Back in 1998, Larry Bird took shots at the Chicago Bulls front office for not listening to Michael Jordan’s demands, resulting in him parting ways with the organisation.
No other player in NBA history is considered to be greater than Michael Jordan. The Chicago Bulls superstar was the face of the league and one of the most renowned personalities in the world. Seeing the way Mike dominated the league for 15 years, it is no surprise why he was referred to as the basketball god.
Behind the leadership of Michael Jordan, the Bulls franchise dominated 1990s basketball. Being one of the greatest dynasties ever, Chicago won two successful three-peats and also finished with a flawless 72-10 season, all in an 8-year span.
However, things weren’t as smooth as they were seeming to be from the outside. As we all saw for the docu-series “The Last Dance”, the Bulls organisation did have a lot of drama amongst players, coaching staff and the management.
“The management should bow down and do as Michael Jordan demands”: Larry Bird, back in 1998
It is no surprise that MJ had a bitter relation with the Bulls then-General Manager Jerry Krause. Despite all the successes the team saw, Jerry was hell-bent on parting ways with coach Phil Jackson after the 1998 season, even if he would go 82-0 and win the sixth championship.
Publicly, Jordan warned the organisation that he would retire from the league if Jackson wasn’t the head coach. Despite receiving several threats from the players, Jerry stuck to his decision.
Boston legend and then-Indiana coach Larry Bird didn’t agree with Chicago’s management this decision. Rather, Larry believed that the management should bow down and meet all of Michael Jordan’s demands. In an interview during the 1998 All-Star Game, Bird said:
“Michael Jordan is playing for my team, and he wants a certain individual to coach him. I think I would bow down and let him have him to keep it going. These championships are hard to get, and if Michael leaves, it’ll be easier for everyone else.”
Obviously, Krause didn’t change his decision. The result? Chicago Bulls immediately lost two of their best players – Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. And their so-called “rebuild” was a failure.
The Bulls organisation haven’t been to the NBA Finals ever since. One can only imagine how many more championships the franchise could’ve clinched, had the stubborn Jerry Krause retained Phil Jackson as the head coach.