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Winderman: Jordan would have called Magic and Bird — he wanted to win

Jul 19, 2010, 1:28 PM EDT


When did Michael Jordan become like our dads?

When did he start with the, “Well, back in my day…”

Because if he truly is going to thrive as a franchise owner with the Charlotte Bobcats, then perhaps there is a need to recognize he is not back in his day, and that the world has changed since there was a one-star-per-team limit.

The latest, and best-chronicled, is the comment Jordan offered during his latest whirl at celebrity golf over the weekend.

“There’s no way, with hindsight, I would’ve ever called up Larry, called up Magic and said, ‘Hey, look, let’s get together and play on one team,'” Jordan said. “But that’s . . .  things are different. I can’t say that’s a bad thing. It’s an opportunity these kids have today. In all honesty, I was trying to beat those guys.”

In other words, he wouldn’t have gone LeBron, wouldn’t have sought refuge in the land of Wade (and Bosh).


Understand, Jordan wanted to win, had to win.

So let’s say Jerry Krause pulled his ultimate power play during Jordan’s career, during one of those seasons when Michael was on the year-to-year plan. Say Krause won the power struggle with Phil Jackson, excised the coach, and got into a stare down with Jordan.

Can you honestly say Jordan then would have moved on to the Clippers or Warriors or Raptors, or stayed with a rebuilding Bulls team just so he could have competed against Shaq and Malone and Reggie?

Or, like LeBron, would he have said that he wanted to play deeper into the playoffs, play alongside someone who could keep him there.

For Jordan, there always was the luxury of playing alongside Scottie Pippen. He didn’t have to find a running mate; he always had one.

And it’s not as if LeBron still won’t have his moments this coming season against the likes of Carmelo and Durant and Pierce. The challenges still will be there. Plenty of them. With many motivated opponents.

Put it another way, do you honestly believe Jordan would have hung up if Larry or Magic or Charles had actually called, if there was such an opportunity, during a period of much more restrictive free agency?

But this is good to know, and good for those in Charlotte to know.

Because if Michael does have the opportunity to land someone like a Chris Paul, bring the point guard back to North Carolina, at least Bobcats fans would know that Jordan then wouldn’t try to add a Carmelo, as well.

In M.J.’s view, that clearly would be unseemly.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

212 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. JBK - Jul 19, 2010 at 4:07 PM

    “Their [sic] teams were pathetic playoff teams who they could easily dismiss.” The Cavs were a pathetic playoff team? A couple of facts regarding the Cavs w/ LBJ:
    (1) The Cavs never lost a first round series;
    (2) The Cavs went to the finals in the last five years. How many other teams can make that claim (San Antonio, LA, Boston, & Orlando – thats it);
    (3) In the last four years the Cavs lost to SA (Finals); Boston (eventual Champions); Orlando in the Eastern Conference Finals; & Boston (who just lost the Championship in game seven after Perkins went down). In sum, the Cavs lost to either the team that won te Championship or the team that lost the Championship. Your right; they sucked.
    (4) Not all of the responsibility for those losses reasted with LBJ’s teamates. Against Orlando, LBJ wanted to gaurd Rafer Altson so that he wouldn’t have to work on defense. We needed him to gaurd the bigger players. Against Boston this year, ask LBJ how late he kept the team out before game 2 after his MVP party. You all saw game five.

  2. chris - Jul 19, 2010 at 4:11 PM

    I think everyone are counting the Heat’s chickens before they have even hatched. Remember how many “dream teams” got beat by the rest of the world? This despite the fact they had head over heals better individual talent on the team when compared to say, Argentina? The difference between the skill of the Heat today and the rest of the NBA is nowhere near as stark as any of the dream teams and the rest of the world but the dream teams lost, often. A teams performence is so much more than the combined skills of its individual players. This team could easily tank just because the 3 stars ego’s don’t let them get along and the 2 non-stars geta little sick of all the attention on the 3 stars. Nowhere near a sure thing for a championship.

  3. TL - Jul 19, 2010 at 4:15 PM

    This article is nothing but ridiculous garbage. There’s no room for opinion here.
    MJ played in the NBA. He didn’t call Magic/Bird. Why would his donkey suggest otherwise?
    MJ didn’t need Magic/Bird to be great. He made others great (e.g. Pippen – Yea, he would have been good but take MJ away…)
    LeBum is just that… an athletic man-child. Mentally, he doesn’t have what it takes to be great.
    I’m just glad MJ is black. Otherwise he would have been a KKK member for saying that. Slavery would have entered the conversation somehow.

  4. Johnny Boy - Jul 19, 2010 at 4:19 PM

    GQ, why so sensitive? Get over it. Winderman hit the heart of the issue and you can’t handle the truth. Boo-hoo…go cry on Jordan’s Hanes underwear, you big wussy.

  5. NavyDV - Jul 19, 2010 at 4:20 PM

    You really don’t have a clue do you?

  6. Johnny Boy - Jul 19, 2010 at 4:21 PM

    GQ, why so sensitive? Get over it. Winderman hit the heart of the issue and you can’t handle the truth. Boo-hoo…go cry on Jordan’s Hanes underwear, you big wussy.

