D.A. Details Biggest Surprise From "The Last Dance" Debut

Basketball fans probably learned a lot about Michael Jordan on Sunday, but for D.A., there was one real "wow moment"

The DA Show
April 20, 2020 - 5:10 pm

Basketball fans, especially those who witnessed the Chicago Bulls’ dynasty in the 1990s, probably know that Michael Jordan did not see eye-to-eye with management in his final season. What they might now know, however, is that Jordan’s distrust of management began over a decade earlier in 1986.

Thanks to the first two episodes of The Last Dance, which debuted Sunday, now we know that. Loud and clear.

“That resentment began in year two [of Jordan’s career],” a stunned Damon Amendolara said on The DA Show. “I had no idea. That was the biggest surprise to me.”

Jordan broke his foot in 1985 and missed 64 games. Management wanted Jordan to sit out the entire season, but he refused. Eventually, the Bulls allowed him to play seven minutes per half.

“The Bulls’ brass, the two Jerry’s – Reinsdorf and Krause – insist it’s because of his own health, that it’s simply because they don’t want him to re-injure himself because there’s a chance, however, minuscule, that that could end his career if he comes back too soon,” Amendolara said. “And Michael, being the utmost cutthroat competitor, said, ‘I need to be out there. I have to be out there.’”

The clash came to a head in the final game of the regular-season. The Bulls, needing a win to make the playoffs, would not let Jordan play in the final seconds of a one-score game against Indiana. Then-coach Stan Albeck had received a strict ultimatum: if you play Jordan more than seven minutes per half, you’re fired.

“That kills Michael because it shows him that the brass is not into winning; it is into the business,” Amendolara said. “What they don’t say but they imply is that was the Patrick Ewing year when tanking was an enormous thing. The Bulls were more interested in getting a high draft pick than making the playoffs.”

Ultimately, John Paxson hit the game-winner and the Bulls made the playoffs, thus setting up Jordan’s epic playoff performances against Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics. But the minutes restriction left a sour taste in MJ’s mouth – or better yet, his wagging tongue.

“It stuck with Michael since then,” Amendolara said. “I had no idea his resentment towards the front office begins year two. You would think resentment built after winning some championships and becoming a global icon – all of that in the mid-to-late 90s. What this documentary is saying is Michael resenting and distrusting Reinsdorf and Krause begins in 1986. To me, that was a real wow moment.”