Ray Lewis Discusses Michael Jordan's Leadership Style Amid 'The Last Dance'May 13, 2020
NBA legend Michael Jordan's demanding leadership style was on full display during Sunday's showing of The Last Dance.
In response to that, NFL Network's Rich Eisen asked former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, who led his team to two Super Bowl wins during his 17-year career, about his take on Jordan's methods.
"That leadership came from being denied something, you know? I mean, you go back and if you research Michael Jordan's history, it's one thing to watch it now and be like, 'Oh my gosh, I can't believe he was like that!'
"It's another thing to read his story enough to understand that one kid that was cut from a basketball team that they said he wasn't good enough to do it, you know? And the things that came along with that.
"And that builds a mentality, right? And it's the exact mentality as a lion. A lion don't freakin' hang out with hyenas; a lion don't get up and hang out with zebras; a lion takes care of his pride every day. And Jordan had a mentality like a lion. He went at it."
Lewis referenced Jordan's being cut from the varsity basketball team at Laney High School in Wilmington, North Carolina, as a freshman.
Jordan was seen screaming at his teammates in the seventh episode, and an infamous fight with Steve Kerr was discussed. That incident got Jordan thrown out of practice.
Jordan's Bulls won six titles during the 1990s, so while his leadership style may have worn teammates down, it did prove successful.
To close the seventh episode, Jordan provided the following monologue (h/t Jordan Greer of Sporting News):
"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 don't want to be challenged. And I earned that right because my teammates came after me. They didn't endure all the things that I endured. Once you join the team, you live at a certain standard that I play the game, and I wasn't gonna take anything less. Now, if that means I have to go out 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're gonna 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 and be a part of that as well. I don't have to do this. I'm 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, don't play that way. Break."
Jordan ended his decorated career in 2003 with five NBA MVP Awards.
The 10-time scoring champion and 14-time All-Star also finished his career averaging 30.1 points per game, which is the best mark in league history.