  7. Johnny Boy - Jul 19, 2010 at 4:22 PM

    GQ, why so sensitive? Get over it. Winderman hit the heart of the issue and you can’t handle the truth. Boo-hoo…go cry on Jordan’s Hanes underwear, you big wussy.

  8. Johnny Boy - Jul 19, 2010 at 4:23 PM

    GQ, why so sensitive? Get over it. Winderman hit the heart of the issue and you can’t handle the truth. Boo-hoo…go cry on Jordan’s Hanes underwear, you big wussy.

  9. John - Jul 19, 2010 at 4:25 PM

    GQ, why so sensitive? Get over it. Winderman hit the heart of the issue and you can’t handle the truth. Boo-hoo…go cry on Jordan’s Hanes underwear, you big wussy.

  10. hoj - Jul 19, 2010 at 4:30 PM

    every hear of a honeymoon period? they will win this year easy. honeymoon period. next year the results will be the same but the story will be a bit different. teams will challenge them and they will have to challenge themselves with some emotional cracks showing. third year i predicts domino’s to start falling. Bosh will go first. he is whether his performance dictates it or not, “the other guy” and i don’t think bosh will stomach that for 3 straight years, especially if he is putting comprible numbers out. remember, lebron and wade are now celebrities, bosh is an allstar basketball player, difference, difference. bosh won’t be on the red carpet even though he will be invited to the party. lebron and wade will be headliners on that red carpet and bosh will want that red carpet too. he will drop first. they won’t last 3 fulls seasons. that’s my prediction!!!

  11. James - Jul 19, 2010 at 4:31 PM

    Kobe never did it without Shaq the first three times. And then he needed Pau Gasol, who everyone and there mother was claiming as the best big man in the game right now (best at his position). He even had a horrible game in game 7 and his team was still good enough to win, so I don’t buy the fact that Kobe is doing it as a one man superstar. Jordan had one of the 50 greatest players on his team. Magic had Worthy and Kareem amoung countless role players. Bird had McHale and Parrish. LeBron was given a 34 year old Jamison and Mo Williams. I wish people would stop being so bitter about this whole thing and actually get excited to see a collection of superstars get on the same team. I’m not a fan of any of the teams i’ve mentioned, but i’m a basketball fan, and this gets me excited.

  12. Danno - Jul 19, 2010 at 4:35 PM

    Yep….I agree !
    And, the Bulls never had to go elsewhere to find players to play with MJ…..they ALREADY HAD THEM !!!
    Let’s see….see if you can pick guys that they had and compare them with Bosh & Wade ??? Start out by listing Pippen and Rodman, or Pippen and Grant, or Pippen and Kukoc…..gee, I think I just listed a starting five that could run circles around the Miami Heat !!!

  13. Drew - Jul 19, 2010 at 4:37 PM

    This is one of the crappiest, most sensationalized opinion pieces I’ve ever read.
    Jordan specifically said, “things are different now.”
    Drawing a direct correlation from Jordan’s statements to “if he gets Chris Paul he won’t attempt to get another superstar” (paraphrase) is completely absurd.

  14. Joel - Jul 19, 2010 at 4:39 PM

    Ira is an idiot! He always trys to call out players all the time! Jordan is only saying the truth, and lebron will never be at his level! Shaq, koby,and Duncan are more of a king than that wana be!

  15. Michael - Jul 19, 2010 at 4:43 PM

    Jordan is full of it. He had Pippen and Rodman. He had Kerr and Paxton. Certainly he wouldn’t call Bird or Magic he already had his support. James had Fat Butt Shaq, Delonte West, Shemp, Moe and Curly. If Jordan was in the same boat as James you can take it to the bank he would have done exactly the same thing if he could.

  16. phil - Jul 19, 2010 at 4:43 PM

    why the f are you so annoying? say you unfunny comment once and let it be. Lebum went out like a coward and not like a great. If you can’t beat em join em.

  17. Marcus - Jul 19, 2010 at 4:44 PM

    Lebron is not, and will never be as good as Michael.
    As a matter of fact he’s no better than Kobe.
    Kobe Bryant is ultimate competitor and in that regards very similar to Michael Jordan.He had Shaq on his team but refused to be a sidekick, and we all know how it worked out.
    Before they win their championship in south beach they’ll first have to go through Boston,Orlando and eventually Lakers.
    I doubt it will happen anytime soon.

  18. jeff - Jul 19, 2010 at 4:49 PM

    hoj well put
    as a boca raton native i grew up reading columns from ira like this all the time, its hysterical that people are ripping him. wait till they see his face pic next to his columns, even funnier
    all that matters is jordan was good enough to make a good player (pippen) into a great one. why you think pippen wasn’t first team all defense or an allstar till like 91. he was drafted in 87. him and jordan gelled together, jordan got pippen to elevate to his game. lebron either didn’t have it in him or just didn’t care about trying to do it. which is lame, cause he wanted everyone blowing him like jordan, but didn’t want to sac up and do what it took

  19. SP - Jul 19, 2010 at 4:52 PM

    You need to change this from PROBASKETBALL TALK to BASKETBALL TMZ. You are a sorry, pathetic excuse of a man. What Jordan said is 100% accurate.
    And to all the people saying Jordan already had all these great players, well how many championships did ANY of them win without Jordan?? Exactly…

  20. Da Real - Jul 19, 2010 at 4:59 PM

    You are dead wrong. Do you know how truly competitive some people can be? Jordan is the epitome of this. As young kid, I got in a lot of fights. I know from myself that I never would fight a smaller, weaker guy. It would add nothing to my “wanna be” legend. In fact I only wanted to fight bigger, stronger guys, because beating them adds to the legend, get it? That is how some people think man. Did you listen to his Hall of Fame speech? You are an idiot.

