CBS Sports - The Last Dance's star, NBA icon Michael Jordan, is concerned that the series doesn't paint the prettiest picture of him as a teammate.
"When people see this footage I'm not sure they're going to be able to understand why I was so intense, why I did the things I did, why I acted the way I acted, and why I said the things I said," Jordan said, via director Jason Hehir in an interview with Richard Deitsch of The Athletic.
"When you see the footage of [me riding with Scott Burrell], you're going to think that I'm a horrible guy. But you have to realize that the reason why I was treating him like that is because I needed him to be tough in the playoffs and we're facing the Indiana's and Miami's and New York's in the Eastern Conference. He needed to be tough and I needed to know that I could count on him. And those are the kind of things where people see me acting the way I acted in practice, they're not going to understand it."
"Look, winning has a price," Jordan said in the documentary. "And leadership has a price. So I pulled people along when they didn't want to be pulled. I challenged people when they didn't want to be challenged. And I earned that right because my teammates who came after me didn't endure all the things that I endured. Once you joined the team, you lived at a certain standard that I played the game. And I wasn't going to take any less. Now, if that means I had to go in there and get in your ass a little bit, then I did that. You ask all my teammates. The one thing about Michael Jordan was he never asked me to do something that he didn't fucking do.
"When people see this they are going say, 'Well he wasn't really a nice guy. He may have been a tyrant.' Well, that's you. Because you never won anything. I wanted to win, but I wanted them to win to be a part of that as well. Look, I don't have to do this. I am only doing it because it is who I am. That's how I played the game. That was my mentality. If you don't want to play that way, don't play that way."
First off, this might be the greatest MJ quote of all time. Better than the 100% of shots I didn't take one.
"You ask all my teammates. The one thing about Michael Jordan was he never asked me to do something that he didn't fucking do."
Amazing. The hardest working, most psychotic competitor that sport has possibly ever known, saying he just holds everybody up to the same standards he holds himself (impossible as that be) is grade-a, choice stuff. No big deal. Just do what I do, that's all I ask.
I haven't really wanted to chime in on the Jordan bonanza the last few weeks, aside from the rundown on Dennis Rodman's dating resume, because my Chicago guys have been killing it along with Greenie and Reags but I feel like the hype surrounding tonight's two hours of The Last Dance is kind of ridiculous.
The least surprising thing of all time regarding Michael Jordan is that he was and still is a raging asshole.
And I'm not the least bit mad at him for it.
It's why he is who he is and why Lebron is the way he is.
Jordan gave and still gives negative infinity fucks about being liked. He ONLY cared about winning. Lebron wants to be liked first, and if he wins, then awesome. Jordan hates to lose more than he enjoys winning. It's why we will probably never see another athlete like him ever again.
"After losing to Dream Team coach Chuck Daly in a one-on-one golf tournament, Jordan forced his way into Chuck's hotel room the next morning by pounding on the door nonstop, demanding a rematch.
He wouldn't leave until he got dressed to play. MJ went on to win the second game."
During the Summer Games in Barcelona, he lost a ping pong match to Christian Laettner while at the team hotel. According to Nat Butler, a photographer who was covering the Dream Team, Jordan threw his paddle. He didn’t talk for two days to anyone. Come to find out, he had a ping-pong table delivered up to his room. No one knew about it. and he was practicing for the rematch. They had a rematch two days later, three days later. It was (something like) 21-4. He destroyed him.
To be wired that way there are bound to be some casualties along the way. In Jordan's case, there are lots of them.
There's the infamous Mugsy Bogues fatality that came out via Bulls Asst. Johnny Bach -
“Johnny said physically Jordan and Pippen were about the same as defenders. But when you add in MJ’s ruthlessness and trash talk, that put him ahead of Scottie. When Johnny was coaching with the Hornets in 1995 they had a good team. Glen Rice, Mourning, Johnson. Series was tied at 2 and Hornets had a chance to win game 5 in Chicago. On the biggest possession of the game, Mugsy had the ball with the Hornets down 1. Jordan backed off of him and told him: ‘shoot it you fucking midget.’ Mugsy shot it, didn’t come close. A year later Mugsy actually told Johnny Bach that he believes that single play ruined his career. His shot never recovered.”
There the time he ended Rodney McCray's career before it even began.
