On Sunday ESPN will debut their highly anticipated docu-series on Michael Jordan and the 1998 National Championship won by the Chicago Bulls titled “The Last Dance.”
“I’m really excited to see a lot of games and faces that I haven’t seen in awhile,” says former Razorback and 15 year NBA Veteran Joe Kleine.
Kleine played in the NBA from 1985-2000, and in 1998, the Chicago Bulls were his 6th NBA team.
“We had Micheal Jordan. That always helps. Having Scottie Pippen wasn’t too bad either,” laughs Kleine.
That 1998 season was the first time Jordan and Kleine were playing with each other in The Association, but it wasn’t the first time the two were teammates.
“He set the tone,” says Kleine, “Every day he set the tone, He was almost always the first guy there, putting in extra time shooting and lifting. I was fortunate that in 1984, I was on the Olympic basketball team with him in LA, so I knew Michael before he became ‘Michael Jordan.'”
Unlike Kleine, who was a veteran in the league when he won a championship with the Bulls in 1998, Current Arkansas Men’s Basketball assistant coach Corey Williams was a rookie in 1993.
“It was like a dream comes true. You would dream about having an opportunity to play with him at some point or against him. When I got drafted, it was like a kid in the candy store,” remembers Williams.
Williams says Jordan was competitive on and off the court, but also treated him like a little brother.
“If it’s marbles, I’m a better marble player than you. If it was pool, he felt like he was a better pool player than you were,” says Williams.
“For me as a rookie, he ordered all my stuff. I wore Air Jordans. I wore the Air Jordan warm ups, and I used to get ragged on by the other players saying ‘oh look at you. You’re like Michael Jordan’s son.’ I was like ‘you say whatever you say, but I am getting free Air Jordan stuff so it doesn’t matter,” Williams shared with a smile.
The 1993 season ended with the Bulls 3rd straight title, and, as was promised, a championship ring for Williams.
“Before the season, he said ‘Peewee I’m going to win you a championship.’ And so when we won, he said ‘where is Peewee? where is Peewee?’ and he said ‘Didn’t I tell you? Didn’t I tell you? and he gets on national TV and says my name.”
“This is the great Michael Jordan, he didn’t have to mention me.”
Both Kleine and Williams are looking forward to “The Last Dance” debuting on Sunday.
“Absolutely, I am going to make time for that, I am going to make time to watch for that,” said Williams.
And of course, you don’t need to ask them who they believe is the greatest of all time.
“These young kids, their attention span can’t handle all the stats and all that so you say, ‘6 rings, 2 gold medals, probably would have been 8 rings if he hadn’t lost his mind and went to play baseball,'” says Kleine.
“The Last Dance” episode one, airs Sunday at 8pm CT.