Michael Jordan’s unparalleled competitiveness propelled him toward greatness, but it also came with a brutal edge. Believing that victory comes at a cost, he tested the mental fortitude of his teammates and prepared them for the challenges ahead.
While his methods led many to excel, others failed under pressure and were unable to meet his high expectations. Jordan’s unique approach, while effective in winning championships, occasionally exposed the challenges of his relentless pursuit of excellence.
Michael Jordan’s competitive nature
As revealed during his Naismith Hall of Fame speech, Michael Jordan reiterated that he is known for being a demanding teammate. He is fiercely competitive and pressures his teammates to live up to his standards.
Some viewed his approach as harsh, which created a divisive atmosphere within the team, but Jordan’s pursuit of greatness sometimes came at the expense of camaraderie.
Here are some of the players Michael Jordan booked during his time playing with him (in no particular order):
1. Break Kwame Brown’s confidence
Kwame Brown was once a promising NBA talent, but toward the end of his career, he was labeled a bust. His struggles began when he was selected first overall in the 2001 NBA draft by the Washington Wizards, of whom Michael Jordan was general manager.
According to the Washington Post, Jordan repeatedly used profanity, including homophobic slurs, while speaking to Brown. At one point, Jordan made young Brown cry in front of his teammates. It was also reported that Jordan did this to most of his Wizards teammates.
4. Disrespect Robert Parrish
Robert Parish was one of the Big Three of the Boston Celtics in the 1980s, which included Larry Bird and Kevin McHale. Towards the end of his career, “The Chief” played alongside Jordan in the 1996-97 season, getting another chance to win a championship ring.
While most of his teammates were intimidated by Jordan, Parish was not and stood up against Jordan. At one point, Jordan tried to break down Parrish and said he would kick his ass. The former Celtic was taking it all in stride until Jordan realized his tactics weren’t working for him.
3. Slam Steve Kerr
Before The Last Dance documentary aired, this was just an unconfirmed report. Steve Kerr spoke out against Jordan’s views during a scuffle, resulting in Jordan getting punched in the face. But to his credit, Jordan later called Kerr and apologized.
Still, it was a defining moment for Kerr, one that earned him Jordan’s respect. This was proven when Jordan trusted Kerr to hit the game-winning shot in the 1997 NBA Finals against the Utah Jazz.
4. Torturing Bill Cartwright
The Chicago Bulls traded Charles Oakley to the New York Knicks for Bill Cartwright, something Michael Jordan wasn’t happy with. When the center came to practice with the Bulls, Jordan insulted Cartwright, calling him “Medical Bill.”
Cartwright was such a torture to be around Jordan that he once told teammates not to pass him the ball. However, Cartwright’s contributions made him an integral part of the Chicago Bulls’ first three-peat in the 1990s.
5. Destroyed Rodney McCray’s confidence
Rodney McCray was a seasoned NBA veteran who decided to team up with Michael Jordan in the early 1990s to compete for a championship. Despite his past success, as practices intensified, he received Jordan-like treatment, at one point being called a “loser.” Jordan’s taunting affected McRae’s performance on the team. Nonetheless, our goal is to win the championship.