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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).

Bunk.

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 NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

212 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. Jim - Jul 20, 2010 at 1:39 PM

    Not shocking that a Florida writer would write this.
    The big deal about Lebron leaving is that he will never again be seen as a team leader, and we all thought he was. Michael would NEVER have gone to a team where he wasn’t the leader of the team. He might have joined forces with another all-star, but it would always be Jordan’s team. Ditto Kobe. You just can’t say that about the Miami trio. It is still absolutely and completely Dwayne Wade’s team. We all thought Lebron was a Michael or a Kobe…and in reality he’s Scottie Pippen…a very good player and an all-star, but not a #1.

  2. Gary - Jul 20, 2010 at 1:57 PM

    I don’t blame Lebron for a second. Who is anybody else to judge? He did what he thought was best for him. Just like MJ said, times have changed. These are Lebron’s glory days. It’s time for past heroes to step back and let him do his best.

  3. dazedcat - Jul 20, 2010 at 2:04 PM

    Jordan is right, he wouldn’t have. Neither would Bird or Johnson or Patrick Ewing or anyone else from that era who was considered an elite player. Now of course they do and are shameless about doing so. Hey why not, the money endorsements and glory are all there for them and they can Tweet to their hearts content to the “fans”. This is why the NBA now officially sucks. Oh and when King James vanishes come May of next year, enjoy the worship Heat fan.

  4. LongLiveQueenJames - Jul 20, 2010 at 2:13 PM

    “Jordan – He had the ultimate side kick in Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant was no slouch in ’91, ’92, and ’93.” WRONG! When Jordan left, Pippen was nothing to write home about. And Grant led the league in FGP because he came in on the weak side and put back anything Jordan missed while being triple teamed. His jump shot for outside 2 feet was HORRIBLE!!! I’m from Cleveland, hated Jordan, but no denying he made those guys the teammates they were. The Cartwights, Armstrongs, ____s (fill in the blank) he played with. Knowing Jordan’s competitiveness, he would succumb to the “if ya can’t beat ‘em, then join ‘em” mentality.
    Loved Jim’s comments a few above about a FLA writer. So right, James is now Queen James in D Wade’s court. That will be the “Chosen One’s” legacy. Sorry he left, of course. But I think it was a reputation breaking move.

  5. ol skool - Jul 20, 2010 at 2:15 PM

    Bloomberg: “Magic Johnson said he never would have joined Larry Bird to win a championship the way LeBron James is teaming with Dwayne Wade.”

  6. Anonymous - Jul 20, 2010 at 2:55 PM

    like!

  7. Chris - Jul 20, 2010 at 3:00 PM

    Scottie wasn’t as good as Wade? Hell yeah he was, Scottie Pippen was one of the 50 greatest of all time! Lol, he has 6 rings? He won the scoring title when Jordan retired…All Start game MVP…Pippen was a hell of a player. And much better all around player than Lebron will ever be. And I HATED the Bulls…I’m a born and raised Pistons fan. But Scottie deserves his props.

  8. PippenWasAverage - Jul 20, 2010 at 3:15 PM

    Better check your history books there Chris. He NEVER won a scoring title. Just led the Bulls 1 season w/ 22ppg. He was never that good and has 6 rings because he rode Jordan’s coat tails.
    Great clip on Pippen’s “greatness”:
    However, perhaps the most infamous episode of Pippen’s career came in the post-season of Pippen’s first year without Jordan. In the 1994 NBA Playoffs, the Eastern Conference semifinals pitted the Bulls against the New York Knicks, whom the Bulls had dispatched en route to a championship in each of the previous three seasons. On May 13, 1994, down 0–2 in the series and tied 102-102 in Game Three, Bulls coach Phil Jackson needed a big play from his team to have any chance of going on to the conference finals. With 1.8 seconds left and the score tied, Jackson designed the last play for rookie Toni Kukoc, with Pippen charged with inbounding the basketball. Pippen, who had been the Bulls’ leader all season long in Jordan’s absence, was so angered by Jackson’s decision to not let him take the potential game-winner that he refused to leave the bench and re-enter the game when the timeout was over.
    Although Kukoc did hit the game-winner, a 23-foot fadeaway jumper at the buzzer, there was little celebrating to be done by the Bulls, as television cameras caught an unsmiling Phil Jackson storming off the court. “Scottie asked out of the play,” Jackson would tell reporters moments later in the post-game interview room.

