Top 10 Instances of Michael Jordan Being Just Plain Mean
The same can be said when he’s off the court.
Because of his hypercompetitive nature, Jordan isn’t afraid of voicing his opinions or getting in people’s faces. He also isn’t afraid of taking the frowned-upon path if it brings him success.
Unsurprisingly, there are a considerable number of entertaining anecdotes from teammates and opponents that detail just how much mean Jordan reportedly was.
These are the 10 best of the group.
If this were a list that took in consideration every unverified story and report of Michael Jordan being rude, it simply would go on forever.
Instead, this is a compilation of anecdotes and instances of MJ coming from the players and coaches who witnessed whatever Jordan did and can verify what type of person MJ really was.
As a result, some of the stories quite couldn't make the cut. Below are the two of the best:
Chamillionaire Photo Request
When rapper Chamillionaire had the opportunity to meet Jordan, his hero, he asked MJ for a picture with him. Not only did Jordan brush him off, but he also cursed him out and disrespected him by saying "“You know what, I tell you what, you pay $15,000 right now for a jersey from me and I’ll take a picture with you.'" Needless to say, Jordan lost one celebrity and childhood fan that night.
MJ Kicked out of Country Club
Michael Jordan is known to have a love for golfing, but now there's one less place where he can do that. After he showed up to the private La Gorce Country Club in Miami not following the dress code, he was asked to change. His reply was of typical Jordan-ian fashion. According to Curtis Bunn of the Atlantic Black Star, he explains:"But when a club official approached him on the 12th hole and asked him to change his wardrobe, Jordan refused. Arrogant. Not good and just plain old arrogant."
The country club's response was to ban him from playing on its golf course ever again.
When Jordan's public relations office issued a statement regarding the incident, it concluded with: "'I guess it’s their loss – as MJ is a great golfer, and a great guest.'"
The next 10 an
10. The Forced Game of Golf
Michael Jordan doesn’t spend too much time on the basketball court anymore. Now that he’s retired, his attention lies primarily on the golf course.
Some would argue that’s also where it was in the summer of 1992.
The famous Dream Team was practicing in Monte Carlo before they went on to obliterate the competition at the Barcelona Olympics.
One day, his coach Chuck Daly and Jordan were playing a round of golf. It went down to the wire, but eventually, Daly came out on top by one shot. Knowing when to quit when he was ahead, Daly vowed to never play a round against Jordan again.
Of course, the competitive Jordan would have none of that. He wouldn’t take his loss in stride and focus on winning in the Olympics.
In a Sports Illustrated article, columnist Rick Reilly details what occurred:
The next morning, at the crack of dawn, Jordan rang Daly's room. Getting no response, he went directly to Daly's room and knocked. Then he pounded. He wouldn't go away until he got his rematch. He got it, and he won by a shot. But would you expect anything else?
Jordan could not accept losing, and while it made him the greatest basketball player ever, it reportedly brought out petulant and disagreeable behavior.
9. Punching Steve Kerr in the Face
Currently a TNT analyst, Steve Kerr shared an anecdote on the Dan Patrick Show about Michael Jordan establishing his leadership:
‘I disagreed with him one time,’ Kerr said with a chuckle. ‘I think he punched me in the face.’
That disagreement happened during a scrimmage at training camp when Kerr took offense to something Jordan said, and he didn’t refrain from expressing his true feelings.
‘It was one of the best things that ever happened for me, I needed to stand up and go back at him, I think I earned some respect. But we have a great relationship ever since… you gotta prove it and then once you prove it, you’re fine.’
Despite taking a fist to the nose, Kerr walked away from it without holding a grudge. There were no hard feelings between Kerr and Jordan after that.
In Game 6 in the 1997 NBA Finals, he didn't hesitate to pass to Kerr, who calmly hit the game-winning and championship-clinching shot. The rest is history.
8. His Hall of Fame "Sore Winner" Speech
This is the one story that you can be sure is 100 percent true.
The Hall of Fame acceptance speech is one that is supposed to be heartfelt and modest. It is supposed to be a reflection on good NBA memories and an opportunity to thank friends and family who’ve helped along the way.
The key phrase “supposed to be” apparently doesn’t pertain to Michael Jordan.
At least the speech came from his heart. And through this “23-minute cringe-athon,” Jordan exposed to the world what went through his mind and how he felt.
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.
It was typical Michael Jordan at his best.
7. Fooling Charles Barkley
They were also great friends who went golfing together in the middle of the championship series.
