Michael Jordan is, without question, one of the best players the NBA has ever seen, some would say the absolute best. His talent was unquestionable and he lifted the game of basketball to previously unimaginable level. From his ball handling, to his athletic ability, to magnificent leaps through the air that made it seem like he really could fly, Jordan was a one in a million player. To watch Jordan play ball was to watch a master at his craft. Jordan’s play was the stuff legends are made of and his legend grew, even when he still playing, into something bigger than the sport of basketball. Jordan is, even now, more than just a player, he a phenomenon, someone who is always fascinating, always intriguing, and always a character larger than life.
It was, in fact, Jordan’s character that drove his personality and his game. His character, and his heart, are what enabled the now legend to overcome criticism from former coaches, that he would never amount to anything or be anything, that he had no talent for basketball. Jordan didn’t accept that and his competitive nature and big personality drove him forward, taking failure as only a stepping stone to success. In fact, many of Jordan’s famous quotes have to do with the fact that his failures are what have enabled him to be so successful. Jordan’s reach has extended way beyond the bounds of basketball and his influence as an inspiration goes beyond young players to people of all ages from all walks of life. Even former team mates have declared Jordan a hero and faithful friend and in so doing have endeared themselves to Jordan’s heart.
On the other hand, Jordan’s strong, competitive personality means that he has not always been the inspiring hero, beloved by all. Jordan has experienced his share of disputes, challenges, and foes along the way as well. Many of the people who have played against him have complained of his all-out competitiveness, as well as his selfishness and physical manner of play. On more than one occasion an opposing player has had ill feelings toward the legendary Jordan and more than one has been vociferous in their declaration of complaint against Jordan.
There are players that, during the course of his career, Jordan loved to play with, and that he is quick to compliment. These players remain close with Jordan and the admiration is always mutual. As was mentioned before, there is a flip side to that, the players that Jordan despised playing with, and whom he went out of his way to ensure they knew he was displeased with them. Let’s take a look at eight of the players Jordan hated to play with and seven of those with whom he loved to do so.
20 Hated: Charles Barkley
Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley have had a somewhat tumultuous relationship. At times, through the expanse of both of their careers, they have been friends, or at least on friendly terms. At other times they have been arch enemies, with hurt feelings, bruised egos and all.
The disgruntled feelings are said to have begun during the NBA Finals in 1993. During a round of golf, Jordan gave Barkley a pair of earrings valued at $20,000. Jordan was asked why he gifted Barkley with the earrings and Jordan replied that it was so Barkley would stay out of his way. He said he hated Barkley and that people were mistaken when they assumed the two were friends. The comment certainly ended any misconception at the time. The disputes did not end there, however. In recent times it has been acknowledged that Jordan is not talking to Barkley once again due to comments Barkley made while broadcasting. Barkley defended his comments stating that his job is to be an honest broadcaster and tell it like it sees it. He also mentioned he did compliment Jordan as well during the scope of his monologue. The hard feelings remain, nonetheless.
19 Loved: Scottie Pippen
Michael Jordan, without question, loves Scottie Pippen. Jordan and Pippen were not only teammates but have been, and are, great friends. Their loyalty to each other has made them one of the most endearing pair of athletes in the history of sports. Jordan’s affection for Pippen was clear from the first moment they played together. They just clicked. They had that certain something that makes magic on the basketball court, and magic they made. It does help tremendously that Pippen is so fiercely loyal, a trait that Jordan has a great deal of appreciation for, especially when so many people seemed to be gunning for the superstar.
Pippen was so loyal that when Jordan said he would not play on the 1992 Olympic team if Isiah Thomas was invited to play, Pippen seconded the sentiment and took a stand next to Jordan. That cemented the relationship and Jordan and Pippen have been friends ever since, on and off the court. After all, it is infinitely easier to play with a team mate you like than one you don’t.
18 Hated: Isiah Thomas
Michael Jordan came straight out and said he hated Isiah Thomas. No ifs, ands, or buts, and no room for dispute; Jordan laid all his cards on the table and just said it. His dislike for Thomas is so extreme that in 1992 Jordan reportedly said that he would not join the Olympic Team, otherwise known as the Dream Team, if the committee invited Thomas to join as well. The committee would not have, under any circumstances, chosen Thomas over Jordan and the deal was done. Jordan went on to be part of the most well-known Olympic basketball team in history and Thomas stayed home. The rumors surrounding this situation were later confirmed by Jordan himself. He also admitted he has always had a problem with Thomas and over the years they played each other the problem only grew at an exponential rate. Even now, there is no love lost between Jordan and Thomas and ill feelings remain between them.