When asked by Sports Illustrated, a former teammate of Michael Jordan had this to say: ‘He’s the most viciously competitive player I’ve ever seen. That’s what makes him, I think, the greatest player ever. He has practically ruined [reserve forward] Rodney McCray for us.’ When the two players are on opposite teams in scrimmages, the source says, “Jordan is in Rodney’s face, screaming, ‘You’re a loser! You’ve always been a loser!’ Rodney can hardly put up a jumper now.’ McCray ended up winning a title that year, but only averaged 15.9 minutes per game. It was also the last season he ever played.
The stories where he swindled his friend and teammate Scottie Pippen out of money on the Dunkin Donuts scoreboard races without thinking twice -
ESPN - “There’s this story of Michael Jordan back in the old Chicago Stadium. He’d show up really early to get his shots up on gameday. If you show up to an arena early enough, you’ll see the gamehouse people basically doing a dry run through everything. Everything from the national anthem to the… One of the things they have is that thing where it’s like the three Bulls flying, and it’s like ‘who’s gonna win?’ So Mike is watching this and is like, ‘oh, so you guys already know [who’s going to win]?’ And the guy say, ‘yeah we know; it’s all pre-recorded.’ [Jordan says] ‘So you know who’s gonna win tonight, right?’ And he says, ‘yeah, the red one.’
Fast-forward to the game. Timeout. Phil is drawing up a play. Mike goes to Scottie and says, ‘Hundred bucks the red one wins.’ And then proceeds to do this for the rest of the season and Scottie never catches on.”
He also did the same thing with his whole team when they would land back in Chicago at O'Hare. Jordan had the O'Hare luggage guys on his payroll and he'd bet his teammates whose luggage would come out first.
There's the numerous epic trash talking stories -
Scoop B Radio - “Jimmy Jackson was giving it to Michael in the first half,” Kendall Gill, Jackson’s New Jersey Nets teammate told me on Scoop B Radio.
“Then in the second half, Michael turned it up and he started giving it to Jimmy.”
For the record, this was the final regular season game between both teams. Two weeks earlier, the Nets came away with a 1 point victory over MJ and the Bulls in New Jersey.
Jordan had 36 points in the loss.
Jackson and Jordan were both jawing and according to Gill, during a break in the game, Jackson directed smack talk Jordan’s way.
That’s when Jordan let Jackson have it. “He looked down and he said: ‘you know what Jimmy you talking a lot of stuff there with my shoes on,’” said Gill.
“How can you come back after that? Shouldn’t talk stuff to a guy when you got his shoes on.”
Trash talking former Commander in Chief Bill Clinton -
Wall Street Journal - Clinton loves playing golf with athletes whenever he can. He's played with Greg Norman, Adam Scott, Luke Donald and Michael Jordan, among others. Jordan coaxed him from the white tees to the championship tees by saying, "You're going to play from the little girls' tee?" Jordan's challenge was for Clinton to break 100; he did.
The time he made Kwame Brown cry -
The story started shortly after the end of Jordan's 2002 season with Washington. They held a team practice during towards the end that year; Kwame Brown believed he was being fouled by Jordan every time he went to the hoop, and the refs weren't calling it. Kwame would drive in for a layup and feel a hard bump. He began to complain about the matter, and Jordan did not want to hear it.
Michael made sure his feelings were known to everyone there (quoted from multiple reports):
“You fucking flaming blank! You don’t get a foul call on a pussy little touch foul, you fuckin bitch. Get your ass back on the floor and play. I don’t want to hear that out of you again. Get your fuckin ass back and play, you bitch.”
You've got the ultimate example of a grudge when he made sure Isaiah Thomas was snubbed from the Dream Team-
And then there’s the Dream Team controversy. In the 1991-92 season, Thomas’ age 30 campaign, he made his 11th consecutive All-Star appearance and played 78 games, averaging 18.5 points, 7.2 assists and 1.5 steals per game. To that point in his career, he was a one-time NCAA champion, two-time NBA champion, a Finals MVP and had earned five All-NBA selections. Yet, on the greatest basketball team ever assembled, he was excluded. Conspiracies swirl as to why, with many speculating it was his dispute with Jordan that led to him not being selected.
That's gotta make grudge Dave proud.
