Phil Jackson would let Michael Jordan rest during certain practices and Horace Grant would not appreciate that, according to Scottie Pippen.
Other than his sophomore season with the Chicago Bulls where he missed over 60 games due to a broken left foot, Michael Jordan was quite the iron-man. He played 78 of possible 82 games in every single season with the Bulls barring the ‘95 (return from baseball) and the aforementioned 1985-96 season.
In those seasons, Jordan averaged around 38 minutes a night, which is quite a bit of play if you were playing every single game of the season. For a superstar of MJ’s caliber, keeping him healthy was the number one priority for Jerry Reinsdorf and company.
Of course, the 38 mpg standard wasn’t always followed as close games against rival teams brought out his innate competitiveness. Resulting in Michael Jordan staying in the game longer. Whether it was 44 minutes played a night or even 46, ‘His Airness’ showed up and showed out.
However, the repercussions of him playing that much led to his internal turmoil.
Scottie Pippen on Michael Jordan and Horace Grant.
Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant came into the NBA in the same 1987 NBA Draft and so their bond on the Chicago Bulls was quite string. While Grant was a solid player and contributed significantly to Chicago’s first 30peat, he felt as though he was quite underappreciated.
Couple that with the fact that his teammates believed he was Sam Smith’s source on his book bashing Michael Jordan and it was inevitable Horace would leave them. He would join the Orlando Magic and actually knock the ‘95 Bulls out of the Playoffs in the ECSF.
Scottie Pippen recently opened up about his relationship with both Horace Grant and Jordan. Pip would say that Grant did not like the fact that Phil Jackson allowed Michael to skip practices after playing a grueling game the night before, especially if he had clocked in about 45 minutes or so.
With Grant leaving, Pippen grew closer to Michael as he would eventually become his longest tenured teammate by the time their final season came around in 1998.