In the wake of “The Last Dance,” ex-teammates and compatriots of Michael Jordan have come out hard against the manner in which some of the events of the Bulls’ dynasty were portrayed in the documentary.
Horace Grant called it a lie that he was the lone source for “The Jordan Rules” (which Sam Smith, who authored the book, corroborated). Craig Hodges (along with Grant) called Jordan out for openly discussing the Bulls’ “Traveling Cocaine Circus” anecdote in Episode 1. Ron Harper insinuated that Jordan’s reputation as a tyrannical teammate was exaggerated.
Kendrick Perkins, while lacking any association with those Bulls teams, played 14 years in the NBA and took it upon himself to criticize the way the Jordan-sanctioned documentary characterized his teammates in a recent appearance on ESPN’s The Jump.
“When you look at ‘The Last Dance,’ the whole documentary, it made Michael Jordan look like a superhero, and it made everybody else look like a villain,” Perkins said. “Michael Jordan broke every player code imaginable… Some of the things he was saying with Scott Burrell, saying that he was in the club every night. Talking about what Horace Grant said about guys doing drugs, everyone except for him (Jordan). And then, ‘The Last Dance’ hurt Scottie Pippen. People today are looking at Scottie Pippen like a selfish individual.
“At the end of the day, ‘The Last Dance’ was to praise Mike — which it should have been — but you didn’t have to tear down other people to praise your greatness, because your greatness alone speaks volumes for itself.”
Longtime NBA reporter Jackie MacMullan, also on The Jump panel, elucidated how some former teammates of Jordan felt watching the documentary based on conversations she’s had.
“When they heard ‘The Last Dance,’ they were thinking, ‘Oh, it’s about our team,’” MacMullan said. “Well, no, it’s about one of the more compelling athletes who ever lived, it’s mostly about Michael. So I think some of them felt duped right from the get-go.
“Everybody’s truths are different… We could put five NBA players in a room and ask them to recount something that happened 20 years ago, and we’d get five different stories. That’s just how it works. Everybody remembers it a certain way relative to themselves, oftentimes. And I think that’s some of what we’re saying here.”
Jordan indeed had editorial control over the documentary, a condition necessary to gaining interview access to him and unlocking the behind-the-scenes footage captured by the NBA from the 1997-98 season. ESPN agreed to that trade-off, and to great success. The ramifications are on full display as the dust settles.
But, as The Jump host Rachel Nichols says at the end of the segment: “History is written by the victors, Michael Jordan was the ultimate victor.”