A ten-part documentary series about Michael Jordan and the 1997-1998 Chicago Bulls season is one of the most anticipated television events of our quarantined times. But the documentary, which will air on ESPN, has Jordan bracing himself for backlash.
"When people see this footage I'm not sure they're going to be able to understand why I was so intense, why I did the things I did, why I acted the way I acted, and why I said the things I said," Jordan says, via director Jason Hehir in an interview with Richard Deitsch of The Athletic.
"When you see the footage of [me riding with Scott Burrell], you're going to think that I'm a horrible guy," the NBA legend continues. "But you have to realize that the reason why I was treating him like that is because I needed him to be tough in the playoffs and we're facing the Indiana's and Miami's and New York's in the Eastern Conference. He needed to be tough and I needed to know that I could count on him. And those are the kind of things where people see me acting the way I acted in practice, they're not going to understand it."
Jordan also explains that his behavior was in the best interest of the team. "I pulled people along when they didn't want to be pulled. I challenged people when they didn't want to be challenged," Jordan says in an episode. "And I earned that right because my teammates who came after me didn't endure all the things that I endured."
Clearly, in Jordan's case, the means were justified by the ends: the 57-year-old left the NBA with six championship rings and broadly regarded as one of the greatest — if not the greatest — players of all time.
See the trailer below. The series debuts April 19 on ESPN.
(Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images)