Wizards

Wizards

One of the biggest storylines during the latter half of The Last Dance documentary revolved around Michael Jordan's intense leadership style and his tendency to push his teammates farther than they were willing to be pushed. 

As prevalent as his seemingly ridged style was on the Bulls throughout the 1990s, one former Wizards player admitted he was easier on his teammates in Washington. Especially, Kwame Brown. 

“People think he did that with Kwame,’’ Etan Thomas said in an interview with Syracuse.com. “That’s not what I saw.’’

The Wizards drafted Brown with the first pick in the 2001 NBA Draft out of high school. He never lived up to his draft selection and struggled to become a consistent contributor in the NBA. After four seasons with the Wizards, Brown was traded in 2005 to the Lakers for a package including Caron Butler. 

A talented young player not living up to his potential is something you'd guess would bother the greatest basketball player of all time. But according to Thomas, it was head coach Doug Collins who was the hardest on the young big man. 

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“MJ didn’t ride Kwame that much,’’ Thomas said. “It was more (head coach) Doug Collins riding Kwame and Doug rode Kwame to protect MJ. Everything good, it was because of MJ. And anything that went wrong, it was Kwame’s fault.’’

 

Still, that didn't stop stories from coming out saying Jordan made Brown cry at times during his time in Washington. Brown squashed that rumor, and Thomas' comments certainly back it up.

"There was a report that Michael Jordan would make me cry in the front of the team (laughs)," Brown said in 2017. "A guy who grew up like I grew up don’t really cry much. The report about him calling me a homophobic slur isn’t true."

Jordan had bigger problems in his final NBA season than Brown's development. According to Syracuse.com's story, Thomas witnessed Jordan writhing in pain as trainers drained a "black, tar-like goo" from his knees. 

Jordan's specific leadership style, while difficult to deal with and controversial to some, produced results. However, it's hard to tell whether the six championships, five MVP awards and two three-peats had more to do with his incredible basketball skill than his tendency to ride his teammates. We also can't get a good idea based on his Wizards tenure since he was pushing 40 years old when he started to take it easy on his peers. 

I suppose the book remains open there. 

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