Michael Jordan is still regarded as the greatest NBA star of all time and arguably the greatest athlete of all time. The shooting guard brought style, toughness and overall greatness to the game to bring the sport to a new level. LeBron James’ popularity and accolades gives him an outside chance to pass Jordan depending on how his career ends, but Jordan still has a strong fan base fighting off James at every chance. It shows just how much of an impact Jordan left on the fans that witnessed his iconic career.
One of the more interesting things about Jordan as an athlete is how he interacted with his teammates. Both the peak years with the Chicago Bulls and his regrettable stint with the Washington Wizards opened up the stories of how he dealt with various situations. Stories have leaked on multiple occasions for the history of Jordan’s relationships with his peers. Some of his teammates felt his wrath in aggressive fashion and others were tight with him. Jordan’s fascinating personality is part of his magic in becoming a once in a generation Superstar. That extended to life for his teammates working along him. We'll take a look at fifteen things you didn’t know about Michael Jordan’s relationship with his teammates.
14 Punched Steve Kerr In The Face
Steve Kerr is currently the head coach of the Golden State Warriors with three years of dominance in his first three seasons in the role. Before Kerr was one of the best coaches in the NBA, he made his name in the NBA. Most 90s fans remember Kerr’s time as a sharp shooter on the Chicago Bulls drilling a few clutch shots thanks to Michael Jordan trusting the point guard.
Things didn’t always go well for Kerr when working alongside Jordan. During training camp, Jordan punched Kerr right in the face for disagreeing with him about a play. Kerr claimed he stood up to Jordan following the incident and it earned his respect. Jordan apparently wanted Kerr to show fire by not taking the hit and refusing to take it quietly.
13 Gave Black Eye To Will Perdue
Another teammate to feel the punch of Michael Jordan was Will Perdue. Despite being over 7 feet tall, Perdue wasn’t exempt from Jordan’s violence. Horace Grant revealed the story in a radio interview when asked if Jordan only picked on the smaller and weaker teammates. According to Grant, Jordan didn’t care about that one bit as he went after the giant Perdue.
Jordan punched Perdue in the face multiple times for running an illegal pick on him in practice. Grant confirmed that Perdue was sporting a black eye in the days following the incident. Perdue never struck back due to being professional and also because his teammates told him not to risk Jordan’s health. Jordan reportedly yelled at Perdue to start setting picks like that in actual games against the other team.
12 Conned Scottie Pippen Out Of Money
One of the few passions of Michael Jordan has always been gambling. Despite being among the richest athletes alive, Jordan is known for being quite cheap. Gambling is a rare exception where he will spend big money for the thrill of it. Jordan also tried to con others out of money whenever he could get an advantage in the wagers.
Scottie Pippen was the target of Jordan one season when the Chicago Bulls would have animated bull races on the Jumbotron. Jordan would watch the videos before games and trick Pippen into betting against him. Of course, Jordan already knew who was winning and Pippen had no clue. This was just one of many stories that show Jordan’s cutthroat mentality for winning even when it came to silly things.
11 Not Good Enough To Wear Jordans?
Richard Hamilton is remembered for being one of the major reasons the Detroit Pistons upset the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2004 NBA Finals. Hamilton had a very impressive NBA career, but Michael Jordan didn’t think he had anything special whatsoever going for him. Jordan was the partial owner and President of the Washington Wizards after he retired from the Chicago Bulls dynasty.
Hamilton would see his hero Jordan join him as a teammate when MJ decided to return to the court for the Wizards. However, things were ugly between the two with Jordan showing no respect for Hamilton. At one point, Jordan told Hamilton that he wasn’t good enough to wear Jordan’s trademark shoes. Jordan eventually traded away Hamilton for Jerry Stackhouse in a move that helped Hamilton become a star and the Wizards would further fail. Score one for Rip here.
10 Who Was His Favorite Teammate?
Michael Jordan did not share a bond or form a friendship with the majority of his teammates. It was all business on the court with Jordan wanting to win more than anything. Everything else was secondary including having fun with his teammates off the court. One of the very few NBA players to become a genuine friend of Jordan was Charles Oakley.
The toughness and gritty play of Oakley endeared him to Jordan. Oakley was also known as an enforcer that definitely protected Jordan on numerous occasions when the play got chippy. Jordan and Oakley remained friends to this very day proving their bond was beyond the game of basketball. In prior interviews, Jordan went as far as to name Oakley as his overall favorite teammate to play with.
9 Sabotaged Bill Cartwright
Michael Jordan didn’t react kindly to the Chicago Bulls choosing to part ways with his friend Charles Oakley. Bill Cartwright was the replacement for Oakley and Jordan made life tough for his new teammate. Despite Cartwright having nothing to do with Oakley being gone, Jordan treated him poorly to send a statement to Bulls management.
Jordan would verbally obliterate Cartwright in practice often calling him “Medical Bill” as an insult about his prior injuries in the NBA. One of the lamest things Jordan did during his career was throwing intentional bad passes to Cartwright in practice making him look bad. Cartwright developed the reputation of having bad hands thanks to this, but he did help contribute to Jordan’s Bulls winning three rings during his tenure.
8 Hated Dennis Rodman For His Wrestling
Dennis Rodman was a huge wild card for the Chicago Bulls during the final three seasons of Michael Jordan’s tenure there. The great defense, superb rebounding and overall toughness of Rodman made him the perfect player to add to the Chicago dynasty behind Jordan and Scottie Pippen. Rodman however had his own unique personality that saw him make a few questionable decisions.
One of the more surprising things to ever happen in the NBA was Rodman skipping practice during the NBA Finals to attend and sometimes wrestle on WCW shows. Jordan was reportedly not thrilled with his teammate ditching practice for the biggest games in the sport in favor of having fun with Hulk Hogan in a wrestling ring. Rodman never budged and apparently didn’t care about the criticism of Jordan and others.
