No soup for you
Before The Last Dance debuted on ESPN, Michael Jordan said he thought the series would make people think he’s “a horrible guy.” If that’s the case, then he’s lucky this anecdote didn’t make the documentary because it would only strengthen that impression.
Sam Smith, the longtime Bulls reporter who wrote the illuminating MJ book The Jordan Rules, appeared on KNBR’s Tolbert, Krueger and Brooks Podcast and told a story in which Jordan is way more cruel than we’ve seen in the documentary.
Jordan, Smith says, wouldn’t let Horace Grant eat on the team plane if Grant had a lousy game.
Here’s the full quote:
“Players would come to me over the years and said, ‘You know what he did? He took Horace [Grant’s] food away on the plane because Horace had a bad game. [Michael] told the stewardesses ‘Don’t feed him, he doesn’t deserve to eat.’
They would tell me stuff like that and they they’d say ‘Why don’t you write this?’ And I would say ‘Well I can’t write it unless you say it.’ I don’t do ‘league sources.’ You can’t do that kind of stuff on these kind of things. ‘If you want to be quoted I’ve got no problem with that.’ ‘No, no, no we can’t say that about Michael Jordan.”
The main reason you won’t hear this story in the documentary is because Smith had never told it before and none of Jordan’s teammates would put themselves on camera telling such a story. (Smith, an old-school journalist, apparently sees a difference between saying it on a podcast and writing it.) The reason you won’t hear many stories of Jordan’s cruelty is that Jordan has creative control over the doc.
In a perfect world, you’d be able to make a documentary about Jordan without having to run everything by him and you’d be able to explore the toll his maniacal pursuit of greatness exacted on his teammates. Hopefully Episodes 7 & 8 address that in a satisfying manner, but this is what Ken Burns was talking about when he said ESPN was wrong to include Jordan’s production company in the project.
Here’s the thing about this
The NCAA will never allow this to happen because if it does, it exposes the whole college sports model as a sham. If college athletes are supposed to be just like every other student, how can you rationalize them being the only people on campus just so they can play sports? That’s an admission that their roles as athletes supersede their roles as students.
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This is fake, sadly. (Only one of the bullets had been fired.)
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