Michael Jordan’s ruthless approach to practice has become the stuff of myth since his playing days. “The Last Dance” is offering us a tangible window on that side of Jordan — a window that is apparently going to blow open with the release of Episodes 7 and 8.

On the most recent episode of the Bulls Talk Podcast, Jason Caffey told Jason Goff that those famed Bulls practices, which were often more arduous than games themselves, saved his life.

“It was all Michael to be honest with you. He led everything,” Caffey told Goff. “Every day for two-and-a-half years I never seen this man miss practice or take any time off from practice. He truly believed that if you win at it hard in practice every day, the game would just be a rollover of the situation in practice. 

“And it was just that ethic that he instilled in me that actually saved my life because after my downfalls I was like, What am I going to do next? I’m hurting from this, I’m hurting from that. Well, do what you always do, push hard like Michael Jordan taught you to, and that got me back on my feet, got me back to owning businesses, got me back financially stable. So I credit all that to him.”

Credit should be granted to Caffey, as well, who pulled himself up from humble and adverse beginnings in Mobile, Ala. to parlay a decorated high school career at Davidson into a productive eight-year tenure in the NBA. He spent his first two-and-a-half seasons in Chicago, where he won two NBA titles as a reserve power forward.

 

Caffey told Goff that his time with those Bulls teams represented the structured and mature environment he needed to get his feet under him as a young adult. Again, Jordan was at the heart of that — even if he never intentionally built Caffey up or tore him down.

“He (Jordan) definitely did no building up of anybody, or tearing down,” Caffey told Goff. “It was the individual himself. Whatever that individual himself — whether it be me, Steve Kerr, Scottie Pippen — whatever that individual had in him the most, that’s what Michael Jordan would bring out of you. 

“If you had insufficiencies in you and insecurities, that’s what’s gonna come out on you. And you’re gonna wind up getting shipped off from the Chicago Bulls because you can’t deal with that Type A attitude he had. If you got positive nature inside of you, he’s gonna bring out that positive nature. I luckily had positive nature in me and he kinda ascended me to a higher level.”

Later in the podcast, when asked by Goff if he thought Jordan was an a**hole, Caffey's response was simple: “S***, he still is. But I love him.”

Caffey also went on to discuss his close friendship with Scottie Pippen (and how Pippen treated his contract dispute during the dynasty behind the scenes), how he, Kerr and Jud Buechler were assigned to look out for Dennis Rodman on nights out, and Caffey’s experiences with mental health later in his career.

Now, Caffey said he is in the business of opening homes for mentally ill men, and started the Universal Youth Foundation, which offers basketball to young people as an outlet and strives to educate in the areas of college prep, financial literacy and safe interaction with law enforcement.

Listen to the episode here or via the embedded player below:

Bulls Talk Podcast

Subscribe:

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Bulls easily on your device.