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Michael Jordan and the rest of the 1997-98 championship-winning Chicago Bulls will be put under the microscope starting over the weekend when a documentary on the team is released.
“The Last Dance” will be broadcast on ESPN starting Sunday, and in a preview with The Athletic on Wednesday, Jason Hehir, the film's director, admitted Jordan expressed his worries about how people would perceive him after tuning in.
“I said to him, ‘why do you want to do this?’ And he said, ‘I don’t.’ And I said, ‘Why not?’ And he said, ‘When people see this footage I’m not sure they’re going to be able to understand why I was so intense, why I did the things I did, why I acted the way I acted, and why I said the things I said,’” Hehir said. “He said there was a guy named Scotty Burrell who he rode for the entire season and, ‘When you see the footage of it, you’re going to think that I’m a horrible guy.'"
“'But you have to realize that the reason why I was treating him like that is because I needed him to be tough in the playoffs and we’re facing the Indiana’s and Miami’s and New York’s in the Eastern Conference. He needed to be tough and I needed to know that I could count on him. And those are the kind of things where people see me acting the way I acted in practice, they’re not going to understand it.’ I said to him, ‘That’s great because this is an opportunity. We have 10 hours here to peel back the onion and have you articulate all the things you just articulated to me.’”
Jordan said in one of the episodes that “winning has a price,” according to The Athletic. He said if a certain standard wasn’t being met by one of his teammates, he would step in and explain to the person what was going on
“And leadership has a price,” Jordan reportedly says. “So I pulled people along when they didn't want to be pulled. I challenged people when they didn't want to be challenged. And I earned that right because my teammates who came after me didn't endure all the things that I endured. Once you joined the team, you lived at a certain standard that I played the game. And I wasn't going to take any less. Now, if that means I had to go in there and get in your ass a little bit, then I did that. You ask all my teammates. The one thing about Michael Jordan was he never asked me to do something that he didn't f–king do.”
Jordan said people may perceive him as a “tyrant” but that’s because nobody has had as much sustainable success as he did.
“Look, I don't have to do this," he said. "I am only doing it because it is who I am. That's how I played the game. That was my mentality. If you don't want to play that way, don't play that way.”