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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. Sunaru - Jul 19, 2010 at 10:06 PM

    I’ll take Jordan at face value. He played on some bad teams and forged his own way. I like his opinion and attitude.

  2. CaliCanuck - Jul 19, 2010 at 10:30 PM

    Anyone watching Jordan’s acceptance speech at his Hall of Fame induction would see that the need to beat his opponents, and to be publicly recognized as the best ever, drives the man. Even now. So I believe him.

  3. Xander - Jul 19, 2010 at 10:36 PM

    You don’t have your facts right.

  4. jim - Jul 19, 2010 at 10:48 PM

    The d-bag author of this article has not a clue. Jordan was in place, and the Bulls drafted Pippen and Grant. And by the way, Ira, James went to the finals earlier in his career than Jordan. This commentary = epic fail, retard.

  5. Laura - Jul 19, 2010 at 11:17 PM

    Actually, Phil, I am a woman, and I wouldn’t say that. Jordan gets it. And, since the end of “his day”, I’ve had little interest in pro basketball. Today’s players play street ball. They are thugs. I suppose not being able to spell finesse makes it harder to play with any. Yawn. LeBron and his ild are overpaid to the max, and have become boring in their predictability.

  6. Genester1 - Jul 19, 2010 at 11:50 PM

    I bet most of you guys are from New York, Chicago, New Jersey, or Chicago. All you guys sound like a bunch of biatches. LOL
    If Wade and Lebron would have gone to your teams you would be all up in their nut sacks!
    I think there’s an extra seat on the wagon for anyone who wants it. LOL
    HATERS!!!! Ha Ha Ha

  7. T-Will - Jul 20, 2010 at 12:16 AM

    I am as big a fan of Jordan as anybody. BUT, I hate when these dudes come back, 20 years later and start running their mouths! The players from the 70’s couldn’t competE with the players from the 90’s. And MJ, Definitely couldnt compete against LeBron ! LeBron would have his lunch ! Lebron has always wanted to be more like Magic / SHOWTIME, instead of the ball-hogging MJ or his mini-me…Kobe!
    Jordan got all that hot air…he can put on his sneaks and go play beside kobe as the 6’9″ LeBron runs the point! Unless he is willing to do that, he should STFU and try to win a game with his sorry bobcat team!

  8. T-Will - Jul 20, 2010 at 12:22 AM

    Great comment. Well thought out. Most of these posers are emotional and don’t think. Jordan personally recruited Rodman ( the best rebounder in the league ) and took a salary cut to keep Pippen. Now he acts as if he won everything by himself! He is starting to piss me off.

  9. Lvegas - Jul 20, 2010 at 12:37 AM

    The simple fact is that Jordan, Bird, Magic, and Kobe are the fiercest of competitors. They want to play the best of the best. They are, in no uncertain terms, alpha-dogs. James simply is not… he has deferred that role to Wade. That is what MJ was saying. Bird, Magic, Kobe and MJ are alpha-dogs and none of them would concede that role to anyone. If the clock was ticking and any of those guys were on the floor in an elimination game, they are trying to find a way to win… not wave off their coach and lackadaisically walk up the court. But to question Jordan in this ridiculous manner is just trash journalism. My guess is that this writer cannot relate because he/ she probably never played a competitive sport in his/ her life. Which explains his/ her ignorance of the nature of true competitors, the tougher the competitor, the sweeter the victory.

  10. JD - Jul 20, 2010 at 12:40 AM

    Shame on you MSNBC Sports for using this opportunity to get some increased internet hits at the expense of the greatest basketball player to ever play the game! Speculate all you want, but Michael Jordan would not have called, AND DIDN’T join forces with Larry Bird and Magic. His actions alone prove that he wanted to, AND DID, beat both of them!
    Insinuating that Michael Jordan is lying is below the belt.

  11. DiehardSkins - Jul 20, 2010 at 12:48 AM

    It’s funny how this guy tries to throw a counter point up that Jordan would have played with Magic and Bird. First off…that wasn’t the question. Would he have called up Magic or Bird to help him get a championship ring? Jordan’s answer was no. You know how we know he is telling the truth? BECAUSE HE DIDN’T!!! Took Jordan 7 long years to land that first ring, and he never asked for help. Back in the late 80’s early 90’s the GM’s were the one going out recruiting players through free agency. Players didn’t call each other up and decide they wanted to play together and pick a city to do it in.
    Ira…you can throw all the would of, should of, and could of up that you want. Your not talking about someone who is in the middle of his career with years left to play. Your talking about someone who played a full career already and has so many championship rings that he can’t fit them all on one hand. And were not even talking about the college championship that he also won. You can’t say that he would have done something when you look back at his career and know that he didn’t. Then to take what he wouldn’t do in his playing days and compare it to his ownership days in a different time and generation…well, it’s pretty pathetic. It’s two different types of jobs. Pilots of a B-17 would be stupid to jump out of their plane, but if your in the 101st Airborne division your a moron if you don’t jump out of the plane. Apples and oranges Ira…get a clue.

