Thorn On The Last Dance: Jordan Wasn't Like That As A Rookie

Michael Jordan was always competitive, sure, but punching teammates in the face didn't come until later in his career

May 12, 2020 - 7:40 am
Chicago Bulls Michael Jordan

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Former Chicago Bulls general manager Rod Thorn, who drafted Michael Jordan in 1984, dropped by CBS Sports Radio to reflect on MJ’s career and share his thoughts on The Last Dance.

The 10-part series portrays Jordan as a win-at-all-costs competitor who had no problem getting in the face of teammates – either with his words or his fists. That persona, however, came later in his NBA career.

“As a rookie, he is not as he is portrayed in The Last Dance,” Thorn told JR SportBrief. “He certainly wasn’t like that. But he played at a high level and he did expect players to play at the highest level they could play. One thing that he said [Sunday] night was definitely true during his first year, and that was, ‘I will work harder, not only in the games, but in practice. I will do everything that I expect all of you to do. I’ll do it the same way or better than you’re going to be able to do it.’ [He was that way] right from the start.”

That competitive spirit helped propel Jordan to six NBA titles.

“From all indications over the course of his career, he practiced as hard as he played, and you can’t say that about many guys,” Thorn said. “He wanted to win every little scrimmage. He wanted to win every little run-the-lines [drill]. Whatever you were doing, he was always focused on winning whatever that was. I can honestly say there have only been a handful of players that have had the competitive spirit that I’ve been around that Michael had.”

Indeed, Jordan inspired greatness in those who followed him, including Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.

“Kobe is the closest thing to Michael from the standpoint of position played,” Thorn said. “[He] obviously copied a lot of his game after Michael [and] is right in there with him athletically. Great, great player. You’d have to put him on that all-time list. LeBron, I don’t know that there’s ever been a player at his size that can do what he does: the incredible athleticism, the quickness, how smart he is on the court. LeBron, obviously, is one of the great players in the history of the game.”