Michael Jordan is a great basketball player. He may very well be the greatest basketball player of all-time and perhaps the best athlete to compete in any sport. This much is true and, quite frankly, undeniable. Jordan did things on the court that nobody would have predicted a basketball player could ever do. He constantly found a way to build the legend of Michael Jordan until it almost became impossible to separate the myth of Jordan from the man even though we all witnessed what he accomplished. There is no taking away Jordan’s accomplishments nor any real way to diminish them.
However, just because you are a great basketball player doesn’t mean that you are the best person. Accomplishments on the court don’t wash away shortcomings elsewhere. Michael Jordan may be a great basketball player, but he’s a pretty terrible human being. That competitiveness and drive that made Jordan so great on the court also made him a pretty hard person to get along with in real life. Still, there are some moments of Jordan being a bad person that stands out from the usual stories of pranks, bets, and public humiliations. These are the 15 horrible things that Michael Jordan has actually done.
15. Not Letting his Family Come To Playoff Games
There’s a little loose talk surrounding this one, but enough loose talk going around about this one to make it worthy of inclusion. Michael Jordan was a guy who liked to have fun. There’s no denying that. As we’ll see later on this list, Jordan also wouldn’t let something like playoffs or NBA Finals games ruin his good times. That being the case, he certainly wasn’t going to let his family stand in his way. Rumor has it that Jordan was usually pretty adamant that his family not come to major playoff and Finals games.
While the usual excuses like needing to focus or not wanting to interrupt their schedules were used, many people suspect the real reason has do do with Jordan’s desire to sleep around, party, and gamble as much as he’d like.
14. Staying Out All Night Gambling During the Playoffs
Jordan’s legendary love of gambling reportedly rivals his love of basketball. While some people go so far as to say that Jordan’s gambling habits – and subsequent debts – may have been the cause of his father’s death, we’re not going to speculate on that conspiracy here. What we do know is that his love of gambling almost costs the Bulls their 1993 Easter Conference Championship victory. While playing the Knicks in New York, Michael decided to hit up the Atlantic City casinos and stay out all night. The Knicks ended up winning the first two games and Michael never played worse. When Michael was finally taken away from the AC blackjack tables, he managed to lead the Bulls to yet another big series win.
13. Bribing Charles Barkley and Pretending To Be His Friend
There are some Michael Jordan stories that skirt the line between horrible and awesome. This is certainly one of them. The same year that Jordan spent the Eastern Conference Finals in Atlantic City, he decided to become friendly with Charles Barkley during the NBA Finals. The problem there was that Jordan was facing Barkley’s Suns in the Finals that year. Nevertheless, Jordan spent a lot of time gambling, playing golf, and partying with Barkley. Jordan reportedly even bought him a $20,000 diamond earring. After the fact, Jordan stated that he did all this so Barkley wouldn’t be as eager to cover him during the Finals. He even said that he would never really be friends with that “Fat ****” and that $20,000 meant nothing to him.
12. Suing a Local Grocery Story For $8.9 Million Over $4 Worth of Coupons
Now, $20,000 may not mean much to Michael Jordan, but apparently, Mike can get pretty riled up over coupons. Around the time that Michael Jordan gave his Hall of Fame speech (we’ll get to that in a second), a grocery store in Chicago decided to run a promotion in which they handed out coupons for $2 off steak that congratulated Jordan and included the number 23. Reportedly, only 2 of the $2 coupons were ever redeemed. However, Jordan caught wind of this and sued the grocery store for using his name and affiliated logos. While Jordan’s explanation that he worked hard to make his name mean something and he wanted to protect that does make some sense, it seemed unbelievably petty of Mike to ever follow through with the lawsuit.
11. Spitting On Cinnamon Rolls So Nobody Else Can Have Them
Remember when we mentioned that Michael Jordan was petty? We don’t think you can ever fully appreciate just how petty the dude is for the simple fact that most people could never imagine caring about the stuff that Jordan seems to care about. For instance, Jordan really likes cinnamon rolls. In fact, he used to have a private chef that would sometimes travel with him who specialized in making cinnamon rolls. As you might imagine, Jordan also had a team of bodyguards who would follow him around. Now, a normal person might do something like offer some cinnamon rolls to the people paid to protect him. Not Jordan. No, Jordan saw his bodyguards eyeing the fresh cinnamon rolls and decided to spit on all of them so they wouldn’t have the chance to eat them.
10. Disrespecting Two United States Presidents Over Golf
For most people, getting the chance to play golf with most presidents would be the kind of occasion that they treat like a once in a lifetime occurrence. As such, they would be on their best behavior and act relatively civil. Not Michael Jordan. In the ‘90s, he had the chance to play golf against Bill Clinton. Jordan reportedly trash talked Clinton the entire match. Now, this trash talk started as pretty friendly banter, but apparently soon escalated as Clinton refused to take some of Jordan’s bets.
Years later, Jordan revealed that he hadn’t had the chance to play against President Obama but wouldn’t want to anyway because Obama was a “hack golfer.” Obama responded by saying that he thinks he’d probably be as good as Mike if he also had the time to play twice a day for the last 15 years, and noted that Jordan’s time might be better spent helping the Bobcats.
9. Michael Jordan Bet a Girl’s Virginity Over a Game of Dice
There’s no shortage of Michael Jordan bets on this list, but this one is in a league of its own. In the ‘90s, an MTV host (or VJ) named Kennedy had the privilege of hanging out with Michael Jordan and Russell Simmons at the Bowery Bar in NYC. At some point during the meal, Jordan randomly pulled out a pair of dice. His offer to Kennedy was plain: they would each roll and if Jordan got the higher number, Kennedy would have to come back to his hotel room. Kennedy states that she was a virgin at the time and wanted no part of this. Upon informing Jordan of this, Jordan assured her that was okay because he had a wife and didn’t want to deal with her. Instead, he offered Kennedy some Nets tickets.
