Before I even get into the meat of these stories that were first reported by Deadspin, I have to give a couple of disclaimers.
First, Michael Jordan is, without a doubt, above and beyond my favorite athlete on the planet. As a kid, I was, arguably, the most obsessed with the dude, trying to duplicate him and dropping way too much on every single one of his kicks. Hell, even now—at 31 years old—I’m wearing a pair of Jordan IV’s that I spent $200 on, so, yeah, dude has had a lasting effect on me.
Second, that doesn’t mean I don’t know about or just overlook the guy’s shortcomings. I’ve never met him, but I have friends who have and said he was sort of a prick, which, c’mon, he’s Michael Fucking Jordan, OF COURSE he wasn’t just going to be the most sociable athlete.
Anyway, now that that’s out of the way, on to these stories that, again, according to Deadspin, may or may not be true based off of the source. However, after you read them, I have a feeling that 99 percent of you will agree that they are absolutely, undeniably fact.
So here’s the quick background.
Johnny Bach—a former Chicago Bulls assistant coach—just passed away at 91 years old. Deadspin received an email with these stories from a friend of a friend, with someone going to dinner with Bach and getting the inside scoop on all sorts of shit that went down with the Bulls in the ’90s.
Here are some of the anecdotes, per Deadspin, which, again, I can’t help but believe is all fucking true—if nothing else but for a good story.
On Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan’s rivalry:
Nothing but respect for Pippen. Great teammate. Great player. He was a thug when he came into the league, but really came around and they talk regularly now. Pippen and Jordan together defensively was as devastating a duo as there will ever be. Scottie and Michael used to compete on everything. Jordan used always claim his hands were bigger, but they weren’t. Scottie was very blessed down below. And that killed Michael. Johnny said, “you should have seen the girls pippen had waiting for him everywhere we went. Madonna used to pick him up in a limo with a hot tub every time we went to L.A. Michael used to tell Madonna he could
satisfy her better, to which Madonna would tell him “not a chance.””
The youngest of 17 children, Pippen has had a tough battle with money. When you combine the fact that pippen signed a stupid long term deal in 1991, family members riding him, and a crooked investment where he had $20 million stolen from him, Pip was basically flat broke when he came back to the Bulls in 2003. [Jerry] Reinsdorf gave him a big deal and even paid him for the two years he didn’t play, which he didn’t have to do. Reinsorf is a loyal guy and Johnny nothing bad to say about him, but Reinsdorf obviously took Krause’s position back in 1995 so it’s not all rainbows, but he likes Reinsdorf. Pippen also married Larsa who comes from big time money. So he’s doing fine now.
On Jordan ruining Muggsy Bogues:
Johnny said physically Jordan and Pippen were about the same as defenders. But when you add in MJ’s ruthlessness and trash talk, that put him ahead of Scottie. When Johnny was coaching with the Hornets in 1995 they had a good team. Glen Rice, Mourning, Johnson. Series was tied at 2 and Hornets had a chance to win game 5 in Chicago. On the biggest possession of the game, Mugsy had the ball with the Hornets down 1. Jordan backed off of him and told him: “shoot it you fucking midget.” Mugsy shot it, didn’t come close. A year later Mugsy actually told Johnny Bach that he believes that single play ruined his career. His shot never recovered.
On Jordan meeting women:
MJ used to tell Johnny that “Tiger Woods is an idiot. I tried to help him, but the kid’s gonna get caught.” (we all know how that turned out). In order for a girl to get to MJ, she needed to go through 4 undercover former narcotics detectives just to speak to Michael. She had to be approved by all 4 to make sure she wasn’t gonna say a damn word about MJ to anyone. So there’s MJ, not the greatest character guy, but he sure was pretty smart.
On B.J. Armstrong and his relationship with John Paxson:
Very talented player, but unbelievably sensitive. Jordan used to tear him apart every minute. If BJ missed two shots in a row on passes from MJ, Michael would walk by the bench and say, “get his ass out.” BJ a very vain individual. He always made it a bigger competition with [John] Paxson than it should have been. BJ would go insanely hard during warmup dribbling drills to try to make look bad. Which one day prompted Phil [Jackson] to say, “BJ you’re one selfish cocksucker.” And as you guys know, the competition between BJ and Pax continued into the Bulls front office. When Paxson was given the GM job, BJ quit. Still pissed. That’s the reason he didn’t show for the 1991 reunion last month. Johnny did say, however, that BJ is behind the scenes with D rose, and he’s doing a great job of handling him and how he acts. So that’s pretty cool.
On Jordan helping out Bach:
Jordan invited Johnny Bach (Johnny later told me they talk once a month, good friends) to MJ’s Hall of fame dinner. It was $1,000 per plate, plus airfaire, hotel, etc. Johnny straight up told Michael that he didn’t have the money. The next morning, a limo showed up, airfaire and hotel and dinner was paid for, along with other money to spend for the week.
No idea if all, parts or any of this is true, but it’s compelling stuff that shows why MJ is still one of the most popular athletes on the planet—and was both ruthless, competitive and successful. It’s why there’s never going to be anyone like him.