7 Instigated Lifelong Rivalry Between B.J. Armstrong and John Paxson
B.J. Armstrong and John Paxson were both valuable contributors to the first Chicago Bulls three-peat in the early 90s. The played the same position and would compete for minutes, including the late game situations. Michael Jordan apparently was the manipulator in creating a rivalry between the two that would take place during practice and warm-ups.
Armstrong would apparently go extra hard during dribbling warm-ups and pre-game shoot-around in attempt to make Paxson look bad. Phil Jackson apparently grew tired of it and called out Armstrong for being selfish. Both men ended up helping Chicago win. Jordan may have known what he was doing all along by pitting them against each other to improve their play. They still hated each other following retirement as Armstrong apparently left his position in the Bulls organization due to Paxson being the GM of the team.
7. Humiliated Rodney McCray
Rodney McCray is not a household name but he was a solid NBA player for his time. An average of 16 points and 8 rebounds during his best season sowed he could contribute to a team. The Chicago Bulls signed him for one season in 1992-1993 and Michael Jordan hated him. Jordan continued his reputation of being a jerk in practice by singling out McCray for whatever reason.
A former teammate from the time frame anonymously spilled the beans that Jordan would go after McCray in practice. The word “loser” would frequently be used from Jordan to break down the confidence of McCray. Chicago would only play McCray about 15 minutes per game and he chose to retire after that season at 32 years old. Jordan humiliating you would likely make you want to leave your job too.
6 Allowed Scottie Pippen In His Home
Many of the stories so far are about negative relationships Michael Jordan had with his teammates. There are however a few positive ones about his respect and trust of a select handful of them. Scottie Pippen and Jordan don’t appear to be best friends these days, but they clearly shared a bond as the Superstar duo winning six NBA Championships together for the Chicago Bulls.
Jordan showed the ultimate sign of respect for Pippen by inviting him to his home. This was one thing that Jordan wanted to keep private. The vast majority of teammates would never get invited to hang out with Jordan. According to MJ, he often had Pippen come over as a rare exception to work out and just chat about life together.
5 Bullied Teenage Kwame Brown
Kwame Brown will always be synonymous with Michael Jordan due to their time together on the Washington Wizards. Jordan’s first major decision in Washington was to select Brown out of high school with the top overall pick in the 2001 NBA Draft. The teenager struggled to adapt to the professional basketball world and Jordan let him know it.
According to multiple sources, Jordan would curse out Brown in practice every day going as far as to use homophobic slurs against him that would become part of his routine. Brown turned into one of the biggest busts in NBA history. You have to wonder if the greatest player of all time and his basketball hero breaking him down before his 19th birthday is the biggest reason for such a disappointing career.
4 1992 Olympics From Hell
The 1992 Olympics is remembered for the “Dream Team” of incredible NBA Superstars working together to win gold for the United States in basketball. One footnote from the summer games was Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen going out of their way to torment Toni Kukoc on the court when facing Croatia. The Chicago Bulls tried to lowball Pippen during contract negotiations when drafting the rights to the foreign league playing Kukoc.
Both Jordan and Pippen held a grudge over this and took it out on Kukoc when facing off. They went after Kukoc every single play and held him to just four points in the blowout victory for the United States. The sad part is Kukoc didn’t even negatively impact Pippen’s contract as he continued playing overseas for a few more years allowing the Bulls to pay Scottie. Still, Jordan wanted to embarrass him to teach the Bulls a lesson.
3 Toni Kukoc Eventually Earned His Respect
Toni Kukoc made the jump to the NBA just one year after the humiliation in the Olympics to join the Chicago Bulls since they owned his rights. The addition of Kukoc would see him remain on the team for the rest of the decade. Both Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen eventually warmed up to him after seeing him on their team every day.
Kukoc was one of the more important pieces to the Bulls’ second three-peat in the late 90s. With an average of 13 points per game each of those seasons, Kukoc was the third scoring option behind Jordan and Pippen helping them out in their later years. The way to win Jordan’s heart is to help contribute to the team collecting more rings and Kukoc did just that.
2 Never Spoke To Dennis Rodman Off Court
Dennis Rodman was unlike any other teammate Michael Jordan ever played with. They were complete opposites. Jordan’s entire life was about being obsessed with becoming the greatest of all time and winning rings every year. Rodman didn’t seem to care much about anything but had overwhelming talent that made a difference. Both stars helped bring the three-peat in the late 90s to the Chicago Bulls.
Despite winning three titles together, Jordan and Rodman didn’t have much of a relationship. Jordan reportedly never spoke to Rodman off the court and their entire relationship was professionally during games and at practice. Rodman claims he has never once had a conversation with Jordan off the court. Given the clash in personalities, they may have gotten into a fist fight if they tried to socialize in a personal setting.
1 The Scottie Pippen - Tracy McGrady That Never Was
The Chicago Bulls almost changed the entire landscape of their franchise with a potential massive trade in 1997. Jerry Krause was looking to trade Scottie Pippen to the Toronto Raptors for rookie Tracy McGrady. Chicago viewed McGrady as the next big Superstar that could succeed Michael Jordan in the long term and help contribute to wins right away if playing alongside Jordan.
However, Jordan showed loyalty to Pippen and demanded the Bulls shut down any trade talks. Jordan held all the power as the biggest name in sports. The power was used here to make sure Pippen was kept in town for one more season with him. Chicago won another NBA Championship and fell apart the following year without Jordan and Pippen. As great as McGrady would have been on the Bulls, Chicago getting one more memorable ring was worth listening to Jordan standing up for his teammate.