17 Loved: Dennis Rodman
Dennis Rodman may seem like an unlikely favorite for Michael Jordan, but nonetheless, a favorite he was. Jordan loved playing with Rodman and did everything he could to help Rodman succeed and be the athlete that Rodman was capable of being. On the flip side of that Rodman did everything he could to make scoring easy for Jordan, and Jordan’s friend Pippen, which was just another reason Jordan loved playing with the gigantic character that was Rodman. Rodman had always been a bad boy, and during his time at the Detroit Pistons he wreaked a lot of havoc on competitors, including the Bulls. However, from the very first moment Rodman came to play with the Bulls, his obvious admiration, respect, and devotion to Jordan was evident, paving the way for him to build a friendship with Jordan and enable them to become one of the most successful set of team mates in the history of the NBA.
Throw Scottie Pippen in there and you had a team that was all but unstoppable, as was made evident by the amount of championships they won. Loyalty and friendship makes for a successful team, especially if Michael Jordan is the star of that team.
16 Hated: Reggie Miller
Michael Jordan has recently softened, somewhat, towards Reggie Miller but for the longest time Jordan hated Miller with an undeniable passion. Jordan and Miller were ardent rivals and constantly engaged in battle on the ball court. Jordan had this to say about Miller after a particularly brutal exchange between the two:
“It’s like chicken-fighting with a woman. His game is all this flopping-type thing. He weighs only 185 pounds, so you have to be careful, don’t touch him, or it’s a foul. On offense I use all my 215 pounds and just move him out. But he has his hands on you all the time, like a woman holding your waist. I just want to beat his hands off because it’s illegal. It irritates me.”
Miller didn’t have anything more flattering to say about Jordan at the time either. The two didn’t only fight on the court either. Jordan threw an actual punch at Miller and commented several times that playing Miller “drives me nuts”. Needless to say Reggie Miller is one player Jordan hated to play against.
15 Loved: B.J. Armstrong
B.J. Armstrong was the little guy on a big team and Michael Jordan loved him for it. Armstrong seemed to have the ability to be in the right place at the right time to get Jordan the ball and Jordan appreciated that fact tremendously. He was, much to everyone’s surprise, very complimentary of his fellow Bull and the two worked so flawlessly together that it seemed like they could read each other’s minds. Armstrong always seemed to be in awe of Jordan, as he probably should be, and followed the legend around with great devotion. Everyone Jordan went, Armstrong could be found, ball in hand, waiting to help set up the shot that would swish ever so gracefully through the net. Even off the court, Armstrong was content to be the wingman to Jordan’s epic character and was always there with an assist, no matter where they were or what time it may be. All of this only served to endear Armstrong to Jordan’s heart and make him one of his favorite people to play with.
14 Hated: Stephon Marbury
Michael Jordan does not like Stephon Marbury and it would seem, this time, he has good reason. Marbury has been one of the few people who publicly went on record criticizing the NBA legend. Marbury has not been shy in how he feels about Jordan or even why he feels that way. Jordan, has, in return expressed discontent with Marbury and made his own disparaging comments regarding his former rival and co-player. The dispute all started during the NBA lockout when Jordan sided with the owners instead of the players. While Jordan, was in fact, an owner at the time, most players and fans feel like Jordan should have sided with the players.
The decision was a complicated and controversial one and parlayed itself in a verbal feud between Jordan and Marbury that continues to this day. While most fans agreed with what Marbury was saying it was a dangerous game to play with Jordan who is very vocal about the people he dislikes, one which is Marbury.
13 Loved: Horace Grant
Horace Grant was in the right place at the right time to use the amazing talent he had to the best of his ability, a fact that made him one of Michael Jordan’s favorite people to play ball with. Jordan has not only a respect for Grant’s talent, but an appreciation for it that makes the game fun for Jordan and Grant alike. Grant came from a family of athletes, his brother even played in the NBA as well, however, it was Horace that took that chance and made sure to make it work. The Bulls player did his best to always be his best and became, alongside Jordan, a four time NBA Champion. Their ability to play flawlessly together made them a joy to watch to any lover of the game, and made the game a joy for them to play. It’s rare to have two such talents that play well together and Jordan seized the opportunity to enjoy the time he played with Grant to the fullest.
12 Hated: Vernon Maxwell
Michael Jordan is very open about the fact that had he not left basketball for baseball for a couple of years, he and the Chicago Bulls would have two more championships under their belts. The implication being of course, that the actual winners of those championships, the Houston Rockets, could not have done that had Jordan been playing basketball. The Houston Rockets, most noticeably Vernon Maxwell, took great offense to what Jordan had said. During the 90s the Bulls and the Rockets swapped championships continually, even though they never met in the playoffs.
The Rockets maintain that regardless of Jordan playing or not, they would have won the championships that they claim, including the two Jordan is adamant they would not have won. When Vernon Maxwell stated as much, he drew the wrath of Jordan who was quick to counter attack Maxwell and illustrate his point that had he been playing the Rockets would be two championships short of their current number, no matter what Maxwell thinks.
