Commonly known as the greatest basketball player of all time, Michael Jordan was a cosmic player to watch, one of enormous athleticism. His popularity was not due to him just being a great player, Michael Jordan invented ball movements, various slam dunk routines, offensive plays, and a whole slew of new basketball verbiage necessary to describe moves made that were never witnessed previously. New defensive strategies were invented in order to hinder devastating talent that often placed opposing players in awe of what they were seeing. Michael Jordan kept millions of NBA fans drawn to the game while in the midst of a period where then ticket sellers like Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were on their journey toward the Great Basketball Sunset. Not that there were not any great players left to enthuse the crowds (a la Isaiah Thomas and Karl Malone). The Larry Bird/Magic Johnson feud was known to wake basketball fans up from what was once known as a boring league.
NBA fans were not just able to stay awake but expected to be entertained for years to come when watching what this human being was capable of doing after being unleashed on court. And no one can forget those six championships his Chicago Bulls won after finally being able to get over the hump of Isaiah Thomas and Bill Laimbeer of The Motor City Pistons. There was also the Boston Celtics carried by Larry Bird and Robert Parrish and the Los Angeles Lakers led by an All-Star of players like Magic Johnson and James Worthy. All three teams posed themselves as an annual nemesis to Jordan’s journey towards the Larry O’brien NBA Championship Trophy. But as he is famously known, Jordan squashed each goliath one by one on his way toward winning an unprecedented 6 NBA championship trophies.
As famous as Michael Jordan is for being a great basketball player he is less known for playing the role as an antagonist. He often disgruntled not just for his opponents but some of his teammates as well. Many NBA players held ill feelings towards Michael Jordan. A lot of these ill wills were birthed from matters besides the many physical skirmishes fans witnessed against famous rivals like the Pistons and the Knicks. Some of those battles occurred behind the cameras.
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15 Loved: B.J. Armstrong
Everybody remembers B.J. Armstrong. He was that tiny character one would often find tirelessly following Michael Jordan around the court (kind of like a puppy dog if you will). He reminded fans of their school buddy’s little brother who always tagged along with them whenever playing pickup games, but boy he could play. It’s just that most fans do not recall seeing him shine on the court without big brother Michael by his side waiting to receive his passes before making one of those many effortless swishes or drives to the basket. Jordan obviously made Armstrong famous. But does one ever wonder what if? What if this scrawny guard began his NBA basketball career playing on a professional league team without Mike? Who knows how it would have turned out.
14 Hated: Richard Hamilton
A likely underrated group of players who hated playing with Michael Jordan was the Washington Wizards. Jordan made several hateful comments towards his Bulls teammates but the bruises bursting from those were often soothed by all the winning and championships. The Washington Wizards going 37-45 in each of the two seasons Michael Jordan played for them were not so forgiving. One of his then teammates, future All Star Richard Hamilton, was asked how he felt about a nickname created for the team by a national television broadcaster, “Michael Jordan and the Jordanaires.” Richard Hamilton first replied by shaking his head, then said, “nobody on this team considers himself a Jordanaire.” Richard Hamilton obviously felt insulted; shows that not every young player idolized Air Jordan.
13 Loved: Steve Kerr
Steve Kerr is one of several NBA players who profited from playing next to the greatest basketball player of all time. He locked down Game 6 for the Bulls during the 1998 NBA Finals versus the Karl Malone led Utah Jazz with a last second game winning shot. While double teaming Michael Jordan the Jazz left an unsuspected Steve Kerr wide open for an easy pass and a seemingly easy shot keeping them from winning a crucial game in the series. The Chicago Bulls won the game and went on to win the entire series four games to three. These days, Steve Kerr can be seen coaching the super team out in Oakland; the Golden State Warriors. Away from his playing career, Kerr has already experienced championship success as an NBA coach, and looks to continue that trend.
12 Hated: Steve Kerr
Yes, we just told you that Steve Kerr loved playing alongside Michael Jordan in Chicago but that wasn't always the case with these teammates. Though famous for winning with Michael Jordan, Steve Kerr is also known for being involved in a violent skirmish with his teammate as well. It occurred during a Bull’s 1995 pre-season scrimmage while in practice. Both then teammates traded verbal blows toward each other while playing a very intense contest. Jordan still held ill feelings towards a recent series loss to the Orlando Magic. He was trash talking Kerr. Steve trashed talked back standing up to Michael, being hell bent on not backing down. One throws a forearm the other returns with punches, in the end Steve ends up with a black eye.