  21. Jason - Jul 19, 2010 at 5:00 PM

    This writer’s an idiot. Jordan was the ULTIMATE competitor. He thrived playing against the likes of Bird and Magic. I beleive him when he says he would never want to play on the same team as them. Jordan, always will be, the best of the best. He had a swagger and that x-factor that nobody has today. The closest player to Jordan is Kobe but even Kobe lacks the swagger Jordan had. How quickly we forget. Go to youtube, type in Jordan, and refresh your memory of how good this guy was. His ego was too big to play along side anyonye on his level. That is why Lebron will never be conisdered alongside Jordan now that he is playing with two of the top guys in the league. I don’t blame him for going to the Heat like most. I think it was a stupid career move when you start talking legacy but if its a matter of winning championships than he made the right move. I think it is unfair that he carrys the burden of ruining Clevland’s economy. He’s just a basketball player. The problem with Clevland is they have nothing else and put all their eggs in the Lebron basket. That’s their problem, not his.

  22. Rubes - Jul 19, 2010 at 5:03 PM

    I live in South Florida and have tried my best to warm up to the teams here over the last five years. Rooting for D Wade and the Heat has been easiest for me. He is, even if considered on of the top three active players, somehow still not fully appreciated as a player, athlete and all around good guy. I almost wish we could have acomplished this rebuilding year without LeBron and simply acquired Chris Bosh and got some second tier talent to fill out the roster.
    But Ira “omnisnient” Windbag is going to make this hard for me. Do you know, Mr. Winderman, what’s inside MJ so knowingly to call his statements “bunk”? He stated he could not see doing it as a player when he played but understands how the landscape has changed and understands it. What is you f-ing problem with calling him out on something you cannot possibly know? Magic and Larry were obsessed with beating each other. And no one was more obsessed in every sense of the word than MJ! He wanted to win more than anyone (think back to his Hall of Fame speach). You have no basis to call him out as a liar for saying he was more interested in beating them than winning. To him it was the same thing. Can you see Larry Bird picking up the phone in French Lick and saying: “Your right MJ, this competition stuff
    is too hard. Let’s just colude and gather rings”. Even if you could at the time which he couldn’t- AND WOULDN’T.
    LeBron is free to do what he wants to do. But Ira Winderman is not free to speak for Michael Jordon. He speaks for himself just fine.

  23. Justin M. - Jul 19, 2010 at 5:05 PM

    I think Ira is clearly off base with this article. It looks like the rest of the readers agree judging from the comments.

  24. Bruce L. - Jul 19, 2010 at 5:17 PM

    One world-class player surrounded by scrubs does not have the ability to win multiple NBA championships, no matter how much talent the player in question may have for “making his teammates better.” Anybody who would argue that LeBron James didn’t make his Cavs teammates better the way Jordan did for his Bulls is either lying or an idiot, and the simple fact is that Mo Williams, Delonte West, and Zydrunas Ilgauskas — whatever their strengths may be — are not Scottie Pippen (who is indeed one of the all-time greats), Dennis Rodman, and Toni Kukoc. Michael Jordan’s Bulls, Larry Bird’s Celtics, and Magic Johnson’s Lakers all had multiple players who were among the best in the league at the time. And if only one was the clear leader of the team, they still wouldn’t have accomplished as much without teammates to lead who were on the same level.
    That’s something LeBron never had in Cleveland, and that Dwyane Wade only really had in his championship season (when he had an aging but still effective Shaq providing the veteran support and leadership for him that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar once provided for Magic Johnson). You don’t win consistently in team sports without teammates who are in your league, period. Jordan never did, Bird and Johnson never did, Kobe DAMN sure never did, and insisting on doing so wouldn’t be “killer instinct” or “competitive edge” or whatever else it’s been called; it’d be wrong-headed. LeBron announced his decision in just about the stupidest and most self-absorbed way possible, but it was the right decision to make, and if it pays off with the multiple championships he hopes it will, it won’t damage his future legacy a bit.

  25. JJ - Jul 19, 2010 at 5:19 PM

    Winderman- you are an absolute moron. Unlike LeBron, Jordan had class which is why, first and foremost, he wouldn’t have called Bird or Johnson. The notion that if he hadn’t won a championship, he would have called them to play is absurd simply by the virtue that he DID WIN. THAT’S THE ENTIRE POINT. LeBron is a Loser; Jordan is a Winner. It doesn’t get much more cut & dry than that!

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