Michael Jordan Shows Rare Emotion While Discussing Treatment of Teammates

In Monday’s Hot Clicks: Michael Jordan explains why he was so tough on his teammates, Gary Payton overestimates his defense and more.
Author:
Publish date:

“Break”

One thing we haven’t seen much in The Last Dance is an emotional Michael Jordan. Even in the beginning of Episode 7, which covered the murder of Jordan’s father, MJ remained composed. But at the end of that episode, we saw Jordan overwhelmed and needing to take a break. 

The final portion of the episode dealt with Jordan’s reputation as a domineering teammate. Practice footage showing him berating his fellow Bulls and interviews with players painted an unflattering image of Jordan. 

“Let’s not get it wrong,” former Bull Will Perdue said. “He was an asshole. He was a jerk. He crossed the line numerous times.”

Jud Buechler said teammates were “afraid” of Jordan, and it would be hard not to be after he punched Steve Kerr in practice. 

The whole sequence paints Jordan as a bully and makes you wonder whether all the success the players enjoyed would be worth having to deal with Jordan’s abuse.

Jordan’s response is one of the most interesting portions of the film thus far. He says he was just holding his teammates to the same standard he held himself. 

“You ask all my teammates, the one thing about Michael Jordan was, he never ask me to do something that he wouldn’t f---ing do,” Jordan said.

“Look, I don’t have to do this,” Jordan continued. “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 wanna play that way, don’t play that way.”

And then Jordan, fighting back tears, asked to excuse himself.

The story behind that moment is also quite interesting. Director Jason Hehir said on ESPN’s Jalen & Jacoby Aftershow that the scene occurred just 45 minutes into his first interview with Jordan. It was only the beginning of the process, but Hehir knew right away that this moment would be an important part of the film.  

They would eventually speak on camera for a total of eight hours, and Hehir saw Jordan’s vulnerability there as an indication that nothing was off limits in the rest of their conversations.

While the film has been criticized for its cooperation with Jordan, the display of emotion on MJ’s face is the clearest indication we’ve had yet over the course of eight hours that what we’re seeing is 100% honest.

The best of SI

Zion Williamson has been asked to admit he received impermissible benefits to go to Duke, and the Blue Devils should be worried. ... Tua Tagovailoa picked the coolest number in football. ... Five teams who got screwed by the NFL schedule.

Around the sports world

Here’s how MLB reportedly plans to play its 2020 season. ... The governor of Florida said that attending a Marlins game is already a socially distanced experience. ... A 1910 Shoeless Joe Jackson card sold at auction for nearly a half-million dollars

“I had no problem with The Glove”

I think I agree with this

Look at the bat speed this kid has!

Rookie mistake

ESPN just can’t get the MNF booth right

105!

That’s one way to get loose

Zombie Deadspin is baaaaad

ESPN aired Trevor Bauer’s phone number by accident

Not sports

Elon Musk, who’s been behaving extremely normally lately, says human language is on the verge of extinction. ... Queen guitarist Brian May says he tore his “gluteus maximus to shreds in a moment of overenthusiastic gardening.” ... A bear broke into a house in Tennessee and stole a bunch of candy.

Even the kids are reaching a breaking point

I stumbled upon this video again yesterday and I almost forgot what a masterpiece it is

A good song

Email dan.gartland@si.com with any feedback or follow me on Twitter for approximately one half-decent baseball joke per week. Bookmark this page to see previous editions of Hot Clicks and find the newest edition every day. By popular request I’ve made a Spotify playlist of the music featured here. Visit our Extra Mustard page throughout each day for more offbeat sports stories.