  9. PippenWasAverage - Jul 20, 2010 at 3:18 PM

    Better check your history books there Chris. He NEVER won a scoring title. Just led the Bulls 1 season w/ 22ppg. He was never that good and has 6 rings because he rode Jordan’s coat tails.
    Great clip on Pippen’s “greatness”:
    However, perhaps the most infamous episode of Pippen’s career came in the post-season of Pippen’s first year without Jordan. In the 1994 NBA Playoffs, the Eastern Conference semifinals pitted the Bulls against the New York Knicks, whom the Bulls had dispatched en route to a championship in each of the previous three seasons. On May 13, 1994, down 0–2 in the series and tied 102-102 in Game Three, Bulls coach Phil Jackson needed a big play from his team to have any chance of going on to the conference finals. With 1.8 seconds left and the score tied, Jackson designed the last play for rookie Toni Kukoc, with Pippen charged with inbounding the basketball. Pippen, who had been the Bulls’ leader all season long in Jordan’s absence, was so angered by Jackson’s decision to not let him take the potential game-winner that he refused to leave the bench and re-enter the game when the timeout was over.
    Although Kukoc did hit the game-winner, a 23-foot fadeaway jumper at the buzzer, there was little celebrating to be done by the Bulls, as television cameras caught an unsmiling Phil Jackson storming off the court. “Scottie asked out of the play,” Jackson would tell reporters moments later in the post-game interview room.

  10. BIG JOHN FROM OHIO - Jul 20, 2010 at 4:03 PM

    I CAN’T BELIEVE MJ SLAMMED lEBRON LIKE THAT. LOOK LEBRON MADE A GREAT DECISION. WE CONGRTAULATED RILES FOR MANEUVERING THIS TANDEM(LEBRON,WADE, AND BOSH)TO MIAMI. BUT WE FORGET THAT THE PLAYERS ARE THE ONES WHO HAVETHE FINAL DECISION. THIS WAS A BRILLIANT MOVE ON THE PART OF BRON, WADE AND BOSH. LOOK, IF MJ HAD A CHANCE TO PLAY ALONGSIDE MAGIC AND BIRD HE WOULD HAVE. IF CARMELLO COULD PLAY ALONGSIDE BRON AND KEVIN DURANT HE WOULD. IF KAREEM HAD A CHANCE TO PLAY ALONGSIDE RUSSELL AND CHAMBERLAIN, DOES ANYONE WITH ANY KIND OF SENSE BELIEVE HE WOULD HAVE TURNED THAT CHANCE DOWN. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. CAN I SAY IT AGAIN NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. THIS IS WHAT MADE THE YANKEES SO GEAT DURING STEINBRENNERS TENURE AS THE OWNER. HE WOULD SPEND WHATEVER IT TOKK TO SIGN 9 SUPERSTARS WHO COULD START ANY GAME AT EACH POSITION. HOPEFULLY HIS SONS WILL CONTINUE THAT TRADITION. IF NOT THEY(YANKEES) WON’T WIN AS MANY CHAMPIONSHIPS. BUT GETTING BACK TO THIS MJ/LEBRON SUBJECT. STOP IT ALREADY YOU SPORTS COMMENTATORS, FANS, AND YOUWO DONT KOW A HILL OF BEANS ABOUT WINNING. LEBRON MADE A BUSINESS DECISION AND A WINNING DECISION AND WAS BRILLIANT AT BOTH. SOMEONE NEEDS TO SIGN THESE GUYS AS THERE NEXT GM IN THE NBA. I LOVE IT AND CAN’T WAIT TO SEE IT IN FULL DISPLAY THIS 2010 NAD 2011 SEASON. WHOOOOOA HOTDAM
    BIG JOHN FROM OHIO

  11. Dat - Jul 20, 2010 at 4:18 PM

    Lebron quited on the Cavs, it digusted that he left the last game with fans booed him. How else do you explain that the team that with best record in the NBA, won 60+ games, then choked in the playoffs? People keep saying his supporting cast sucked, how could it be? they were supposed to win championship last year, supposed to be biggest threat to the Lakers, Lebron supposed to be the best player in the world, they got Jamison in a fishy trade. The Cavs did everything possible to please Lebron. It was a title or bust. People don’t understand how overhyped that Cavs team was. Danny Ferry was supposed to be GM of the year. Lebron won the MVP, he celebrated it like he just won the title. Bottom line is that, Lebron quited, then blamed it on his teammates and the owner. If you are THE MAN on your team, share credits, and take the blame yourself. I believe Lebron is going to regret for leaving the Cavs.

  12. image - Jul 20, 2010 at 7:15 PM

    I guess the other MJ (magic johnson) is also full of himself if we are to believe winderman here

  13. JC - Jul 20, 2010 at 11:02 PM

    “he still needed 2 Superstars to get them. (championships)” — Don’t those two superstars need him too?

  14. Larry - Jul 20, 2010 at 11:27 PM

    Bird, Magic and MJ represented a city and organization. The were the #1 player and none would have joined the other. They enjoyed th competition beating each other. that’s called loyalty and being competitive. The 3 musketeers(the Heat brothers) all need each other who were lead players on different teams to win. That’s called being a bunch of sissies. Their quest of owning a ring has taken the personal integrity out of their games. I call it gutless.
    Ira is a tool and a sissy.

