Your Brand Needs A Rival

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“Anytime Michael goes by you — nail him. Put him on the ground on every drive.” – Isiah Thomas

People are understandably obsessed with the Michael Jordan documentary The Last Dance that’s on ESPN right now. The series is crushing ESPN viewing records. It gives us an inside look into Michael Jordan’s final season with the Bulls.

But before he dominated in 6 NBA Championships, Jordan had to get to his first. To do that, he had to find a way past his nemesis — The Pistons.

A saga begins

That Detroit team was stacked with Isiah Thomas, Dennis Rodman, Bill Laimbeer, Joe Dumars, Mark Acquire, Rick Mahorn, John Salley, and Vinnie Johnson—known collectively as the Bad Boys. The series ended quickly with Detroit bouncing the Bulls in 5 games. It was a tiny appetizer for the main course we didn’t know was coming.

The “Jordan Rules”

Riding that momentum, Jordan came out like a man possessed. He put up gaudy numbers in the first three games on the way to a 2–1 series lead. The Bulls looked to be headed toward their first NBA Finals appearance.

That’s when Detroit implemented, “The Jordan Rules.”

Isiah Thomas coined the phrase while sitting on a park bench contemplating how you stop the freak of nature that was Michael Jordan on a basketball court. The plan was simple…double-team Jordan when he goes left, triple-team him in the paint, and then foul the hell out of him when he gets past you — or above you because the man could fly.

Detroit bounced back for 3-straight wins. They would go on to win the NBA Championship while Jordan watched at home. It was a second frustrating loss for the best player on the planet.

New decade, same result

The “Jordan Rules” had once again killed the dreams of the Bulls. It was one final bit of evidence that Jordan wasn’t going to get past Detroit on his own. Although he’s the most freakishly athletic human to live, he’s still human.

Getting over the hump

Phil Jackson’s triangle offense, strong play from Scottie Pippen, and continued magnificence from Michael Jordan lead to the victory. The Bulls rallied together to overcome their enemy. Jordan was no longer doing it alone. The Bulls now had a team to compliment the best player to sport sneakers.

No team would stand in the way of the Bulls or Jordan ever again. It was that 4-year saga that shaped Jordan and the Bulls into the unbeatable champions they became. Having a nemesis pulled together a fragmented group of personalities, forced unselfish play, and gave everyone a common enemy.

For the Bad Boys, that 3-year domination of Jordan sealed their place in history more than their two championships. They did the one thing nobody else could do — stop Jordan.

Go pick a fight

Losing to a rival can actually be a positive down the road. It’s often the losses that shape us into better teams, people, and companies. So, don’t shy away from competing with that industry heavyweight. Walk up and slap them across the face. Pick a fight and fire up a little unfriendly competition. Both combatants will come out better in the end.

Hi, I’m Andrew. I’m the author of this here post, Founder of this company, and the designated Carrier pigeon of a Friday telegram that helps people get better at marketing called The Recipe. I sure would enjoy keeping our conversation rolling. 

If you’ve made it this far, it’s probably meant to be. Let’s jump on a call to discuss your needs and our solutions.