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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. Drew - Jul 19, 2010 at 5:21 PM

    Let’s ignore the fact that Wade and LeBron are on the team and let’s just use Bosh as a judge of what team had better talent.
    First toss Rodman out of any discussion. In the 3 seasons Rodman played for the Bulls he never averaged more than 5.7 ppg. He’s Marcus Camby without defense.
    Bosh’s first 7 years of stats destroy the first 7 of Ho Grant and Kukoc, while rivaling Pippen’s.
    Grant: (+7.5ppg/+1rpg/even bpg/even apg/-.3spg/higher FT%)
    Kukoc: (+6ppg/+5rpg/+1bpg/-2.5apg/-.2spg/higher FG% and FT%)
    Pippen: (+3ppg/+2.5rpg/+.4bpg/-3apg/-1spg/higher FG% and FT%)
    This doesn’t even factor in LeBron/Wade (argue who will be “Jordan” in that group). To say Jordan ever had better help than what is in Miami right now is laughable.

  2. Phil Jackson - Jul 19, 2010 at 5:21 PM

    The only thing Kobe could do by himself is get rape charges.
    Only thing Michael could do by himself was draft Kwame Brown.
    Only thing Magic could do by himself was get AIDS.
    Only thing Bird could do by himself was ignore his daughter.
    At the same time and place they all would do what is being done now. Don’t make them out to be super heros without blemish. They all have their warts – as much if not more than LeBron.
    If they were playing today do you think they would toil in Cleveland with Anderson Varejao, Mo Williams and 200 year old Jameson while being beaten annually by the likes of Boston’s Big 3, LA’s 3 or Orlando?
    Plus, given the chance to earn $100 million over the next 6 years while playing with your friends in South Beach – and creating a team to compete with Boston, LA and Orlando – wouldn’t you all sign on that dotted line? Tell me who would say “no” and then smack yourself in the head for either being an idiot or a liar!!!

  3. For Real - Jul 19, 2010 at 5:21 PM

    C’mon idiot. MJ’s first 3-4 years were bad until Pippen and BJ Armstrong was drafted then developed. The core of the team was built inside then they got the role players outside. Was there some luck? moons aligned? yes!. But the point is MJ stayed with the team and “helped” built it. We know the fact that Lebron copped out. He could get people to join him..join his team. So instead he found the short cut.
    I have no problem with three guys teaming up. It will be an interesting season. This is just sizing up the person’s character. We now that MJ wasn’t willing to take short cuts. But LJ know is willing to take short cuts.

  4. pjmjfan - Jul 19, 2010 at 5:30 PM

    “toil in Cleveland”???? Check the Cav’s record last season. MJ could only hope his team will “toil” like the Cav’s did last year.

  5. Scottie - Jul 19, 2010 at 5:37 PM

    Michael didn’t leave because he couldn’t leave. The free agency structure did not exist as it does now – hence the reason people are saying it was a different day.
    By the way, would you leave the job you have now for things like happiness, better weather, job satisfaction, personal growth, better opportunities or personal enjoyment? If you say “no” you are full of shiite and not “for real”

  6. Rubes - Jul 19, 2010 at 5:41 PM

    To the “For Real applied to comment from Michael”.
    I agree. But as many of the other’s people have posted, the Cav’s have had the best regular season record. He wasn’t palying in a vacuum. However, as a Detroit native, if I was able to reenergize Clevland (which he did and will soon lance through the heart)I would never leave my the people I gave so much hope ( and $) to.

  7. William Hansen - Jul 19, 2010 at 5:46 PM

    Jordan forgets that he didn’t need any help, he already had good player to help him out, if he didn’t have all that help he made have lost more then he won. Jordan has a high grade for himsef, but James does many things Jordan can’t do as well.

