TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – While the rest of the country watched ESPN’s “The Last Dance” documentary series to learn more about Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls of the 1980s and 90s, Dwayne Bacon watched with a bit of a different perspective.
Something like, “Hey, I know that guy.”
Bacon, a former Florida State basketball star, considers Jordan to be an icon, a hero and an inspiration.
He also counts Jordan as his boss.
Bacon is a third-year pro in the Charlotte Hornets organization – which has been owned by His Airness since 2010.
And he believes that the Jordan in the documentary series – which aired earlier this year as COVID-19 first spread across the U.S. – is the same Jordan that leads the Hornets every day.
“That’s exactly what you get – a competitive guy,” Bacon said. “He wants the best out of everyone. When you have a person like that, that you can talk to, it really doesn’t get any better.
“I’d rather have ‘MJ’ telling me what to do than anybody.”
Jordan, of course, is a cultural icon who won six NBA titles and is on the shortest of short lists of the greatest players ever.
Bacon, though, is inspired by Jordan’s patience and perseverance. Great as he was, Jordan’s Bulls didn’t win their first championship until 1991 – Jordan’s seventh year in the league.
It’s something that Bacon, 24, keeps in mind as he looks to take his career to the next level.
“Greatness takes time,” Bacon said. “You can’t expect to jump in this league and just win, win, win right away. I’ve just got to keep working and be patient. … Now, when I get in the gym, I try to go 10 times harder.”
Even still, Bacon was only two years old when Jordan retired in 1998.
Which means he was seeing many of the highlights, heroics and memorable moments on display in “The Last Dance” for the first time.
“Everybody grew up wearing Jordans (shoes); hearing all the stories,” Bacon said. “My generation, we never had a chance to watch him. So, for this to come out and us to see what he was like and what he did, it’s probably the best thing that happened during this time.
“I feel like the world needed to see it, because a lot of people in the world today haven’t seen him play a game, ever. So it’s like we needed to see it. We needed to see why everybody thinks he’s the greatest, see what he was going through, what he did and how he changed the game.
“And for me to actually be able to talk to him and ask him stuff, that’s just icing on the cake.”
Until recently, Bacon held out hope that he and his teammates in Charlotte would be included in the NBA’s restart and that the Hornets, seven games out of a playoff spot when the season stopped in mid-March, would have a chance to compete.
That hope, however, was snuffed out earlier this month when the NBA announced that it would hold a 22-team, eight-game finish to the regular season before moving into the playoffs.
The Hornets didn’t make the cut.
But Bacon has still found ways to keep busy over the last few months.
An avid music lover, Bacon released a rap album under the name “Bake” in May.
The album, called “Living Wrong,” spans 15 tracks and more than 30 minutes. Teammate Miles Bridges appears on the song “BackEnd” and the two often record together.
“I have a studio in my house, so I have so much time to make music,” Bacon said. “I don’t even look at myself as good at it. I just do it because I love music. I just do it because this is one of my passions.
“Basketball is always my first choice, but fashion and music are right there behind. Doing music takes my mind off a lot of things. I don’t really care if people listen to it or people don’t. It’s just more for me and more for what I like to do.”
It’s been three years since Bacon last played for Florida State. As a sophomore, he helped lead the Seminoles to their first NCAA tournament appearance in five years, and the program has only continued to climb in the years since his departure.
Bacon watched as the Seminoles advanced to the Elite Eight in 2018 and Sweet 16 in 2019, and he feels certain about where they were headed before COVID-19 brought the sports world to a halt.
“I definitely feel like we were going to win it all this year,” Bacon said.
Bacon, like the rest of the FSU community, remains disappointed that this year’s Seminoles were robbed of their tournament run.
But he’s still proud of what the program achieved in recent years – a run that began when Bacon, Malik Beasley, Terance Mann and Christ Koumadje arrived as freshmen in the fall of 2015.
Bacon, Beasley and Mann are all in the NBA, while Koumadje was recently named the NBA G-League defensive player of the year.
And Florida State basketball is in perhaps its best shape in generations.
“When we went to Florida State, that was our goal,” Bacon said. “We were just saying, ‘Let’s change the culture and let’s get to the league.’
“To see how long we can play this game, to see how long we can be one of the best players in the world, that’s what we want to do.”