Michael Jordan Downplays Critics: 'That's You, Because You Never Won Anything'

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMay 11, 2020

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - JUNE 3 : Michael Jordan #23 of the Chicago Bulls speaks with the media before Game 1 of the NBA Finals on June 3, 1998 at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 1998 NBAE (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Michael Jordan has a message to the haters: Count the rings.

The fact that Jordan wasn't always a great teammate isn't in doubt. Sam Smith's book, The Jordan Rules, first revealed how MJ operated behind the scenes, and The Last Dance addressed the topic as well Sunday.

Jordan defended his tactics by pointing to the results: 

SportsCenter @SportsCenter

The end of Episode 7 ... WOW. #TheLastDance https://t.co/N3c5lN0mLI

Rachel Nichols @Rachel__Nichols

"Winning has a price. Leadership has a price. So I pulled people along when they didn't want to be pulled. And I earned that right, because my teammates came after me. They didn't endure all the things that I endured." - Michael Jordan #TheLastDance

Taylor Rooks @TaylorRooks

"When people see this they're going to say 'well he wasn't really a nice guy - he may have been a tyrant' - but thats you. Because you've never won anything." - Michael Jordan

Former teammate Scott Burrell came to his defense as well in an interview with HoopsHype's Alex Kennedy: "It was always verbal. It was never physical. That's why when people say 'Are you worried what they're gonna think? Are you gonna worry about how people are gonna take it?' I'm like, 'No, it was never physical. It was all to make me better.'"

Some might counter that correlation doesn't always mean causation. In addition, any implication Jordan's direct, aggressive strategy was the only path to success would be wide of the mark.

The Golden State Warriors reached five straight NBA Finals and won three championships prior to the—possibly momentary—unraveling of their dynasty during the summer of 2019.

Nobody would argue that the Warriors had a dynamic that was always harmonious behind the scenes. However, there haven't been the same kind of stories of Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson or Stephen Curry acting as hostile toward their teammates as Jordan did.

More than anything, it's somewhat contradictory to unflinchingly defend Jordan at a time when the NBA is attempting to emphasize the importance of players' mental health.