It’s best to start this post by saying that there’s no way these Michael Jordan stories can ever be completely verified, even if they are coming from long-time Bulls assistant coach Johnny Bach. It’s been almost 20 years since Jordan played his last game with the Bulls, so I think the statute of limitations has run out for vetting these bad boys. Plus, these showed up on the Internet as an email from a friend who had dinner with Bach. Red flags all around.
That being said, when you read these stories, you’ll agree that they’re so very Michael Jordan that they must be true. Here’s the first, which starts out innocent enough, then takes a turn for MJ ruining people pretty quickly.
Who was the better defender? Pippen was one of the best and most gifted defenders of all time. But MJ was the better defender. Michael could shut down anyone in the world for a 3 minute span. The best he’s ever seen. (I was pretty shocked by that, but man what does that tell you about MJ, unbelievable.) Jordan was the most ferocious competitor Bach has seen in all his years of basketball. Johnny said physically Jordan and Pippen were about the same as defenders. But when you add in MJ’s ruthlessness and trash talk, that put him ahead of Scottie.
When Johnny was coaching with the Hornets in 1995 they had a good team. Glen Rice, Mourning, Johnson. Series was tied at 2 and Hornets had a chance to win game 5 in Chicago. On the biggest possession of the game, Mugsy had the ball with the Hornets down 1. Jordan backed off of him and told him: “shoot it you f—ing midget.” Mugsy shot it, didn’t come close. A year later Mugsy actually told Johnny Bach that he believes that single play ruined his career. His shot never recovered.
Yikes. Like I said, no way of knowing if this is true. But I think we can all agree that it is very likely that Michael Jordan would say something along these lines. He called out his high school basketball coach in his Hall of Fame induction speech, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he used Muggsy Bogues’ height to destroy his career during a first round playoff series.
Next, how about a story of Jordan messing with Charles Barkley during the 1993 NBA Finals? Here you go.
The day before game 4 of the Bulls Suns finals with the Bulls leading the series 2-1. Michael and Charles Barkley went golfing. They played 48 holes of golf. And Michael bought Charles a $20,000 diamond earring. Johnny asked MJ, “what did you do all that for?” Michael responded, “he won’t get in my way the rest of the series, what’s $20,000 to me? Charles thinks we’re great friends. I hate that fat f—.” Jordan dropped 55 in game 4 and Barkley never touched him once.
Again, might not be true, but definitely seems true. Jordan never thought golfing before a big game was a big deal, would think nothing of spending 20 grand on something that is going to get him an edge on his competitors, and Charles Barkley did wear earrings. And I certainly wouldn’t put it past Michael Jordan to use his friendship with another player as a way to get in his head. Jeff Van Gundy accused him of doing that way back in 1997, so it would surprise me less than
jake zero percent if this happened.
For the last time, it’s impossible to know if these things really happened. There’s no way Jordan would never comment on them, let alone say whether they’re true or not, so remember that. But also remember this is Michael Jordan we’re talking about here. Literally any psychological warfare strategies that you can imagine are on the table. It’s up to you to figure out whether that’s good or not.