  8. rodk47 - Jul 19, 2010 at 5:52 PM

    Winderman typifies todays low IQ sportswriter/bozo. Just look at what Jordan said, all of you LeBum suckups. He admitted that things were different today than in his day. There is no argument here. Personally, I think Jordan would have crushed LeBum just like he crushed Ewing,Drexler, Barkley, Olajuwon and all the other Hall of Famers, but it’s just speculation. Apparently, Winderman isn’t very good at reading comprehensions…doesn’t even understand what he quotes Jordan saying.
    It’s almost against the law of sports journalism to criticize LeBum these days, so we can look for Winderman to join all the other sports parasite/sychophants at ESPN soon. You can only suck up to George Steinbrenner, and bash Tiger for so many weeks before you have to get back to hyping LeBum. You’d better hope nothing happens to him, or the whole “sports journalism” industry will crash and burn.

  9. nyc212 - Jul 19, 2010 at 5:53 PM

    funniest thread i have read in a long time, lol!!!!!!

  10. Q. - Jul 19, 2010 at 5:54 PM

    Ira Winderman is a talentless writer. This article is a peice sentsationalized refuse. MJ, a liar? Winderman, your career is a lie.

  11. Scottie - Jul 19, 2010 at 5:54 PM

    Ah, so having the best regular season record is what it is all about? He should have been satisfied carrying around alot of aging veterans with high salaries because they could get it done when it doesn’t really count? That would be like choosing to go to Northern Iowa for a basketball scholarship because winning a division title and just getting invited to the Big Dance is all that matters.
    I am not saying that staying in Cleveland is the right thing or wrong thing. I am saying that many people leave “home” for one reason or another. Maybe he felt he couldn’t carry Cleveland anymore. There are other things in life to enjoy.
    Also, I think that he had enough of the Cavs games. The owner’s reaction when he left is indicative of problems (and it has been reported that he routinely reacts poorly). Firing the head coach (who had led the last 2 years of “best regular season”), trading his friend Big Z, firing the GM, trying to hire a college coach and using the idea of “Home” as the major recruiting tool evidently were enough to let LeBron have a wondering eye. Who would blame him?

  12. Gertrude Monvasss - Jul 19, 2010 at 5:56 PM

    Jordan had Dickey Simpkins and Jack Haley on his team. Now if that’s not the big 3, I’m not sure what is.

  13. talkingsense - Jul 19, 2010 at 6:07 PM

    Jordan playing baseball had nothing to do with gambling or David Stern wanting to subspend him from basketball or save Jordan’s image. MJ decided to play baseball out of respect for his deceased/slain father. I believe that scenario over anything else.

  14. MobTown - Jul 19, 2010 at 6:18 PM

    You’re going to compare Magic calling Jordan in the middle of night to these three girls organizing their contracts three years in advance to organize this deal?
    You’re going to compare Jordan, the man who refused to lose, to Lebron, the man who gave up in the playoffs in order to not create a legacy Cleveland.
    Ok, he didn’t give up?
    Mr. I spoiled Cleveland with my play? The guy who shot 20% from the field in a must-win-game. The guy who was jacking up 3’s falling out of bounds, shots he never would have taken if he was actually playing? That guy and Jordan?
    I guess I see where Jordan, with his 7 rings has no room to speak on the subject. It’s not like he’s created some of the most memorable moments in playoff history. It’s not like he’s considered one of the single greatest champions in the history of sport.
    Tiger Woods is compared Lebron. Roger Federer is compared to Lebron. These are people who win championships, and make winning a priority over AAU tug jobs.

  15. talkingsense - Jul 19, 2010 at 6:20 PM

    That’s the point….MJ stayed with the Bulls until they were able to build a team that eventually won championships. Michael did not jump to a ready made team or to where he was getting together with other players to form a superstar team/power house so that it would be a easier route to a championship.

  16. banner18 - Jul 19, 2010 at 6:36 PM

    Seriously, this is one of the dumbest articles I have read on the whole situation.
    Yes, Larry and Magic were close friends of MJ, but he did not want to play with them. He wanted to BEAT them. He wanted to BEAT Isiah Thomas. He wanted to BEAT Patrick Ewing. He wanted to BEAT Gary Payton. He wanted to BEAT Charles Barkley. He wanted to BEAT Alonzo Mourning and Karl Malone and John Stockton and Kobe Bryant and the rest.
    And as for Larry and Magic, they have always been best friends, and yet they took incredible delight in beating each other, and both have long since acknowledged that. There isn’t a single rational NBA fan outside of South Florida who doesn’t understand that the stars of yesterday lived for the challenge of BEATING each other, not playing with each other (Team USA is the exception).
    And MJ referring to LBJ, Wade, and Bosh as “kids” is priceless. Because they are, after all, the pampered, front-running paupers of the AAU generation.

