Skip to main content

AFTER MJ RISKED A CAREER ENDING INJURY “My injured calf was stronger than my uninjured calf.”

Michael-Jordan-1

In the world of professional athletes, there are always going to be ups and downs. Stepbacks either make you or break you and most often, those stepbacks occur as injuries. Things happen that are out of your control, and you have to adjust to the situation and keep yourself motivated. One wrong landing can ruin all the hard work you have put in and reset the whole training process, making it even harder, both mentally and physically.

NBA fans have held their breaths many times watching their team’s best player getting carried off the court and waiting for the post-game report on the severity of the injury. If the report shows that the injury is severe and that the rehab is going to last a long time, teams usually give up on the season and try to use it to secure a high pick in a draft. The caution of the teams has led to the development of the tanking culture in the league, which many criticize to this day.

Are teams overprotective of their players? It’s hard to tell, especially because every injury has to be looked at individually. Some players recover faster, and some take longer to do the same things they were doing before, because of the trauma they’ve suffered. We’ve seen the situation with Kawhi and the Spurs, which resulted in Kawhi demanding a trade because he wasn’t satisfied with how his former team handled his injury. After the Kawhi saga, it seems like the teams are even more cautious about injured players, making them sit out even after they are fully healed and ready to play again. Teams are in full control of players’ rehab process, seemingly doing it for their benefit.

As influential as he was, Michael Jordan didn't have such power back in the day. The second episode of long-awaited ESPN and Netflix series “The Last Dance” showed us how MJ treated his broken foot injury during the 1985-86 season, which caused him to miss a total of 64 games. Jordan describes it as a devastating time and talks about how he was anxious to get back on the court.

“I was itching to do something, so I talked the Bulls into letting me go back to college. I just started going to the gym shooting. And then I started playing 1-on-1, then I started playing 2-on-2, then I started playing 3-on-3. Next thing you know, I’m playing 5-on-5, and the Bulls never knew I was doing it. And when I got back with the Bulls, my calf muscles and my injured calf was stronger than my uninjured calf. So the first thing they said is, “What in the hell have you been doing?”

Michael Jordan, The Last Dance

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

Jordan wanted to play, but the Bulls didn’t want him to play. MJ’s persistence resulted in them eventually agreeing that he would play 14 minutes per game, 7 minutes per half. Jordan made a promise to himself that he was going to make the playoffs every year, making it hard on the Bulls to tank for a high draft pick, which was their plan after Jordan went down. Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf shared the hilarious conversation they had with MJ about the risk of returning to play.

Michael returned to the lineup and led the Bulls to a 30-52 record, claiming the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference. MJ was willing to risk getting hurt even more. He was ready to take a chance if it meant that he would be on the court sooner. He was obsessed with winning and couldn’t just sit and watch his teammates go to war without him.

Most importantly, it seems that MJ’s wishes were above the team’s wishes for him. They couldn’t keep him off the court, especially after he realized that they wanted to lose on purpose. Jordan didn’t want to be a part of losing culture, and he wanted to win at any cost.

It’s hard to imagine any player in today’s NBA doing the thing Michael did in 1986. The last one who was willing to sacrifice his body to the same extent was the late, great Kobe Bryant. Both Kobe and MJ shared the same love for the game and hunger for winning that they were ready to do some things against timetables. Those things that by today’s standards may seem as irrational are the reasons why the two are the epitome of mental toughness and tunnel vision on winning.

Teams think that they are doing players a favor by letting them sit out longer than necessary, and that may be true in some cases. However, basketball is the game of rhythm. It takes time to develop on-court chemistry with a team. It takes time to learn the X’s and O’s, learn teammates’ tendencies, and get accustomed to playing with each other. If the player can play, he should perform, no matter the stage of the season and the standings of the team.

The Bulls letting Jordan play and securing the playoffs spot didn’t bring them much in the short run. However, it was the start of deployment of the winning culture, which eventually resulted in 6 NBA championships and one of the greatest runs in the history of the league.

Draymond Green names the only two Western Conference teams who are legitimate threats

Draymond Green names the only two Western Conference teams who are legitimate threats

Draymond Green breaks down why these two Western Conference teams are threats to their back-to-back championship hopes.

Kevin Durant responds to Shaquille O’Neal’s comments about how much players in the NBA are making nowadays

“You’re a billionaire bro”-Kevin Durant responds to Shaquille O’Neal’s comments about how much players in the NBA are making nowadays

Shaq made a lot of money throughout his career, and even since he’s retired, and Kevin Durant noted this and told Shaq to consider how much money he already has

Marcus Smart fires back at rumors suggesting the Boston Celtics need to acquire a point guard this offseason

“This so-called non-point guard is the only one that’s led them to the Finals"-Marcus Smart fires back at rumors suggesting the Boston Celtics need to acquire a point guard

Smart notes that the Celtics have had true point guards on their roster before, but he was the first one to lead the teams to the Finals

How Ronny Turiaf overcame open heart surgery to get on the court for the Los Angeles Lakers

“They are gonna have to f***ing kill me” - How Ronny Turiaf overcame open heart surgery to get on the court for the Los Angeles Lakers

Turiaf’s physical showed that he needed to have open-heart surgery, and despite being told his career may be over, Turiaf battled and eventually made his way back on the court

Shawn-Kemp-min

Shawn Kemp on why he left the Sonics: 'They weren’t going to pay me $100 million'

In 1997, Shawn Kemp left the Sonics because he felt that he deserves to be paid more. He got the deal he wanted with the Cavs but he eventually lost his desire to play.

glen-rice-allan

Glen Rice lauds a Filipino basketball legend: 'He’s up there...You talk about the Larry Birds, Glen Rices, Steph Currys'

Filipino basketball legend Allan Caidic nailed 14 three-pointers in a friendly game with Glen Rice in 2010. A decade later, "G Money" was still in awe of what he had witnessed from his fellow marksman

shaq-o'neal-wilt-chamberlain-kareem-abdul-jabbar-min

"I took it to another level!"-Shaquille O'Neal thinks he was better than Wilt and Kareem

Shaq took inspiration from the great big men and passed them over, in his opinion.