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Breaking the myth that Michael Jordan "never came and asked for other players"

The narrative that Michael Jordan is better than LeBron James because he never asked for trades or tried to impact draft choices is 100% false.
Jerry Krause and Michael Jordan

Jerry Krause and Michael Jordan

One of the main themes of The Last Dance was the disdain Michael Jordan had for Jerry Krause. Last night, a video of Krause praising Jordan for never asking for help came out, and it caused an avalanche of "MJ>Lebron" reactions. Hate to break it to you, but that's just not the case. 

Michael never asked for help?

MJ wasn't subtle about disliking Jerry Krause. From calling him "crumbs" because the Bulls GM often had food leftovers on his clothes to mooing like a cow every time Krause came to the locker room. 

The foundation of the conflict was the fact Krause always felt Jordan was getting too much/all of the praise and that the rest of the organization wasn't getting enough/any. From the moment Jordan came to town, the Bulls' marketing and PR revolved around Black Jesus, but Krause felt the team on the court was more than just one spectacular player. 

Still, the Bulls GM always hoped Jordan would acknowledge his great scouting and decision-making. He wanted that nod of approval from the GOAT until the bitter end. I think that's the lens through which this quote and video should be observed. 

“He never came to me and asked for other players. He never came to me and asked me to draft a player.”

Jerry Krause, @jumpmanhistory

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Time for facts

I've seen a lot of people taking this and running with it just because it gives them an excuse to say this is yet another proof MJ is better than LeBron. Particularly after the drama that just unfolded in LA during the trade deadline. 

You don't have to be an NBA historian to know this narrative ain't true. The Last Dance, a promo documentary about Michael Jordan produced by Michael Jordan, demonstrated otherwise. In it, Sam Smith, the author of The Jordan Rules, talks about this. In case you never actually grabbed the book, here are just a few moments in which MJ pushed the front office to make moves, either via trade or during the draft. 

  • He didn’t think Pippen and Grant were ”tough enough and he was lobbying for trades. ... But then the Bulls used the cap room to acquire Dennis Hopson instead of any of Jordan’s choices.
  • After losing Ed Nealy, he wanted the team to use their 1st round pick to get an experienced player - “Management knows where we can improve,” said Jordan. “And I don’t think they’ll be looking at the draft.”
  • Telling Johnny Dawkins the Bulls are going to draft him during a pickup game in North Carolina - “So when the Bulls skipped Dawkins for Sellers, Jordan felt both betrayed and embarrassed.”
  • Pushing the team to get Walter Davis - “Jordan was always trying to get the Bulls to trade for someone from his alma mater.”
  • Lobbying to trade for Buck Williams from the Nets because “Jordan didn’t particularly care for Horace Grant, ..., never believing Grant would develop into a responsible player, and lobbied hard for Williams, who was represented by Jordan’s agent, David Falk.”

This was just a quick list I threw together from memory, there are more examples in the book. Two things were constant with MJ - he wanted North Carolina guys and would fight for players represented by his agent, David Falk. The similarities with LeBron and Klutch are unavoidable. 

So to say MJ never asked for help because he was supremely confident in his superpower to take everyone 1-on-5 is absurd. Jordan was always complaining about teammates being soft, he would push them in practice and quickly dismiss everyone who didn't pass his stress test. He made demands, lobbied for players and was often frustrated with the decision Krause and Jackson made when it came to roster construction. 

For those who actually read the article to the end, I'll make it clear. I am still taking MJ over LeBron any day of the week. But to say he's different/better because he never made demands about roster constructions is just ignorant. The man did enough on the court - we don't have to make up narratives that have no basis in facts. 

So why did Jerry Krause said it? It was an olive branch to try and improve their relationship. All Krause ever wanted was for MJ to recognize his work and decisions. Sadly, Jordan never did.   


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