The past four Sunday nights have captured fans, friends and families as they have watched “The Last Dance.” The captivating climb to a three-peat NBA championship by the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls, led by the world’s greatest basketball player, Michael Jordan.
Leaving the hardcore language intact and the personal encounters unmasked, makes this documentary totally gripping even for non-fans. In fact, it blew the ratings right off the charts, which it would have done without a virus shutdown.
While MJ was the focus of the film, Jordan’s primary playing partners included, Scotty Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Toni Kukok, Luke Longly and Steve Kerr, current coach of three-time NBA Champions, the Golden State Warriors.
I was rather pleased to meet Michael Jordan shortly after that famous finale season on a golf course in Maui. We were playing in the “da game” at Kapalua, which had a reputation widely known to be the “friendly” betting game of the Island.
In the spirit and tradition of a friendly wager, I asked Michael if he wanted three fives. He flashed that famous smile and answered “Sure. You’re on!” I had to clarify it was $5.00 a side and not $500 since I knew he had been known to play for some big numbers. He just laughed.
My partner asked me if I was nuts playing the world’s greatest athlete. This only added to my anxiety which was already over the top. However, the nerves began to settle as I watched MJ tee off on the first hole and pump his first drive wide right out of bounds. “Hmmm, I thought, that’s good for me. My loss might not be too bad to this guy.” My confidence moved up another notch as he pumped his second ball right on top of the first.
In short, we all had a beer after the round, and everyone settled-up. I was lucky by having a good day and winning all three ways. I asked Michael if he would do me a favor and write on my scorecard “I paid Miles Barber $15.00” which he did and signed it. We all laughed as we left. He was still smiling.
A year or two later, a couple buddies called and asked if I would be interested in traveling to Pinehurst, North Carolina and playing golf on some of the great courses there. That suggestion did not take a second thought, and a few weeks later, we were off.
One companion was Brick McIntosh, who was interested in checking out property while he was there. One of these properties was a premier golf development named Forrest Creek, which was receiving many accolades and attracting prominent personalities. Brick handled arrangements which included playing with the resident golf pro. He also agreed to join us for our complimentary round of golf.
We were hitting balls on the driving range with the pro when he spotted a caravan of three black limo’s arriving. “Hey”, he said. “My apologies and I have to go. That’s Michael Jordan and we have a standing rule that I play with him when he’s here.”
Off they went and we followed in the group behind them, stopping at the clubhouse for lunch after nine holes. Sitting across the room was MJ, the Pro and MJ’s friends. My buddies were captivated, making remarks which they could tell their wives and kids. I calmly said, “Watch this.”
I got up from our table, walked across the room and stood in front of Michael Jordan. He glanced up, did a double-take and said “Kapalua! I know you.”
He still had the laugh and the great smile, and I still had his $15.00.