Skip to main content

Michael Jordan on how "The Jordan Rules" affected him and the Bulls


The Ringer's Bryan Curtis described it as "The Mother of All Woj Bombs." And that's exactly what "The Jordan Rules" was. But when Sam Smith published the famous book in '91, it echoed like nothing ESPN's NBA Insider has dropped since.

It's hard to imagine any sports nonfiction shaking up the NBA landscape to the same extent as Smith's chronicles of the Bulls' 90-91 NBA season. The stuff he wrote about - the make-up of locker room sanctity - gets leaked daily, and very few pieces of information today's fans find shocking. But three decades ago, it wasn't like that.

So when Chicago Tribune's writer issued 378 pages of behind-the-scenes controversies surrounding the NBA champions, focusing on the team's best player, people loved it. But its protagonist, portrayed as a ruthless, jerklike teammate, didn't.

I think a lot of misconception was coming from that book. With all the different encounters that we supposedly had or I had with certain players, you never saw the recovery from those incidents.

Michael Jordan

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

Many episodes Smith described in the book - Jordan's rebellion against the triangle, his mockery of the Bulls forward Stacey King, his fight against Will Perdue during practice - despite the Bulls collective success, made it seem the team was on the verge of downfall. But internally, guys didn't allow it to become a distraction.

If Horace (Grant) and I get into argument, hey, when we stepped on the basketball court, we were teammates. I passed him the ball; he passed me the ball, we smiled, we complement each other.

Michael Jordan

That's what allowed the Bulls to eventually become a dynasty. Controversies, no matter the initiator, are unavoidable when working your way to the top. When they are overshadowed by talent, their negative impact is postponed -- we've seen it with the Warriors. But when players have the ability to sweep them under the rug, their effect is annulled.

Out of all the controversies surrounding the greatest NBA dynasty of the '90s, "The Jordan Rules" may have been the biggest one. But its characters found the way around it.

We as a team have grown to just push the book aside and say, 'hey, we're a team that was very successful last year. Turbulent season? No. If it was a turbulent season in terms of what we've accomplished last year, please, let us have another one.' I think we're all united to the point where we will not let that book affect our personal relationships as basketball teammates.

Michael Jordan

In the short run, Michael Jordan and the Bulls did it, lifting five more Larry O'Briens in the span of seven years. Over two decades later, in one of the episodes of "The Last Dance," MJ called out Horace Grant for being Smith's main source of information for "The Jordan Rules." So, in the long run, the book caught up with the Bulls. But when it mattered the most, they never allowed it to become a distraction.


Kareem Abdul-Jabbar tried mentoring Andrew Bynum by showing him Bill Russell's defensive highlights

Bynum would start to get it, but he wasn't too interested in playing defense, in Kareem's words.

Allen Iverson wearing the iconic 76ers black jersey that the organisation might bring back

Philadelphia 76ers may bring back the black jerseys Allen Iverson made famous

The Philadelphia 76ers’ most popular jerseys in franchise history are arguably the black-themed ones that many associate with no other than Allen Iverson.

Draymond Green explains why the Warriors will win three out of four next championships

Draymond Green believes that the Golden State Warriors will win three of the next four championships

Draymond Green may be confident the Warriors can win more titles but he's also setting the bar extremely high for the organization for the next few years

Kobe Bryant on the first time he went up against Manu Ginobili

"Who's this white boy?" — Kobe Bryant on his first meeting with a San Antonio Spurs legend

Kobe Bryant believes the NBA had to adjust to this legend's unique and unorthodox playstyle.

Boston Celtics forward Larry Bird and Providence Friars head coach Rick Pitino

"I needed an offensive gimmick" — Larry Bird names the real 3-point shot instigator before Stephen Curry

Nowadays, when people knock down a 3-point shot they yell "Steph Curry." Back in the day, people blurted out "Pitino Bombino."

John Wall on why he cares more about his legacy than championship

John Wall on why he cares more about his legacy than championship: "Winning a ring is not everything"

At one point, with superteams already stacked with multiple stars, some believed that the Wizards should also do the same if they want to win a championship. But not Wal

Talk with Joe Dumars, Adam Silver makes Draymond Green realize the mistake of calling Kendrick Perkins coon

Talk with Joe Dumars, Adam Silver makes Draymond Green realize the mistake of calling Kendrick Perkins coon

New Media members should take note of things that shouldn't be said. Draymond Green realized his mistake and held himself accountable after discussing it with Joe Dumars and Adam Silver.

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.