Scott Burrell: Michael Jordan Wasn't a Bully; 'Loved the Way He Motivated Me'

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistMay 11, 2020

CHICAGO - 1998: The 1997-98 NBA Chicago Bulls pose for a team portrait in Chicago, IL. Front row (left to right): Randy Brown, Ron Harper, Scottie Pippen, Michael Jordan, Dennis Rodman, Jud Buechler, Steve Kerr. Second row: , Rusty LaRue, Dickey Simpkins, Toni Kukoc, Joe Klein, Luc Longley, Bill Wennington,  Scott Burrell, Keith Booth. Back Row: Chip Schaefer (Trainer), Frank Hamblen  (Asst Coach), Bill Cartwright (Asst. Coach), Head coach Phil Jackson, Jimmy Rodgers (Asst. Coach) , and Tex Winter (Asst. Coach), John Ligmanowski (Equip Manager). 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 NBAE 1998 (Photo by Bill Smith/ NBAE/ Getty Images)
NBA Photos/Getty Images

The Last Dance documentary has largely served to bolster the mythology that surrounds Michael Jordan, but it has also made something else clear.

Scott Burrell was a favorite target of His Airness when it came to trash talking.

Behind-the-scenes footage in the documentary has shown Jordan needling Burrell in practice, on the team plane and even on the bench. From refusing to hug Burrell on the bench when the Bulls won an international tournament to advising him to guard someone else during practice, Jordan was seemingly relentless with his 1997-98 teammate.

Burrell apparently loved it.

"I think Michael had different techniques maybe some people didn't think were great leadership qualities," Burrell told TMZ Sports. "I loved it. I loved the way he pushed me, I loved the way he motivated me."

He said he is still friends with Jordan and explained he knew No. 23 was just trying to prepare the Bulls for the opponent's best shot they were going to receive as the defending champion.

"People gotta understand, this is a team that won five championships in seven years, and two in a row," Burrell said. "People weren't saying 'I'm gonna play Steve Kerr or Toni Kukoc'; every team that played Chicago was 'I wanna kick Michael Jordan's butt.'"

Something must have worked because the Bulls took home their sixth championship in eight years during the 1997-98 campaign.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.