Scott Burrell: Michael Jordan Didn't Bully Me, but Tactics Wouldn't Work Today

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistMay 18, 2020

Southern Connecticut's head coach Scott Burrell reacts in the first half of an exhibition NCAA college basketball game against Connecticut, Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016, in Storrs, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
Jessica Hill/Associated Press

Michael Jordan's leadership tactics may have worked on Scott Burrell, but the former Chicago Bulls guard does not believe they'd fly in the modern game. 

Burrell appeared on ESPN's Get Up on Monday, saying young players lack the mental toughness to withstand the criticism:

"It would never work. Kids have a lot of egos, they've never been coached, they've never been pushed. I can't say everyone, but for the most part, they've never been challenged every day. Today's AAU circuit, if kids aren't happy with a team, they'll go to a different team instead of working through issues or getting better.

"It makes it tough to be Michael Jordan and push people the way he did back in the day, compared to today's coaches and today's society. People consider it bullying what Michael did. I think it was just challenging people to be the best person they can be."

Burrell and then-general manager Jerry Krause were the two most regular subjects of Jordan's barbs throughout "The Last Dance," the 10-part documentary series that ended Sunday night. While Jordan's comments about Krause came from a clear dislike, his barbs at Burrell seemed mostly in jest or in an effort to push him competitively. Burrell said he felt Jordan targeted him because he saw unrealized potential.

That said, it would've been hard to blame Burrell if he held a grudge. In The Last Dance alone, Jordan outed Burrell's drinking and partying to his parents, called him a "ho" and a "b---h" and regularly ripped his skills on the court, at one point saying Burrell is "garbage." And all of that is just what was shown in the documentary.

Instead of taking it harshly, Burrell reacted with kindness to Jordan—to the point the "nice guy" frustrated Jordan, as he admitted in the documentary. Burrell lasted only three more seasons in the NBA after Jordan retired, so it's not exactly clear if MJ's tactics worked. In fact, Burrell's best numbers came without the ire of Jordan beating him down.

That said, it's clear Burrell appreciated it, even if he thinks young players today wouldn't be able to handle the heat.