  15. Drew - Jul 21, 2010 at 1:09 AM

    What about Barkley, Pippen and Olajuwon teaming up in Houston? They didn’t have the same plan in mind? Granted, they were a little past their prime, but that’s two franchise players and a great role player on one team. It didn’t work out. Is Boston’s Big 3 illegitimate because they were paired together? Nobody thinks any less of those players because they won a ring even though each “failed” individually to bring their teams to the promised land. As Herm Edwards says, you play to win the game. There will still be challenges. The Heat will be playing with a bullseye on their back every single game they play. They will still have to get through the Celtics, Bulls, Magic and probably the Lakers out of the West – no easy task.

  16. DavidR - Jul 21, 2010 at 4:10 AM

    Right on the Money Fletch..

  17. luffy - Jul 21, 2010 at 5:48 AM

    Nice one fletch…
    I wonder how is LBJ feeling right now? Being looked down by the great ones, what a shame, what a loser…
    2007 – Finals
    2008 – East Finals
    2009 – Best Record in the NBA
    2010 – Best Record in the NBA
    Is this not a good team? Wow Ira, you are so brilliant to attract basketball fans using your stupidity…

  18. nolly - Jul 21, 2010 at 9:46 AM

    I agree, Jordan’s remarks were ridiculous. He himself could not have won six rings, even with a great sidekick and supporting cast without Phil Jackson. He never was able to beat Magic and Larry! Just like Kobe, who has not won anything without Phil. Jordan played nine years without winning anything, until PJ came.

  19. Killer - Jul 21, 2010 at 2:52 PM

    Ira, u r a idiot, who wants to argue, u never played the game of basketball. U don’t know jack. All these comments are meaningless, the bottom line is this, Mike never thought of calling Bird or Magic and vice versa. These guys were basketball junkies and competed at a very high level. Nice try Ira.

  20. LeDiva Is Wack - Jul 21, 2010 at 3:02 PM

    Nice one fletch…
    I wonder how is LBJ feeling right now? Being looked down by the great ones, what a shame, what a loser…
    2007 – Finals
    2008 – East Finals
    2009 – Best Record in the NBA
    2010 – Best Record in the NBA
    Is this not a good team? Wow Ira, you are so brilliant to attract basketball fans using your stupidity…
    ^^^^ This is so freakin true. Why is everyone saying LeDiva didn’t have any talent around him, or his supporting cast sucked. If they sucked so bad, then those 4 years would not have been like that. You don’t win with a suck supporting cast… LeDiva just didn’t have that killer instinct to win when it counted… Lets not forget his shooting % in that last game vs Boston… so please people stop blaming his supporting cast. Cause when ever ANY TEAM in the NBA wins, then people wanna say, the role players are sooooo great, but when they lose, then you wanna say they suck… it’s a bunch of B.S. LeDiva had a good team and him being the leader didn’t LEAD!!!

  21. NollyGetYourFactsStraight - Jul 21, 2010 at 3:05 PM

    Nolly get your facts straight
    Jordan won in his 7th year, not 9… get your facts straight! and how many Rings did PJ win without MJ or KB? hmmmmmmmmmmm

  22. Heels & Helmets - Jul 21, 2010 at 3:36 PM

    I agree. I don’t think MJ can compare his situation to LBJ’s. Jordan was never a free agent. Jordan signed a seven-year contract with the Bulls after he was drafted in 1984. In 1988, he signed an eight-year extension. This took him to the mid- 1990s and his mid-thirties. LeBron was a young free agent and every team (along with the rest of the basketball world) had been counting down to July 1, 2010 since the summer of 2006 when he signed an extension with the Cavs. My other points are at this link. http://heelsnhelmets.blogspot.com/2010/07/im-not-sure-michael-jordan-would-not.html

  23. Tony - Jul 21, 2010 at 4:25 PM

    Why, he is a lier! He never won anything on his own. Pippen won every ring for him, yet he wont even talk to Pippen.Most of the Bulls couldn’t stand him! As he gets older a lot of things are comming out about him and he was a pure piece of crap! LeBron, Wade or Kobe are all better than him!

  24. Chris - Jul 21, 2010 at 5:54 PM

    Stop the group-think, people. Jordan wasn’t in LeBron’s position and has no idea how he’d feel if he was. Simple as that. One player doesn’t win a championship, a team does. Statistically LeBron is Jordan’s equal too, btw.

  25. troy - Jul 23, 2010 at 9:28 PM

    Ira’s argument is ridiculous! Dwayne Wade is a top 3 NBA player; Chris Bosh top 10. Are people on this forum actually trying to justify LeBron’s move by saying that Horace Grant and Scottie Pippen were top 3 and top 10 players?!?!?!
    Nobody is saying that MJ’s team was all garbage. But LeBron’s move is equivalent to Bird and Johnson joining forces or Jordan and Isiah Thomas. Pippen was good, but he was no Dwayne Wade. Case in point, look at how successful Pippen was without Jordan (he wasn’t). Dwayne Wade excelled by himself in Miami.
    Also, all these great players that are getting mentioned stayed on their original team which built around them! They didn’t go seeking the best players in the league to win the easy way.
    Maybe instead of signing or trading for overrated and old players (Jamison, Shaq), the Cavs should have drafted a young guy to build a team around LeBron.

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