Luc Longley was one of the few people who witnessed Michael Jordan’s intensity in person. According to the Australian basketball legend, Chicago Bulls’ practice sessions were as intense as the real games. In addition, they would go on for hours on end until Jordan got what he wanted.
Longley gave an example of how the Bulls’ practices got so serious. As for one, Jordan defended pick-and-rolls the way he did in an actual game. And this involved getting physical, clawing, and fighting your assigned man. The sheer intensity wasn’t the only thing that’ll exhaust you to death. According to Longley, the Bulls’ practices went on without an end in sight because Jordan didn’t want to stop playing until his team won.
“We ended up having long practices because... If Michael’s squad got beaten in practice, then he would have to have another game until he would win. He was really into it,” Longley said, per Aussie Hoopla.
The sports documentary “The Last Dance” supports Longley’s claims. There were numerous clips of Jordan talking to his teammates with acid eyes. Scott Burrell was one of his favorite targets. The likes of Ron Harper and Toni Kukoc also got a verbal beating from Jordan. Even Jerry Krause, their controversial general manager, did not escape Jordan’s wrath.
These clips showed us the tremendous price they had to pay to be called champions. From the looks of it, the physical aspect was the easiest part. Maintaining your composure amid Jordan’s verbal assaults was the most difficult part of practice.
The NBA gave us tons of stories about practice. Jordan himself once called a Team USA scrimmage the best game he ever played. Of course, there’s the infamous one involving Allen Iverson who wasn’t too keen on attending practice. The man admitted that he didn’t like lifting weights because they were too heavy.
The most recent crazy practice story involved a major scuffle between Draymond Green and Jordan Poole of the Golden State Warriors. It was a big issue when the video came out. But former and current NBA players quickly fanned the smoke, noting that these things regularly occur within teams, especially those vying for the title.
We’ll likely hear more practice stories in the next few years. Maybe some LeBron James narratives would go well with the Kobe Bryant ones. Maybe a fresh Iverson story would mushroom one day, contradicting everything we know about the great guard and his annoyance with scrimmages.