When he used to openly humiliated teammate Bill Cartwright -
The Jordan Rules - Jordan did not respect Cartwright as a man or as a player. He called him Medical Bill because of his past injuries. He thouught Cartwright had bad hands, so sometimes in practice he threw him passes that were unnecessarily hard so that Cartwright would fumble them and prove Jordan's point. About no other player was Michael Jordan to prove quite so wrong as about Bill Cartwright, both as a man and as a player, but it took him almost two years to realize it and admit it.
When he cheated against his former UNC teammates 70-year-old mother in cards -
“There is a famous story about Michael Jordan visiting the home of North Carolina teammate Buzz Peterson; while playing a casual game of cards with Peterson’s mother, Jordan attempted to cheat while the old woman was using the bathroom. This is often used as an example of what made Jordan so awesome; he would do absolutely anything to win, regardless of the circumstance.
The time he got tough with Robert Parish-
In one of his first practices with the Bulls, Parish botched one of the plays and was amused to find Jordan jawing at him just inches from his face.
‘I told him, “I’m not as enamored with you as these other guys. I’ve got some rings too,”’ Parish recalled. ‘At that point he told me, “I’m going to kick your ass.” I took one step closer and said, “No, you really aren’t.” After that he didn’t bother me.’
Of course, the time he punched teammate Steve Kerr in the face -
Eleven Rings by Phil Jackson - During training camp for the 1995-96 season in which the Bulls won an NBA-record 72 games, Jordan and Kerr began trash-talking, according to a 2013 ESPN recounting of the fight. Eventually, Jordan used his physicality to try to psychologically break down a much slimmer Kerr, who opted to fight back after a forearm to the chest. Jordan responded by punching Kerr, and the two had a mini boxing match before teammates intervened. Kerr left with a black eye.
"I was like the kid in "Jurassic Park" who got attacked by the velociraptor," Kerr recalled in a 2016 interview with VICE.
Then there's his life after basketball.
At Jordan's Hall of Fame induction ceremony in 2009 he had the opportunity to take the high road and talk about literally whatever he wished. Instead, Jordan opted to be petty and spiteful and punch down to the amusement of nobody.
In the 20 minute speech, Jordan took aim at the coach who wouldn’t put him on the varsity team as a sophomore (He wasn’t cut by the way); the dude who was picked over him, Harvest “Leroy” Smith, who was in attendance; some NBA vets he accused of freezing him out in his first All-Star Game; Jazz guard Bryon Russell for being on the other end of his final shot as a Chicago Bull; and frequent foil Jerry Krause, the general manager of the Bulls.
As columnist Rick Reilly of ESPN wrote, “Nobody was spared, including his high school coach, his high school teammate, his college coach, two of his pro coaches, his college roommate, his pro owner, his pro general manager, the man who was presenting him that evening, even his kids!”
Jordan blasted almost everyone and everything in his life, including the Hall of Fame itself, and found time for only six thank yous
Then there's the broken friendship with Charles Barkley that Greenie did an awesome job of covering earlier in the week.
People forget these two used to be connected at the hip. Both Hall of Fame talents. They're both insane gamblers. With money to burn. Hard partiers. Loved to golf. They used to burn shit down for years.
(If you want to watch an awesome half-hour blast from the past, Jordan and Barkley busting each other's balls on Oprah back in 2005 is primo stuff)
These guys were best buddies. Then Barkley gets a job on TNT and Jordan gets a job attempting to run the front office of the Bobcats. Barkley tells it like it is and Jordan cuts him off. Barkley is literally dead to Jordan overnight.
To this day they still haven't spoken and Barkley isn't optimistic of it ever changing.
People like to joke that Portnoy loves to hold grudges but Jordan's got him beat. There's no coming back from the dead with Jordan.
And speaking of dead, let's talk about Jerry Krause.
I'm the last guy to tell you he didn't play a major roll in dismantling what could have and should have been a 8 or 9 time Championship squad. Back when I was blogging under White Sox Dave's name I wrote -
Barstool Sports Chicago - The Chicago Bulls, namely Jerry Krause, were lucky in the sense that when they were winning their championships and the squad was disbanding the social media was non existent, and the 24 hour round the clock sports culture was in its infancy. Otherwise there is no chance Jerry Krause would have got the free pass he did. The only real inside details you can get on the behind the scenes dealings that went on between all the enigmatic personalities making up those 1990’s Bulls teams is from the numerous books written about them. “The Jordan Rules”, “Playing For Keeps”, “Blood on the Horns”. All of them carry the same overall theme. Jordan was a prick, Rodman was nuts, Pippen just wanted to be appreciated, Jackson was the peacekeeper, Reinsdorf only cared about winning, and Krause was an enormous piece of shit. Nobody liked the guy. In fact everybody hated the guy. They went out of their way to make it known to him.