  12. Steve Phillips - Jul 20, 2010 at 1:00 AM

    Boy, is this all reporters can do, take things out of context? There is no comparison to MJ’s thoughts on “competion” and to the easy way out LeBron took.? MJ was merely expressing what his thoughts on competion are and that competition, and winning is a greater “HIGH” than “TRYING TO BUY A CHAMPIONSHIP” which is all these three,(Jester James, Wade, Bosh)are attermpting. MJ worked on building something, working hard at it and achieving it, with what he had and he made it work! Jester James took the easy way out and decided to BUY his championship, because he knows he couldn’t take a team there himself, working hard with them to acheieve it. Nope, buy what they percieve to be the best and the way they all act, it’s already in the bag. After “The Decision” and at the ESPY’s and the interviews, who really wants to play with tree egomaniacs????
    Come on Boston, you’re one good player away. “JUST DO IT”! Chicago, same with you, “JUST DO IT”! I for one (a previous Wade and James fan) really want to see them fall. I think it’s a shame that JESTER JAMES made the NBA out to be the NBA”S version of the WWF, with all the drama, the acts, the “SHOW”! COMPETION, as MJ put it, the will to want to beat the best, was lost with JESTER JAMES antics and shenanigans, and he sucked Wade and Bosh into it. I guess he saw he couldn’t lead a team to the Promise land. His only other alternative was to let some one else lead him. AND WE ALL SAY “KING JAMES”?????

  13. krautmick - Jul 20, 2010 at 1:17 AM

    over-paid outspoken idiot who woke up this morning drooling over a Jordan headline to bash. while walking into the office (whether at home or in true form), screams to his boss about roasting Jordan. get over the fact that he is by and large the greatest ever. any other description would be an understatement.

  14. krautmick - Jul 20, 2010 at 1:19 AM

    DO NOT FORGET that it would be 8 STRAIGHT TITLES if not for the desire to try it on the diamond. no debate!

  15. krautmick - Jul 20, 2010 at 1:27 AM

    your comment would do – less the kobe bryant affiliation.

  16. fjc1109 - Jul 20, 2010 at 1:40 AM

    Dude, Mike is king. Always will be!

  17. peter - Jul 20, 2010 at 1:41 AM

    your article is a joke…
    Ira Winderman writes regularly for and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
    of course youre gonna disagree with MJ’s comments, have fun chasin the devil around the nba buddy… hes speakin as a player not an owner… please go tell mj that hes lying.

  18. Narynan - Jul 20, 2010 at 1:45 AM

    Hes ego never would have let him. Thats the top and the bottom of it.

  19. nbafan24 - Jul 20, 2010 at 2:35 AM

    whoever is stating Jordan had Pippen, Rodman to win titles is an idiot. of course you need a 2nd go to man and roles players. Pippen is one of the greatest 50 players in history but surely he is not the #2 best player in the league. lebron and wade are probably the 2nd and 3rd best player in the league. no doubt they have the right to and will win championships. the point is, he will never be the best player ever. not sure if he cares, he’ll prob get more endorsement deals in miami therefore it comes down to $$ and partying with all the fine ladies in miami. but again, jordan the best player ever would never have called the 2nd best player in the league magic to play with him. if he played now, he might call 3rd wheel bosh to play.

  20. rorjr99 - Jul 20, 2010 at 4:01 AM

    Michael Jordan played with Pippen and Grant… they all were draft picks who grew together, while Jordan took the mantle as the head honcho… he wouldn’t have played with Magic & Bird (or his boys Ewing or Barkley) because he wanted the distinction of being the best. He did however get talked into repping the US with the Dream Teamers, because we were tired of sending our Amateurs effectively against the World’s pros – a one time deal.
    I know everyone thinks the world of Jackson… but it was really Tex Winters Triangle Offense that gave alpha players the best chances to win with role players (Jordan & Kobe).
    At this point the only super-star out of the Miami Three is Wade… seeing he is the only one who won a championship. LBJ is a specimen… but at this point he is about as great as Shawn Kemp (and that is not meant as disrespect – just think about the hype for both of them and see what they did on the court).
    And though I am a KNICK fan (I know – a glutton for punishment)… Kobe is thr Alpha Player right now and the LAKESHOW is the team to beat >.

  21. Oh Yeah! - Jul 20, 2010 at 5:33 AM

    You got it! This dumb ass is getting defensive just cause he lives in Florida. WTF? If Lebron signed somewhere else he’d probably be persecuting him.

  22. All Wrong - Jul 20, 2010 at 5:39 AM

    There’s a big difference here. The guys MJ, Magic & Bird played with were not “creme de la creme superstars” before teaming up. Each did not make 8 figure salaries before ending up together. These teammates made each other better and richer, but in that order. Compare apples to apples please!

  23. DavidR - Jul 20, 2010 at 5:54 AM

    Justify bringing the QUEEN down to Miami.. You can’t be the KING playing second fiddle to DW. The Bulls were built around Jordan. The Bulls went from 84-90 building the Dynasty of the 90’s. The only difference between Jordan and LBJ. Jordan got the most out of the players who played with him. When BJ Armstrong took the money and Ran as did Horace Grant. THEY did nothing after that. Why Jordan made them better. As great an indvidual player James is, he can’t get the most out of his supporting cast. So to cover up that flaw he and Wade and Bosh combine their talents and will win a championship but unlike Jordan… Instead of being THE MAN, he will be THE PIECE.
    Jordan had the fortitude to stay with it and help build the Bulls. James is a quitter.

  24. life outside Miam - Jul 20, 2010 at 6:16 AM

    Ira…I generally like your columns…however there is life outside “Miami Thrice”…you’re not the authority anywhere beyond Dade/Broward counties…and don’t be so frickin sure these guys are going to be the big winners you think they are..remember there’s only ONE small ball and THREE GIGANTIC EGOS..

  25. FredS - Jul 20, 2010 at 6:24 AM

    Do you actually read what you are writing or is it a slow day. Jordan had more desire to win than LeLoser. He won with a cast of player which made up a team and a good coach. If you don’t believe Jordan than you’re a plain idiot or just a stupid sports reporter. Oh Yeah, someone less intelligent than a McD worker is a sports reporter. Jordan won the the Olympics with Magic, Bird, Barkley and some great player and still won without them in the regular season.

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