Michael Jordan might be both the greatest trash talker and fiercest competitor we’ve ever seen. A man who doesn’t care what anybody thinks as he balances ruthlessness, pettiness, confidence and wit when he speaks, he’s also among the best quotes in sports history.
With “The Last Dance” having concluded now, here’s a look at the 23 most interesting quotes No. 23 said in the documentary.
“I look at him and I say, ‘Depends how bad the [expletive] headache is.’”
Jordan responding to Bulls GM Jerry Krause’s analogy on if he’d be willing to risk taking a pill to cure a headache if one in 10 of the pills in the bottle could kill him.
The point Krause was trying to make is that it wasn’t worth risking the chance Jordan could get hurt returning from injury in his second season.
“Phil put Steve Kerr guarding me. He hauls off and hits me in the chest and I haul off and hit him in the [expletive] eye.”
Jordan infamously got into a fight with Steve Kerr in a practice. A moment that, Jordan said, earned Kerr his respect.
“Oh, I hated him. And that hate carries even to this day.”
Jordan had such a fierce rivalry with Isiah Thomas and the “Bad Boy” Detroit Pistons of the late 1980s that the bitter feelings from those days still persist to even now.
“I felt like Scottie was being selfish.”
Scottie Pippen postponed his off-season surgery to right before the start of the 1997-98 season out of spite for his contract dispute. This would later lead to a trade demand from him, while he was making over $30 million less than Jordan at that time.
“It’s not an equal opportunity offence. That’s [expletive] bullshit.”
The idea of the triangle offence didn’t sit well with Jordan when first heard about it as it was going to be taking the ball out of his hands.
“I wasn’t a Phil Jackson fan when he first came in. He was coming and taking the ball out of my hands.”
Jordan didn’t hold back about his initial feelings about Phil Jackson coming in and replacing Doug Collins as head coach of the Chicago Bulls.
“There were so many times that Tex used to yell at me saying, ‘Move the ball, Move the ball! There is no ‘I’ in team.’ I said, ‘There’s an ‘I’ in win.’”
Assistant coach, and innovator of the triangle offence, Tex Winter trying to get Jordan to play more unselfishly within the new offensive scheme he and Jackson were trying to implement.
“Clyde was a threat, I’m not saying he wasn’t a threat. But being compared to him? I took offence to that.”
Coming into the 1992 NBA Finals against the Portland Trail Blazers, Jordan was heavily compared to Clyde Drexler. While he respected Drexler, Jordan thought he was the clearly superior player and used those comparisons as motivation to beat Drexler and win his second title.
“I knew Jerry Krause loved Dan Majerle. Just because Krause liked him was enough for me. You think he’s a great defensive player? OK, fine. I’m going to show you that he’s not.”
Facing the Phoenix Suns in the 1993 Finals and looking to win his third straight championship, Jordan used his contentious relationship with Krause as fuel to help him go out and prove him wrong.
“I was a little but upset I didn’t get the MVP that year and they gave it to Charles Barkley. OK, you can have that I’m going to get this.”
The 1993 MVP selection of Charles Barkley also proved to add extra lighter fuel underneath Jordan’s competitive fire in the 1993 Finals.
“They had Craig Ehlo on me at the time. Which, in all honesty, was a mistake.”
Jordan on his famous game winner in Game 5 of the Bulls’ first-round playoff series against the Cleveland Cavliers, marking the first time Jordan had advanced past the first round of the post-season. In the documentary, Ron Harper, who played for Cleveland at the time, claims he wanted to take Jordan, but Craig Ehlo got the assignment instead.
“I didn’t win without Scottie Pippen, and that’s why I consider him my best teammate of all time. He helped me so much in the way I approached the game, in the way I played the game. Whenever they speak Michael Jordan, they should speak Scottie Pippen.”
Though he criticized him at times in the documentary, Jordan made known how important Pippen was to his career as well.
“When Scottie was out Dennis was a model citizen to the point it was driving him [expletive] insane. So, when Scottie came back Dennis wanted to take a vacation. I come to practice, Phil calls me in and says Dennis wants to tell you something. When Dennis wants to tell me something, I knew it’s not something that I didn’t [expletive] want to hear.”
Jordan’s thoughts going into the meeting where Phil Jackson details Dennis Rodman’s need for a mid-season vacation in 1998.
“Phil, you let this dude go on vacation we’re not going to see him. You let this dude go to Vegas we’re definitely not going to see him.”
Jordan was rather skeptical about allowing Rodman to leave the team to go to Las Vegas for 48 hours for his mid-season vacation.
“I couldn’t take those shoes off fast enough and when I did my socks were soaked in blood.”
In what he thought would be his final game in Madison Square Garden. Jordan wore his original Air Jordan sneakers that were multiple sizes too small for his feet at that point.
“If I had to do it all over again there is no way I’d want to be considered a role model. It’s like a game that’s stacked against me. There’s no way I can win.”
The pressure to live up to his picture-perfect “Like Mike” persona weighed heavily on Jordan.
“I didn’t contribute to that. That was Horace. He was telling everything that was happening within the group.”
Horace Grant allegedly leaked information about the team to author Sam Smith for his book “The Jordan Rules.”
“I don’t have a gambling problem I have a competitiveness problem.”
Despite the noise in regards to the matter, Jordan emphatically dismissed the assertion he’s addicted to gambling in the documentary.
“My mentality was to go out and win at any cost. If you don’t want to live that regimented mentality, then you don’t need to be alongside of me.”
During his career Jordan held himself to very high standards and, in turn, held his teammates to the same standards.
“Every time I went in the [expletive] game I came out with a new scratch. It became personal with me.”
The physical toil the Indiana Pacers subjected Jordan and the Bulls to in the 1998 Eastern Conference Finals only served to further Jordan to once again reach his third straight Finals.
“Why would I think about missing a shot I haven’t taken?”
Known for his late-game heroics, Jordan revealed some of his mentality in those clutch situations and why, more often than not, it ended in glory for him.
Everybody says I pushed off. [Expletive]. His energy was going that way. I didn’t have to push him that way.”
Jordan addressing his famous “last shot” against Byron Russell and the Utah Jazz in Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals.
“It’s maddening because I think we could’ve won seven. I really believe that. We may not have, but man, to not be able to try, that’s something that I just can’t accept. For whatever reason I just can’t accept it.”
Jordan still has bitter feeling about his Bulls team being broken up by management after winning six titles in eight years, believing they could’ve chased at least one more before the end of the millennium.