The Last Dance documentary that showcased Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan on their way to six championships gave everyone a better insight into the competitiveness and the mindset that made Jordan one of the greatest to play the game. Before they ever started filming the documentary, Jordan was afraid people would receive a wrong impression of him, mostly because of how he interacted with his teammates.
It was known Jordan was extremely demanding, and everybody had to bring 100 percent every single day. Still, the documentary showed multiple situations where Jordan would lash out or cuss at other players if they weren’t performing on the level he wanted.
Tim Grover, who worked as Jordan’s strength and conditioning coach for most of his career, remembers a specific scene involving Jordan and his teammate Scott Burrell. Burrell was a bench player who didn’t have a lot of playing time, but he missed out on practice because he dealt with an alleged hamstring issue. That didn’t sit well with Jordan, who immediately rushed to the training room and lashed out at Burrell for not attending practice.
Once during the playoffs, on the day after a grueling overtime game, the team was ready to start practice until Michael looked around and noticed one guy was missing. “Where the hell is Burrell?” He barked. Scott Burrell, a part-time player at best, was in the training room. Michael stormed in there, where poor Scott was on the table getting treatment for an alleged hamstring issue. MJ grabbed the table- with Scott still on it- and completely flipped it over. “I just played forty-eight f***ing minutes last night! Everything’s killing me, and you have a fucking hamstring? Get your f***ing ass in the f***ing practice now!” Get on my level, or get the hell out of my way. When you’re the guy at the top, it’s on you to pull everyone else up there with you, or everything you’ve built comes crashing down.Tim Grover, via Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable
Jordan’s mindset was simple, and it entailed that everybody follows his lead when it comes to practicing and having the same type of dedication for the ultimate goal, the NBA championship. Other team members said Jordan was an a**hole, but they realized he was a great teammate who pushed everyone to their limits as time went by.
People were afraid of him. We were his teammates, and we were afraid of him, it was just fear. The fear factor of MJ was so thick. He was an asshole, he was a jerk, and he crossed the line numerous times, but as time goes on and you think about what he was actually trying to accomplish, you’re like, he was a hell of a teammate.Jud Buechler, via The Last Dance
Leaders like Jordan are a rare breed in the NBA today, and you could say the last one with the same type of leadership and approach was the late great Kobe Bryant. Today, there is also a notion players wouldn’t have the same mental toughness to go through everything Jordan put up his teammates. Tensions within the team would probably flair, which would affect the chemistry, and, surprisingly, it didn’t happen with the Bulls, but just the contrary. It enabled them to be the best team in NBA history, and if you ask all of them, they wouldn’t want to change anything about that experience.