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Despite Unbidden Trust, Michael Jordan’s Notorious Competitive Drive Came in the Way of Christmas Spirit for One Employee

Published 10/07/2023, 7:50 AM EDT

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There’s no such thing as a trivial competition when you’re Michael Jordan. His Airness is a difficult boss by a lot of accounts but he’s also known to treat his favorite employees like family. Yet that didn’t make him merciful on one employee who should’ve known better than to trigger MJ’S  infamous competitive drive. It makes the six-time champion less than charitable, and this employee found out the hard way.

Nevertheless, MJ’s trusty bodyguard would become a lifelong friend of the NBA legend. After he was gone, their friendship and this bodyguard’s style statement lived on through The Last Dance.

When security needed protection against Michael Jordan

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Any NBA player who went against Michael Jordan could testify that you don’t provoke the Chicago Bulls legend’s competitive nature. You’d think working with His Airness for years would also make you aware of that fact. But John Michael Wozniak once famously missed the memo. Once NBA superstar Michael Jordan’s security guard, Wozniak became an icon when he and his chic perm mullet appeared on The Last Dance archive footage.

His party hairdo and Hollywood-style persona would win a fandom of his own. John’s son, Nicholi Wozniak shared stories about the mullet-head bodyguard, his fun personality and his relationship with Michael Jordan.

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The late Wozniak became a part of Jordan’s inner circle and was one of the few people he trusted with his wife and kids. He was the youngest in his security detail and had the liberty to josh with MJ. One instance went too far according to Nicholi.

It was at a Christmas party hosted by MJ and Wozniak was invited. Although ‘Tis the season to be jolly, not when it came to a game of pool. “One time during a Christmas party, my dad beat Michael at pool,” Nicholi recalled. We know where this goes.  “He kicked my dad out of the Christmas party.

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Surprisingly, Jordan was a lot more forgiving when Wozniak damaged his car at their first encounter. That would be the start of their friendship.

Michael Jordan’s a friend before a boss

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Even Kobe Bryant wouldn’t dare to go against him in any other sport like golf. But there were some things only John Michael Wozniak could get away with.

His friendship with the icon began when the military veteran and former Chicago police officer was working a side job at the old Chicago Stadium. Jordan forgave him for damaging his car then and the Bulls would employ him as one of his security escorts.

Wozniak even followed Jordan when he had a brief baseball career and returned to the Bulls security detail with the man himself. He had a brief cameo in The Last Dance where he and Jordan were pitching quarters. Wozniak beat him then too, took Jordan’s money and rubbed it in with Jordan’s signature MJ shrug. He survived without getting thrown out this time.

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Wozniak succumbed to colon cancer at the age of 69 before The Last Dance aired. One of the episodes was dedicated to his memory.

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Written by:

Caroline John

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Caroline John is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. She has been covering athletes outside the sports arena since the start of her reporting career. A writer at heart, she graduated with a degree in journalism from a reputed university.
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Edited by:

Aakash Nair