominated the broadcasts. Followed by clips of the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Oilers and San Antonio Spurs. But that’s not why we started watching. 

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