Michael Jordan: 'You're Going to Think I'm a Horrible Guy' on 'The Last Dance'

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistApril 15, 2020

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 24: Michael Jordan speaks during The Celebration of Life for Kobe & Gianna Bryant at Staples Center on February 24, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

NBA legend Michael Jordan expressed concern to director Jason Hehir regarding how he will be viewed based on some of the footage set to be included in his The Last Dance documentary series on ESPN.

In an interview with Richard Deitsch of The Athletic, Hehir recalled something Jordan told him when they met about the project in 2017:

"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. ... When you see the footage of [me riding with Scotty 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."

The Last Dance is a 10-part series detailing Jordan's final season with the Chicago Bulls in 1997-98, and it will begin airing Sunday on ESPN.

With regard to MJ's comments about how he treated Burrell, Hehir said he reassured Jordan by letting him know that he would have the opportunity to explain his actions throughout the documentary.

Every indication is that Jordan's burning desire to win will be a common theme during the series. In fact, Deitsch singled out something Jordan said in the seventh episode of the series about not always coming across as a nice guy during his pursuit of greatness:

Video Play Button
Videos you might like

"Look, winning has a price. 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. 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."

Jordan won six championships with the Bulls during his career with three-peats from 1991-93 and 1996-98. His Airness was also named NBA Finals MVP each time.

The 14-time All-Star and five-time MVP is considered by many to be the greatest basketball player of all time, and his penchant for performing his best in the biggest moments may be the primary reason for that.

Jordan is the bar against which all other great players are measured, including Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. Reaching that bar is nearly impossible, and The Last Dance may provide some insight into why that is. The series will allow viewers to catch a glimpse of Jordan's mentality and why the drive for his sixth championship was so important to him.

While The Last Dance originally wasn't supposed to begin airing until June, the decision was made to move it up to April in order to give those stuck at home without any sports something to watch during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Related

    How Local Athletes Are Creating Change For Chicago

    Chicago Bulls logo
    Chicago Bulls

    How Local Athletes Are Creating Change For Chicago

    670 The Score
    via 670 The Score

    Stephen Jackson Sends Message to Trump: Do Not Speak George Floyd's Name

    NBA logo
    NBA

    Stephen Jackson Sends Message to Trump: Do Not Speak George Floyd's Name

    Adam Wells
    via Bleacher Report

    NBA Might Use 2K Crowd Noise

    One option NBA and NBPA are considering is using NBA 2K sounds for crowd noise

    NBA logo
    NBA

    NBA Might Use 2K Crowd Noise

    Blake Schuster
    via Bleacher Report

    NBPA Approves 22-Team Format

    All 28 player reps on the call approved the NBA's return-to-play format

    NBA logo
    NBA

    NBPA Approves 22-Team Format

    Paul Kasabian
    via Bleacher Report