11 Loved: John Paxson
Michael Jordan always likes someone who can carry their own weight and play well as a member of a team, and one of those people was John Paxson. Paxson played alongside Jordan when the Bulls were winning Championship after championship in great style. A solid player in his own right, Paxson was not a super star, but he worked well with one. Paxson’s ability to work with Jordan smoothly made him likeable to Jordan and easier to play with. Paxson was reliable and solid and Jordan always knew if he gave him the ball Paxson would make it work. Jordan also knew that Paxson was capable of assisting like few others could and that garnered a certain respect from Jordan that grew into a fondness to play with Paxson as a teammate. Paxson also was quite content to let Jordan be the legend he was and to go along for the ride, another positive quality as far as Jordan was concerned. His lack of ego and patience on the ball court made Paxson one of Jordan’s favorite people to play with.
10 Hated: Gary Payton
Michael Jordan, can at times, be known to rub people the wrong way. Gary Payton is one of those people and when they were playing together Payton went out of his way to trash talk to the legend on a level that was nothing short of epic in its own right. Payton, also known as The Glove, took a dislike to Jordan and was not shy about saying so. Jordan, understandably, didn’t care for the trash talk and despite a respect for Payton’s game did not like the other player. Their conflict often escalated into a verbal war in which either one could come out on top on any given day. Payton even went so far as to leave Jordan off a list of what he considered to be the greatest players of all time. This fact didn’t sit well with Jordan, who even if you don’t like him is certainly one of the best, if not the best, of all time. Therefore, while Payton may dislike Jordan, it is Jordan’s dislike of Payton that really matters because, after all, Jordan is the Greatest of all time.
9 Loved: Charles Oakley
Charles Oakley is, reportedly, Michael Jordan’s favorite person he played ball with. Oakley's tough, fun, spirit served as an inspiration to Jordan and the two developed a friendship that exists to this day. Oakley was actually a Bull before Jordan was Jordan and before the Bulls were a team of legendary status. After Jordan joined the team, the two quickly became friends and learned how to work the court together in seamless fashion. Both Jordan and Oakley had incredible ball handling and both men worked well together as team members, starting off the dynasty that would become the championship winning team of the 90s. Jordan has said on more than one occasion that Oakley is still his favorite person to play with and the time he spent with Jordan playing is some of his favorite time on the court.
8 Hated: Will Perdue
Michael Jordan and Will Perdue have a mutual dislike that was epic in proportions. Regardless of the fact that the two were teammates there was no bond or mutual appreciation-there was only disgruntled frustration and anger. Jordan despised Perdue and would, if warranted, warn Perdue not to try something again when they were in practice. Perdue would, inevitably, try it again and Jordan would lose his temper. On more than one occasion this discord between them came to blows and the two would have to be physically separated. For example, during one practice the coaches instructed Perdue to run a certain play. Jordan told Perdue to not attempt to do that to him again. Perdue ignored him and ran the same play again. Jordan strolled purposely up to Perdue and clocked him with everything he had, giving Perdue a gigantic shiner. Needless to say, Jordan did not enjoy the time he spent playing with Perdue.
7 Loved: Toni Kukoc
It took Toni Kukoc and Michael Jordan a little while to click but once they did they played side by side flawlessly. Kukoc had played all over Europe before coming to the Bulls and Jordan had taken time off to play baseball. Kukoc’s history in the game was much different, having played in Europe, and all over the world. He only came to the NBA when he was bored with basketball in other places. Jordan was already a hero and a legend and had changed the face of basketball as we knew it. The two were from way different worlds and often had opposite styles of play on the court with Jordan being the much more aggressive of the two.
That being said, however, once Jordan came back to the Bulls and the team began to gel again Kukoc was right there beside Jordan, assisting the legend to further cement his legacy on the the NBA, basketball, and sports in general.
6 Hated: Muggsy Bogues
Michael Jordan made an incredible and inspiring comeback to the NBA in 1995. His talent was again undeniable and Jordan and the Chicago Bulls again went to the playoffs, charging toward what they hoped would be another championship. During this time the Bulls came up against the Charlotte Hornets, on which played Muggsy Bogues. Jordan was guarding Bogues during the game and when a critical shot for Bogues came up; Jordan fiercely guarded and blocked Bogues. Bogues, who was considerably shorter than Jordan immediately, felt the pressure. Jordan heckled Bogues and Bogues missed the shot. He would go onto to say that moment in time ruined his career and he never did get his shot back. Jordan, furious at being made the bad guy, was quick to point out that if Bogues were a better player it wouldn’t have been a problem. Bogues never did have a successful career and Jordan went on to win several more championships.