11 Loved: Horace Grant
Being a four time NBA Champion it is pretty obvious why this one time talented professional ball player would be mentioned as one of the eight players who loved playing with high scoring Mike. Just look at Horace Grant's twin brother, Harvey. He was just as talented a ball player as Horace but happened to play for a nobody team, the Washington Bullets alongside players like Bernard King, Jeff Malone, and Pervis Ellison. These were decent players known for their talented individual play, especially during those days before players like Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, and Dwayne Wade came on board and began grabbing every fans attention. But Bernard King and Jeff Malone were no Scottie Pippen. They were no Dennis Rodman and they did not play for a coach who was even nearly as talented as Phil Jackson. Horace Grant is a great basketball player but his career would have likely ended up similar to Harvey without an All-Star to constantly provide for him all those easy layups and put-ins.
10 Hated: Will Perdue
Michael Jordan’s highly talented basketball skills was always built around a determinedly fierce desire to win and a very rigid work habit. Such doggedness enabled him to grow into one of the greatest basketball players of all time but often turned some players off. One of those players was Will Perdue. Oh, Will was a good teammate. He won three championships with the Chicago Bulls as Michael Jordan’s back-up center to Bill Cartwright. Unfortunately even with all the championships the two did not always get along. One obvious example of their sour relationship was displayed during a team practice. Head Coach Phil Jackson always ran very physical practices. During one such practice Phil Jackson directed the teams to execute a specific play when Will set an illegal pick on Michael Jordan. Dunking Jordan warned Will not to repeat the foul. The team ran the play two more times and Will Perdue set an illegal pick on Michael Jordan again. All of a sudden, Kapow!! Will could be seen with his back on the floor of the court. Michael Jordan pummeled his then teammate.
9 Loved: John Paxson
Similar to B.J. Armstrong and Horace Grant, John PaxSon is another player whom no one would mention if he would not have played alongside flying Mike. Now John PaxSon was a good player. One may even place him close to being a great player when pointing out all those long range jump shots he made while playing with the Bulls. But like Armstrong, one has to note that he was making those shots while receiving passes from the best basketball player of all time. And many of those successful drives and open jumpers were made while opposing teams were double teaming his superstar teammate leaving him wide open. Who;s to say that PaxSon could have been such a solid player with any other team. Paxson, like so many other, relied on Michael Jordan.
8 Hated: Bill Cartwright
Bill Cartwright played the role of a hardworking, dependable, tall center for Michael Jordan. One can arguably say that the Chicago Bulls may not have beaten top opponents like the LA Lakers, Detroit Pistons, New York Knicks, and Portland Trailblazers without his help. Somebody had to block out hard banging centers like Kevin Duckworth and Vlade Divac. But Bill Cartwright did not receive a warm welcome from Michael Jordan after joining the team during the summer of '88 when he was traded by his then former team the New York Knicks for star power forward Charles Oakley. Michael Jordan loved playing alongside Charles Oakley. He hated seeing him leave. Bill Cartwright felt the brunt of Michael’s displeasure, receiving constant name calling during practice and being thrown difficult passes in order to spotlight what Michael Jordan always referred to as Bill’s bad hands. Yes Cartwright won three championships with Michael Jordan but would hardly refer to him as his buddy.
7 Loved: Toni Kukoc
Toni Kukoc, known as basketball’s Pink Panther, began playing in the NBA after experiencing much success and stardom as a professional basketball player in Europe. After dominating several European titles including the Euroleague, the European championships, the Italian Championship, and the Italian Cup, Toni Kukoc got bored and ventured out into the NBA. Luckily he was drafted by the Chicago Bulls. Even though he delayed joining the team by a couple of years his wait was rewarded by playing with one of the most conquering teams in the NBA’s history. During the first two of his seven years playing with the Chicago Bulls Michael Jordan, happened to be on vacation playing baseball in Alabama. When Michael Jordan came back to his senses by rejoining the Bulls, the team came back roaring. The Bulls featured Toni Kukoc playing side by side with Michael Jordan and the success continued.
