Doug Collins played from ’73 to ’81 and coached four different teams between ’86 and ’13. He has played and coached with and against a lot of historical figures in the NBA. That gives his words credibility when speaking about a player’s character in the game, and he has a fantastic story about the nature of MJ.
Collins coached MJ during his Washington days for the second time (first being from ’86 to ’89 in the Bulls). They had a good relationship, and MJ asked for him to be the coach. Then one day, Collins sat an old MJ in a loss to Indiana.
He would later find out that Jordan had an eight hundred something streak of scoring double digits that Collins stopped by keeping him out of the game with only 8 points. The reporters pushed this issue at the conference, and he felt like this will become a thing. Collins didn’t just sit the GOAT, Jordan was also the part-owner and president/GM of the team. He actually hired him and later in the tenure decided to come back and play. So, double trouble for Collins. After the game, Michael sat next to him on the bus to talk about what had happened.
He got on the bus, and he said: “Scoot over.” He looked at me, and he asked, “Do you think I can still play?” and I said, “Absolutely, that’s why I’m here to help you.” He (Jordan) said, “You know, to be my coach, you have to believe in me and believe I can still play.” I said, “Michael, I believe in you.”
“You did the right thing, You did the right thing. I don’t care about the points, but I needed to know that you believe in me.“
After that, they had a few drinks and smoked a few cigars on the plane back from Indiana. Not recommendable for any athlete, especially a 41-year-old. They packed it in around 3:30 am and MJ was in the gym at 7:30 the next day working out with Tim Grover.
The next game Mj scored on first three possessions, and the opposing coach called a timeout. He told Collins where he wants to get the ball and not to take him out of the game until he tells him to. MJ finally asked for a sub with two minutes left in the game. When Collins asked him what it was all about, Jordan told him the guy that was guarding him said Jordan he was having back problems. “Don’t ever tell me you got a problem; I’ll make you pay for that.” He finished that night with 51.“
Most players would take issue with the double digits streak. MJ just wanted to know his coach still believed in him.