According to Bulls assistant coach Johnny Bach:
The day before game 4 of the Bulls Suns finals with the Bulls leading the series 2-1. Michael and Charles Barkley went golfing. They played 48 holes of golf. And Michael bought Charles a $20,000 diamond earring. Johnny asked MJ, “what did you do all that for?” Michael responded, “he won’t get in my way the rest of the series, what’s $20,000 to me? Charles thinks we’re great friends. I hate that fat f—.” Jordan dropped 55 in game 4 and Barkley never touched him once.
Sounds like Barkley can stand to make some new friends.
6. Bullying Bill Cartwright
You know it’s bad news when the Bulls released one of the few teammates Jordan liked and brought in a player from a rival team.
Bad news for that player, that is.
When the Bulls let Charles Oakley go and brought in Bill Cartwright, Jordan resented the loss of his friend and took it out on Cartwright, calling him “Medical Bill” and intentionally throwing impossible-to-handle passes at him in practice to draw attention to what he perceived to be his bad hands.
Cartwright went on to help the Bulls win three championship rings with Michael Jordan, defending the paint against elite centers on opposing teams.
Jordan may not have wanted to admit it, but Cartwright’s “bad hands” contributed to Jordan’s success in a big way.
5. Shooting Down Rodney McCray
Rodney McCray joined the Chicago Bulls in the 1992-1993 season at the age of 31. He was a very serviceable forward who had just averaged 16.6 points and 8.2 rebounds three years prior.
Eager to win a title, he was willing to come off the bench to help the Bulls.
He had no idea what would come next.
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.
4. Challenging the Chief
As one of the “Big Three” in the Boston Celtics ‘80s dynasty with Larry Bird and Kevin McHale, Robert Parish was a proven leader.
The seven-foot center, nicknamed "The Chief," had won multiple championships at that point and commanded the respect of everyone around him.
Well, everyone but Michael Jordan.
Parish was part of the 1996-97 Chicago Bulls in the middle of Jordan’s second three-peat. Instead of welcoming him with open arms, Jordan responded quite differently:
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.’
As journalist Kurt Helin states, “By that point, Jordan was an established leader whose style was intimidation and pressure. Jordan was the ultimate alpha male who let you get away with nothing.”
And apparently, that included future Hall of Famers.
3. Busting Kwame Brown
Kwame Brown has become one of the biggest NBA draft busts of all time. He stands as one example of young talented phenoms who never lived up to their hype.
However, his situation as a Washington Wizard certainly wasn’t helped by the general manager who drafted him.
As a leader Jordan proved more tormentor than mentor. Many Washington players got the business end of a Jordan harangue, but he designated second-year forward Kwame Brown as the whipping boy…A source told SI that Jordan ritually reduced Brown to tears in front of the team.
The article continues that Jordan called Kwame Brown expletives, including homophobic remarks, according to The Washington Post.
Not only did Jordan hurt teammates, but he also insulted his own players as a GM as well.
2. Destroying Muggsy Bogues
In the Bulls’ first-round battle against the Charlotte Hornets in 1995 after Jordan’s highly touted comeback to the NBA, Jordan didn’t hesitate to leave his mark.
According to former Bulls assistant coach Johnny Bach, Jordan was guarding Muggsy Bogues when this happened:
On the biggest possession of the game, Muggsy had the ball with the Hornets down one. Jordan backed off of him and told him, 'Shoot it, you f***ing midget.' Muggsy shot it, didn’t come close. A year later Muggsy actually told Johnny Bach that he believes that single play ruined his career. His shot never recovered.
The next year, Bogues’ career certainly started to decline. Whether or not Jordan was the primary reason for this is up to debate.
1. Cheating an Old Lady in Cards
The biggest and most egregious example of Michael Jordan being Michael Jordan didn’t even happen on a basketball court. Instead, it transpired at the home of North Carolina teammate Buzz Peterson.
The story goes like this: Peterson invites Michael Jordan over to play a casual game of cards with Peterson’s mother. No money is wagered—just a simple, friendly game.
But when the old woman gets up to use the bathroom, Peterson catches Jordan trying to cheat.
Trying to cheat not to win any money, but just because he wants to win at all costs.
Author Chuck Klosterman summarizes it best when he says:
And because the character in this anecdote is MJ, the story is charming. However, I doubt Buzz Peterson would tell this yarn if it had involved his mother and some random dude he met in Anthropology 251 (and if he did, the story would now be about that one time he brought a lunatic home for Thanksgiving break).