The Bears hope it’s anything but The Last Dance this season. But that hasn’t stopped coach Matt Nagy and G.M. Ryan Pace from paying homage to the Bulls of yesteryear as the Bears get 2020 rolling.
As explained by Larry Mayer of the team’s official website, Nagy and Pace gave all players, coaches, and staff members a pair of Air Jordans before the team headed to Detroit to start the season against the Lions.
“Our players are great,” Nagy said, via Mayer. “They are why we do things like this because our culture is so important to us. They were surprised and excited. It was important to Ryan and I to include every single player, but also every coach and every staff member because we are a team and a family. All of us. We do this together.”
Recipients of the shoes included owner Virginia McCaskey and chairman George H. McCaskey.
“I’m a huge basketball fan, especially of MJ,” Nagy said. “Just a ton of respect for him being the ultimate competitor and how important success was to him and the sacrifices he made to be the absolute best. I really enjoyed The Last Dance, as a fan and as a coach. Very motivational and applicable to our team and what we are trying to do, so we have shown many clips of the series to our team all offseason and a couple tonight in our team meeting as we prepare to face Detroit. I thought this was a fun way to carry that message through on our trip to Detroit.”
The decision to distribute the shoes now was a nod to the postseason matchups between Chicago and Detroit that culminated in the Bulls advancing to and winning the NBA title in 1991.
“I thought this was a good tie in to the Detroit trip because of the Bulls’ battles versus the Pistons in the late ’80s and early ’90s,” Nagy said. “Those games were nasty and the Bulls’ win in the ’91 playoffs was a testament to the work the Bulls put in, led by Michael, to get over that hump.”
The Bears hope to turn things around after a disappointing 2019 season, one that followed an unlikely division championship in 2018, which resulted in Nagy being named the NFL’s coach of the year after his first season on the job.