6 Hated: Rodney McCray
Rodney McCray joined the Chicago Bulls in 1992 after undergoing a thrilling run of ten years playing hoops for the Houston Rockets, Sacramento Kings, and the Dallas Mavericks. In 1992-93 Rodney McCray was provided the privilege of playing for the defending champions Chicago Bulls with the honorable Michael Jordan. Most hoopsters would look toward such a pairing as a tremendous opportunity. But Michael Jordan though highly talented was also maliciously competitive, so much so that he was known to tear both opponents and teammates to shreds. Poor Rodney happened to be a victim in such a shredding during a team scrimmage where the two then teammates where opposing each other. Michael Jordan repeatedly screamed at Rodney’s face calling him “loser” stating he will always be one. The vivacious verbal attack struck the forward’s confidence hard, and seemingly affected his play.
5 Love: Charles Oakley
Charles Oakley did not win any championships with Michael Jordan but most of those who personally knew both of these men would agree that they got along real well. In fact, in terms of pure friendship Charles Oakley was likely the teammate Michael Jordan liked the best. Charles Oakley was Michael Jordan’s long time power forward during those years before Michael and the Bulls began kicking the rest of the league’s butte. He was a tough, serious player. Much of that toughness rubbed off on Michael providing him a role model on tenacity and competitiveness. Charles would later move on to be a longtime star with the New York Knicks. Though ensuing rivals the two’s friendship continued and still remains today. These two truly enjoyed their time together on the Bulls.
4 Hated: Stacey King
Stacey King managed to remain a Chicago Bull for five years winning a championship with the team in three of those years. His talent was OK but was shuffled between the then Bulls army of big forwards and teammates which included himself, Will Perdue, and Scott Williams. Stacey King’s most famous contribution to the Chicago Bulls is that all out war for the ball his teammates had in front of the New Knicks basket while he stood up to Charles Smith. Unfortunately for Stacey King another famous incident was when he commented after one of Michael Jordan’s explosive games where he and Jordan combined for 70 points. King contributed one point while Michael Jordan scored 69. Yeah, King didn't exactly help out much on that night. Meanwhile, Jordan was Jordan.
3 Loved: Dennis Rodman
Dennis Rodman first became famous playing the role of a Bad Boy along with teammates Isaiah Thomas, Bill Laimbeer, and John Salley of the Detroit Pistons. He later joined the Chicago Bulls in 1995 becoming part of the franchise’s second three-peat run. Dennis Rodman was a ferocious rebounder, rim protector, and tenacious defender. He did everything he could to make scoring points and making assists easy for stars Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan. Dennis Rodman showed obvious affection for Michael Jordan. Both MJ and Scottie Pippen’s acceptance of him as a teammate (despite his then off court distractions) motivated Dennis Rodman to be the basketball star he was capable of being. Rodman may receive a lot of heat for his personality but there is no denying his contributions to the game of basketball.
2 Hated: Kwame Brown
During his short stint as both player and general manager for the Washington Wizards, Michael Jordan made Kwame Brown the team’s first round pick in the 2001 NBA Draft. Jordan’s pick is famous for being one of the biggest busts of all time. But not only was the bust hard on Jordan it placed Kwame Brown in the spotlight, demanding instant perfection from him. He could not take the pressure. His performance during games was horrible and he paid dearly for it. Michael Jordan was known to place Kwame in front of the team to function as a peon where he was forced to endure long lectures, and at times tirades from the team leader. Teammates would often witness the poor guy torn in front of them broken down into tears.
1 Loved: Scottie Pippen
No one took as much advantage and gained as much hype from Michael Jordan’s winning performance than Scottie Pippen. Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan go together like Joe Montana and Jerry Rice, Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier, peanut butter and jelly. Of all Michael Jordan’s teammates throughout his entire playing career Scottie Pippen is the only one to have played in all six championship seasons. He was the one talented enough to endure Mike’s harsh criticisms and demand for perfection to stick around for the long run. And it was not until Scottie began to develop into the All-Star player he would eventually become that the Bulls began winning all those NBA titles. Air Jordan needed a stress ball to take some of that pressure off him and Scottie Pippen felt glad to lend a hand.
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