With all of sports shut down earlier this year due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, ESPN moved up the release of its highly-anticipated “The Last Dance” docuseries on Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.
The 10-episode special captivated audiences on a weekly basis, including several Los Angeles Dodgers players. The series became a regular talking point when the Dodgers were hosting their Zoom parties, with Kenley Jansen among those to draw inspiration from the six-time champion.
Manager Dave Roberts, Clayton Kershaw and Justin Turner were also among those to weigh in on where Jordan ranks in terms of the best player of all-time. And for Turner, watching Jordan throughout the series reminded him of Kershaw, via the “Holding Kourt Podcast“:
“Those are the dynamics of leadership that make great leaders great. When you say something or when you tell someone to do something, it actually is holding yourself accountable to make sure you’re doing those same things that you are preaching to the guys around you.
“You can’t yell at someone, ‘Hey, why aren’t you going and conditioning?’ And then you skip out on conditioning. You can’t say, ‘Hey, why aren’t you getting in the weight room?’ when you’re not getting in the weight room. That leadership and accountability is insane.
“Watching him go through his workouts and pushing, it reminded me a lot of Kershaw and how he goes about his workouts and how insane it is that he doesn’t skip or miss a rep any day of the week. No matter what’s going on he go’s about it. That’s why when he speaks, obviously he’s got a long list of accomplishments, but when he speaks, people listen. Same thing with Jordan.”
While Kershaw is not regarded as the most vocal leader in the Dodgers clubhouse, his presence and example set by actions have earned him plenty of praise. It was one reason Roberts was disappointed with the left-hander landing on the injured list on Opening Day because of back trouble.
“I think disappointment for me is for Clayton. He’s as prepared a player as I’ve ever been around, and starting an Opening Day means a lot to him,” Roberts said at the time. “For him to not get to experience it for a ninth time, I just feel for him.”
Mookie seen in similar light to Kershaw
Much like Kershaw, newcomer Mookie Betts has been labeled a leader by example. “When you have Clayton at the center and you know his compete, his work ethic, his teammates have to try to emulate and rise to that bar,” Roberts recently said.
“We’ve filtered in some other guys like that. Adding Mookie, who is of the same mind, character and person as Clayton, certainly enhances that. Now as you look out, we always talk about not only having the best players but the right players we want to be Dodgers.”
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