  17. Alex - Jul 19, 2010 at 6:54 PM

    Well IRA, Did He do it? Do not make assumptions and base your comments on facts. Michael stayed and Lebron moved regardless of the circumstances, do not put the what ifs in your spin because your boy ran.

  18. Carlos - Jul 19, 2010 at 7:03 PM

    This article is so lame.. Jordan clearly admitted himself times are different now than in his day. So yeah, if Krause fired Phil Jackson and replaced him with Tom Arnold and to save money he traded Pipen and the rest of the Bulls team, and made Jordan play with 16 year old girls from Chicago High, then well yes, Jordan would have left too… and that according to Winderman makes him the same as Lebron… what a moron.

  19. mar sal - Jul 19, 2010 at 7:26 PM

    For those who say the Cavs were a “bag of junk” with a squad of scrubs, it seems to me that they forgot who won the most games in the regular season for the past two years. Also, MJ didn’t get his 1st ring until he was 28 and Pippen didn’t come along until 1987 and become an all star until 1990. LBJ was playing with two recent all stars plus Shaq. While not as good as MJ’s Bulls team, it was good enough to lead the league for two years in a row. Not exactly garbage. Keep in mind that Winderman is South Florida based sports writer jumping up to defend his latest hero. Another example of the LBJ enablers at work.

  20. Jeff - Jul 19, 2010 at 7:41 PM

    BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! I hate Jordan, I’m a Celtic fan. But, Jordan? Sour grapes? He won SIX, 6 championships. SIX!!!!! You have to go back to the years when the league had 18 teams to find a man who won six championships. Why the hell would it be sour grapes? There wont be another man to win six championships for at least 50 years if not longer. Jordon had Pippen and that was it. Kerr, pphhttt…so what, Cartwright, wasn’t much of a center. That Slavic player was average at best. Jordan ruled the NBA. Sour grapes, really? Lebron was/is worried about his legacy. He wants/needs to be in the same conversation with Bird, Magic, and Jordan. The way he and his team quit in the playoffs the past two years, regardless of what he does from here on out he never will. Even when Bird lost to Indiana in the playoffs towards the end of his career he bounced his FACE of the court and come back to play. I doubt we’d ever see that from Lebron. I’m assuming you’re a kid and clueless of the history of the NBA, but real NBA players don’t quit and Lebron DID!!!!

  21. Kirk - Jul 19, 2010 at 8:21 PM

    1) LISTEN to what Jordan said in the interview because your article is a collection of distortions that shows you didn’t.
    2) After reading so many comments a greater question arises: Explain to us all how you were able to get your job ?
    We really do know, you’re the owner’s son-in-law !

  22. Matt - Jul 19, 2010 at 8:32 PM

    This is the most vacuous, insipid piece of “writing” in the history of the english language.

  23. Chris - Jul 19, 2010 at 9:43 PM

    Is this article supposed to be joke??? This can not be serious. Jordan rose to every challenge….he didn’t run, hold “the decision” and then try to ride the coat tails of two other players. Lebron will never be the best, EVER… he showed his pathetic true colors… and I can’t believe someone actually pays this joke of an author.. I’d ask for a refund.

  24. Geo - Jul 19, 2010 at 10:04 PM

    Anyone old enough to have followed Jordan’s career knows this piece of conjecture is contrived, moronic, and a sophomoric attempt to cover for the new boy in Heat uniform. Just a coincidence that Ira’s a beat writer for the Heat, huh.

  25. Mickey Matos - Jul 19, 2010 at 10:06 PM

    This article is pure BS. And this is coming from a diehard Knick fan who hated Jordan every second of his career. I believe him when he says he wouldn’t have reached out to Bird or Magic. What Lebron did was worse than that make-believe scenario; he didn’t recruit guys to help him. He’s going to Miami to BE help; to be second fiddle to Dwayne Wade. No one considered to be the next great one has ever done that in any sport that I can recall.

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