Jordan made it abundantly clear that he would come back if Jackson was still the coach. Krause made it clear midway through the season that not only wouldn’t Jackson be back but that he already had his replacement lined up (Tim Floyd). So the band broke up. Jordan kidded himself that he was done with the game for a year before lacing them back up for the Wizards (woof).
The worst part of all this will always be the “what if?”
What if MJ didn’t retire that first time? Do the Bulls win 8 straight? (Yes)
What is Jackson and Jordan stayed on another couple years. Could they have won 10 straight? (Yes)
But I do have an issue with how bad they are raking Krause's body over the coals in this documentary.
I know this will win me no fans in Chicago who would take up pitchforks and torches if this documentary aired and Krause were still alive today. Jordan might honestly be back to being bigger than Ditka again in Chicago right now.
But MJ, the man is dead, for one, he isn't able to defend himself. Secondly, again, why can't you be the bigger man and take the high road? Especially when talking about somebody that's passed away?
And don't say it's not his control. He has almost total control over this documentary.
He has been KILLING Krause like he did his entire career.
Philadelphia Inquirer - What Michael Jordan has done to Jerry Krause over the last three weeks is deliberate and dishonorable. With each episode of The Last Dance, ESPN’s 10-part documentary about Jordan and the 1990s Chicago Bulls, it becomes harder to separate the entertainment and nostalgic value of the series from Jordan’s agenda, from his desire to preserve his legacy, settle scores, and rub his status and greatness in the faces of his real and perceived rivals — one, in particular.
Krause — the Bulls’ general manager for 18 years, including the eight-year period when they won six NBA championships — has served a convenient function throughout The Last Dance. He has been the series’ primary source of narrative tension, and he has been Jordan’s punching bag. All these years later, even after Krause’s death in 2017 and his posthumous induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, Jordan apparently can’t abide that Krause — with a physique like a honey pot, with an irascible disposition, with his own opinions about how to operate an NBA team — had any role to play at all in the Bulls’ success.
Well, good for you, Michael. You got in another punch after the poor kid in the schoolyard went down and would never get up again. This was never a fair fight even when Krause was alive. Jordan was always going to get the benefit of the doubt from the public and the basketball community. Just look at the two of them. Jordan was smart and sharp and handsome, the best basketball player ever, the wealthiest and most powerful athlete ever, and Krause was always the easiest of targets: defensive, insecure, overweight, his shirts always sprinkled with a fine white powder that was doughnut sugar, dandruff, or a mixture of both.
There is something cheap, unseemly, and quite telling about the inclination to continue bullying a man who isn’t around to defend himself. To Michael Jordan, Jerry Krause was a laughingstock when he was building the Bulls’ dynasty, and he remains a laughingstock now, three years dead. A good documentary is supposed to unveil the truth, and by that standard, The Last Dance is a genuine achievement. All it took was the trampling of a man’s memory to reveal Michael Jordan for who he really is.
The only player alive who’s opponents almost speak about him with such reverence like he is dead. It’s almost like they are describing a myth
This isn't some journalist with an ax to grind either. You've even got Charles Barkley calling out the documentary saying they are pinning the Bull's breakup on the wrong Jerry. It was owner Jerry Reinsdorf's fault not Krause.
Again, not saying Krause isn't responsible. Not at all. I'm saying there's no need to dig his body back up and run it over a dozen times just to bury it again. Especially when you're the greatest athlete (not named Jim Thorpe) that's ever lived.
I am fired upor tonight's episodes. Not fired up for all the over-analyzing and disecting tomorrow about what a dick Michael Jordan was when we've all known since day 1.
ps - My friend posted this picture from back in the day this week and it's an awesome picture so I wanted everyone to see it. The city of Chicago is the greatest and I can't even imagine what it must have been like back when MJ and the Bulls ruled the world in the '90s.
pps- here's video of Jordan winning a side bet at a charity golf match