Michael Jordan: An Asshole
I’m going to say it now, The Last Dance is a Top 3 ESPN documentary, right next to The Fab 5 and The ‘99ers. But a lot of people’s eyes are seeing some of the shimmer that surrounded Air Jordan slowly fading away...and this time, it’s hard to call them crazy.
First of all, shout out to Jordan and Philly’s own Michael Tollin for putting together such a revealing documentary. In the last two episodes(5 & 6) a lot of people were shocked to hear about what Jordan called his “competitive problem” during his playing days. The mid-play off trip to Atlantic City for some craps, the self reference as God during a ticket exchange and the unapologetic nature of his Air-ness have left a lot of fans with mixed emotions.
It’s as if he’s human or something. But if you weren’t conflicted before, these next two episodes are going to really shake up how you view the price of winning. In a tweet that
was used to promote the upcoming episodes(7 & 8) of The Last Dance, Jordan’s teammates don’t hold back on criticizing his harsh leadership skills. While Jud Buechler flat out said “we were his teammates and we were afraid of him”, Will Purdue called him an asshole and said "he crossed the line numerous times” right to the camera. Now, if you really know the history of this team, you’re not shocked by any of this. The stories of Jordan walking into opposing team's locker uninvited or punching Steve Kerr square in his face have been public knowledge for a while now. But what makes this clip so interesting is the immediate praise that follows the criticism.
For anyone who’s won anything competitive, especially in sports, you know winning takes a balance all four elements. Stick with me here. The way our world needs Earth, Air, Water and Fire to function, a champion or a championship team need all four expressed through skills and individuals. Take basketball for example, you need someone that’s solid and unwavering(Earth) evasive but persuasive(Air) nurturing while being fluid(Water) and finally, trail blazing and unpredictable(Fire) to make a complete team. Now all of them are strong in their own way but all four are unstoppable. There’s no mistaken that Jordan was that fire. Did it get out of hands at time? Hell yea. But it was necessary because without that individual that smolders the stale and has an untimely way of correcting/renewing things, there is no progress.
When questioned on it, Jordan flat out said he pushed his teammates for sure, but for the sake of making them strong enough to handle what other teams were going to throw at them. I think this is a nice way of shrugging off some mistakes and I do believe he was in large part an asshole. And to be completely honest, it was a time I didn’t understand or care for people like this, but once again, if you’ve ever won anything you get how important some fire can be.
- Darryl “D.Rey” Reynolds