8. Threatening to Beat Up Robert Parish
Long before he was an official NBA Hall of Fame inductee, Robert Parish was an all-around great player and genuine class act. Parish helped lead the Boston Celtics to three NBA Championships in the ‘80s with his stellar Center play. During his final season in the NBA, Parish decided to sign with Chicago in the hopes of winning one more championship. He did, but he had to put up with a lot of Michael Jordan along the way. Simply put, Parish didn’t think he had to respect Parish’s veteran status and still saw him as the enemy.
During the team’s early practices, Jordan let Parish know that he didn’t automatically have his respect and that Parish shouldn’t step to him because Jordan would beat him up. The 7 foot, 230-lb Parish informed Jordan that he didn’t have a chance of beating him up. Jordan got the message and backed off.
7. Bullying Bill Cartwright Because The Bulls Traded Away Charles Oakley
Bill Cartwright may not be a Hall of Fame player like Robert Parrish, but the guy is a bonafide legend who helped the Bulls when three championships. Cartwright gave Chicago an anchor at center the likes of which they’d never really had before when they won their first three championships during the Jordan era. Of course, Jordan didn’t really think they needed Cartwright. Instead, Jordan was angry at the Bulls management for deciding to send his good friend Charles Oakley to the Knicks. Jordan reportedly never got past the fact that the Bulls sent Oakley away. As such, he took it out on Cartwright by treating him poorly – or outright bullying him – during the team’s practices. Years later, after Cartwright helped the Bulls win multiple championships, Jordan still treated him like trash.
6. Reducing Kwame Brown to Tears
Kwame Brown is generally thought of as a bust with pretty good reason. He was a guy that was expected to come into the league and absolutely dominate from the Center position. He went so far as to tell Wizards coach Doug Collins that he would never regret drafting him. Collins, the Wizards, and then Wizards president Michael Jordan went on to draft Brown. Brown was thrilled to play basketball for his idol, Jordan, but soon found that reality was far from his dream. Jordan rode Brown constantly during practices and even in Brown’s free time. He once invited Brown to his home and berated him to the point that Brown was reduced to tears. During this encounter, Jordan even went so far as to call Brown a “Flaming *******.”
5. Jordan Cheats At Cards Against An Elderly Lady
Jordan’s time playing for the Bulls, of course, made him a legend, but you can’t overlook Jordan’s time in North Carolina. In college, Jordan caught the attention of millions who suddenly recognized that the prolific scorer might just shake-up the fabric of the league. While playing for North Carolina, Jordan shared a room with Buzz Peterson. The two got along so well that Peterson went on to be the best man in Jordan’s wedding. One time, Peterson invited Jordan over to play cards with him and Peterson’s mother. Everything was going fine until Peterson’s mother went to go to the bathroom, and Jordan – without a trace of humor, mind you – looked at her cards. Mind you, there was no money or additional stakes on the line.
4. Jordan’s Obsession With Pippen’s Privates
There’s going to be no delicate way to get around this subject. According to all reports, Scottie Pippen is a very well endowed individual. Reports include statements from locker room reporters, fellow players, and even Madonna. That last source is particularly amusing as Madonna once said that she wouldn’t hook up with Jordan because Pippen was bigger. Now, in case you didn’t know, Jordan has a special competitive rivalry with Pippen. As such, this is one defeat he refused to suffer regardless of the fact there was nothing he could realistically do about it. Years later, though, Jordan, Horace Grant, and Pippen were overheard at a game talking about a bet on which one of their infant sons had the biggest member. It was agreed that Pippen’s was still the winner.
3. Charging $15,000 for a Photo
If you grew up during the Michael Jordan era, there’s a good chance that Jordan still possess a kind of aura that elevates him above even other celebrities. Michael Jordan was just magic on the court in his prime. There was nobody quite like him and he played with and against some all-time great players. Well, one person who felt that Michael Jordan was magic was the rapper Chamillionaire. In fact, Chamillionaire got the chance to meet Jordan at a party. He went up and asked if he could get a picture even though he expected Jordan might say no. Jordan not only told him no, he told them he isn’t “taking pictures with a n****.” He then told Chamillionaire that he would take a picture with him if Chamillionaire spent $15,000 on one of his old jerseys.
2. Jordan Is The World’s Worst Tipper
Generally speaking, you can tell what kind of a person someone is based on how they treat waiters, bartenders, and anyone else in the service industry. A normal person knows that these are real people who are just there to help. Michael Jordan looks down on these people from a great height. Simply put, Jordan is a historically awful tipper. While playing cards with Wayne Gretzky in Vegas, Jordan once tipped a waitress a $5 chip for bringing them drinks all night. Gretzky stopped the waitress, removed the $5 tip, grabbed one of the many $100 chips on Jordan’s side of the table, and gave it to her instead, before berating Jordan. Charles Barkley has also stated that he’s had to write waitresses checks and apologize to them after they’ve waited on Jordan.
1. Michael Jordan Turns his Hall of Fame Speech Into An Ego Trip
The reason this is number one isn’t necessarily because it’s the most horrible and unforgivable of all of Jordan’s actions, but because it’s the one story that really summarizes what kind of person Michael Jordan is. When Jordan was inducted into the Hall of Fame courtesy of a voting landslide, nobody was surprised. Some people went so far as to say the rules should have been changed so he went into the Hall of Fame sooner. Jordan’s speech included a hint of Jordan’s greatness, but it featured a lot more of Jordan’s ego. From acknowledging his family only to tell his sons that he feels sorry for them to calling out everyone he’s ever had the slightest grudge with, Jordan turned the Hall of Fame into a monument to his pettiness.
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