ESPN’s "The Last Dance" is over, but the 10-part documentary series seems to have stirred up some unresolved feelings amongst Michael Jordan’s former Chicago Bulls teammates.
On nearly a daily basis, there is a new report about someone who is upset. Horace Grant called Jordan a "snitch." Scottie Pippen reportedly is “livid” with his ex-running mate, and poor Scott Burrell might want to read up on "Stockholm syndrome" after the mugging he took during the documentary.
While the Bulls sliced through the NBA like a well-oiled machine, they clearly had issues behind the scenes and the documentary has opened up some old wounds.
Current Kings assistant coach Bobby Jackson played against Jordan during his career, and he said this week that other players' perceptions of Jordan ultimately matched the portrayal of him in "The Last Dance."
“Mike didn’t care who he pissed off and who he rubbed the wrong way to win games and come in with a competitive environment every single day,” Jackson said on the latest episode of the "Purple Talk" podcast. “I’ve heard he was a really good teammate, but I’ve heard he could be a really bad teammate also.”
[PURPLE TALK PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]
Basketball teams usually form an interesting family bond. They travel together, spending hours working out and practicing. That often leads to close friendships. To see the Bulls take shots at each other almost 25 years later is uncomfortable to watch, but it has a lot to do with the way their life has now been put on display for so many to see.
Jackson's Kings didn’t have the same success as Jordan's Bulls, but they were a really good basketball team that made eight straight playoff appearances. The core of those squads remains close to this day and many are still associated with the franchise.
Old school pic.twitter.com/fERv53lIee— James Ham (@James_HamNBCS) March 8, 2020
Vlade Divac is the general manager. Peja Stojakovic is his assistant GM, and Jackson is part of the coaching staff. Doug Christie works as a color commentator on the team’s broadcast and many of the other Kings from the turn of the century regularly come back to visit.
Was everything perfect during their time together? Absolutely not, but the bonds forged during their time as teammates are still strong to this day. They would push each other in practice to achieve more, but it was with the intention of making one another better.
“I always felt that for me to go at you, to go at Mike [Bibby] -- that’s the way to show your teammate love,” Christie said during the podcast. “Also, I want to know that I ain’t going into no fox hole with no punk. When we get out there, you are going to have my back.”
Chris Webber was the team’s superstar, but the rest of the squad was filled with talented players who seamlessly into coach Rick Adelman’s system. The basketball was beautiful to watch, and the players genuinely liked one other.
“We allowed each other to police each other and hold each other accountable,” Jackson said. “It wasn’t just one guy. I think we had a collected group of guys that held everyone accountable, and we didn’t feel like we were bigger than the team.”
This just happened. pic.twitter.com/R0JjcDS7E1— James Ham (@James_HamNBCS) January 7, 2020
Players from the Kings' golden era often sit together on the sidelines before games. They have inside jokes and poke fun at one another, but they also are incredibly loyal to each other and have built lifelong friendships.
Would Jackson or Christie trade their experience for Jordan’s? Maybe, but they certainly wouldn’t want to give up the friendships they still rely on to this day.