Michael Jordan Doesn't Want To Be Seen As The Bad Guy In ESPN Documentary
“The Last Dance” documentary about Michael Jordan will take you on a journey and give you an in-depth look at the person most people consider the G.O.A.T (Greatest of All Time) when it comes to past and present NBA players. ESPN will be airing the 10-part series starting April 19, highlighting the last of the Chicago Bulls three NBA Finals championships from the 1997-98’ season.
While the six-time Finals MVP wouldn’t change anything about his Bulls playing days, he is worried that the documentary will paint him as a horrible guy towards his teammates. In an interview with Richard Deitsch of the Athletic via director Jason Hehir, Jordan gives an explanation on why he had to be that hard on his teammates.
"When you see the footage of [me riding with Scott Burrell], you're going to think that I'm a horrible guy,” Jordan said. “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."
During his time with the Bulls, Jordan was a very fierce competitor on the court that struck fear in the hearts of many of his opponents. That mentality started in practice where MJ would often challenge his teammates to do and give more than they had before. He felt that practice traits would become game-time habits.
"Look, winning has a price," Jordan explains. "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 f–king do."
Like many other great players before him, Jordan wanted to win at all cost and if that meant hurting a few teammates feelings along the way, he was all in. To this day most fans see MJ as a player who had an “all or nothing” mentality which often led to him being considered the “bad guy.”
In an interview with Robin Roberts on “Good Morning America,” Jordan explained where his blue collar work ethic derived from.
“My father worked and General Motors for years trying to provide for his family,” Jordan said. “My mom worked at banks, she worked for Corning Glass company. They were hard working people. They instilled that not just in me, but my siblings as well. I just lived it vicariously through them and learned from them and it just became a part of my nature.”
Jordan led the Bulls to a 62-20 regular season record during the 1997-98 season. His 28.7 points per game was good enough to lead the league in scoring, on his way to his fifth regular-season MVP award. The Bulls secured their sixth championship after defeating the Utah Jazz in six games. That Finals series is the highest rated NBA Finals series in history.