Some of the void left by North American sports being shut down due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic was filled with ESPN moving up the release date of “The Last Dance,” a 10-episode series on Michael Jordan and the 1998 Chicago Bulls.
Two episodes aired on a weekly basis, with the documentary concluding this past Sunday. An unprecedented look at Jordan and the Bulls captivated not only sports fans but professional athletes alike.
When Jordan’s brief time playing Minor League baseball was a focal point for one of the episodes, Los Angeles Dodgers teammates Justin Turner and Walker Buehler shared friendly banter about the pitcher’s hitting prowess.
Noted L.A. Lakers fan and Jordan Brand athlete Kenley Jansen was among the millions glued to the TV for “The Last Dance” episodes. As Jansen relished reliving Jordan’s best moments, he also drew inspiration from the six-time champion, whom the Dodgers’ closer touted as the best professional athlete of all-time, via SportsNet LA:
“It just motivated me, man. The one thing that motivates me is how a man who was winning all these championships, he succeeds so much in his life, and for him to get criticized and criticized and criticized and criticized, and he seemed like he got it back together to keep pushing and get on top.
“He’s the greatest athlete to ever play sports, to me. For him getting all this criticism and he still can get out there and be hungry and just push, keep winning championships, that’s all it’s about. It just got me excited. It shows you whenever you get a bump in the road, you can’t let those things bug you. You’ve got to keep pushing and get better and get back to the top.
“Watching ‘The Last Dance’ was a good motivation for me. Every time I watched it with Trayvon Robinson, who is living with me right now, I kept telling him, ‘Man, I just want to go in the backyard and Dodger Stadium to just pitch and try to dominate.’ That’s how you feel watching M.J.”
Now one of the longest-tenured Dodgers in the organization, Jansen has regularly voiced his burning desire to help the team end their World Series drought. It’s one of the factors Jansen would regularly reference last season when asked about possibly losing his role amid struggles.
While the 2020 regular season remains on hold — and in some doubt — Jansen spent the winter revamping his workouts after spending time at Driveline Baseball. That lent to impressive results during Spring Training, and the 32-year-old being optimistic for the regular season.
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