Despite Not Winning an NBA Title for First 6 Seasons, Michael Jordan Refused to Follow Magic Johnson’s Footsteps

Published 12/25/2022, 12:50 PM EST
Michael Jordan, forward for the Chicago Bulls, holding a basketball in the locker room. | Credits: Getty Images

Michael Jordan being unstoppable in the 90s is a known fact, but things weren’t always like that. The 80s were pretty lackluster for the Bulls’ no. 23 as he struggled to get a ring. His Airness was unable to win the NBA title for seven years after his debut. However, MJ wasn’t the type to give up, as he persisted in his attempt for the Holy Grail of basketball. But he also refrained from using tactics that shifted his mind off the game. The legend was determined to win but not at any cost. 

In the book The Jordan Rules, the author Sam Smith mentioned Jordan’s troubles with his then-coach, Doug Collins. However, despite the problems, he refused to go the ‘Magic Route’.

Michael Jordan refrained from pulling any stunts to get rid of his coach

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His Airness and his legacy is for the most part spotless, but for a while many raised doubts about MJ. The Chicago Bulls legend’s unsuccessful venture in taking the Bulls to th NBA Finals was a huge reason behind such criticisms. His performances weren’t lackluster by any stretch of the imagination, which added salt to the wounds of the fans.

Many blamed the-then coach of the Bulls, Doug Collins for such a failure. But Michael Jordan had a reputation to uphold as the face of the league and a fan-favorite. In the book The Jordan Rules, a lot was revealed about the superstar’s approach under the adverse circumstances. Jordan reportedly denied badmouthing his coach unlike many greats in the past to uphold his reputation and image in the league.

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I’m not getting into one of those things like Magic did,” said Jordan, according to Smith’s book. MJ was talking about Magic Johnson speaking up against Los Angeles Lakers coach Paul Westhead in the 1981-82 season. Johnson, along with others weren’t happy with the playing style of Westhead, which led to the coach being fired. 

Jordan didn’t want any part of that. Westhead was fired 11 games into the season after winning an NBA championship just two seasons ago. Westhead’s resume probably didn’t deserve such harsh decisions, a fact which fans later agreed to. Hence, MJ refrained from criticizing his coach publicly, as he was unsure of the consequences.

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The Bulls ultimately didn’t need Jordan to speak up as Phil Jackson came into the picture soon. The then-rookie coach rose to legendary status with the Bulls, winning six rings in his tenure.

Phil Jackson, Michael Jordan, and the Chicago Bulls in the 90s

Jordan wasn’t short on talent, but maybe he was short on guidance and support. Once the legendary no. 23 found his people on-court, nothing could stop him.

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Phil Jackson made sure to carefully coach one of the best athletes on the planet. Additionally, he took care of ensuring the inner workings of the system so that Jordan could fulfill his part well enough.

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Shankha Shuvra Das

316 articles

Shankha Shuvra Das is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. He holds a Bachelor's and a Master's degree in Economics and has extensive experience in freelance content creation, especially in the field of technology. Shankha's passion for covering the sport of basketball stems from his love for the NBA, which he has been following closely for several years now.

Edited By: Satagni Sikder

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