NBA Jordan n'effrayait pas Magic et Bird

“I cried with rage”: the match of misunderstood shame that gnaws at Michael Jordan

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An eternal competitor to the point of bordering on obsession, Michael Jordan loves only one thing in life: winning. So when his own team purposely stopped him, the young GM couldn’t hold back the tears. Throwback to an anything but glorious match…

The anecdotes are legion, and they have the merit of all going in the same direction: Michael Jordan is a compulsive competitor, sickly winner, who does not accept defeat under any circumstances. This mentality, His Airness has had since his youngest years, first in North Carolina in the NCAA, then in Chicago from 1984. Drafted by the Bulls with the 3rd pick, Jordan arrives in a rather mediocre team, who knows that she will not be able to be competitive for several years, but who manages to hang on to the playoffs.

Approaching the end of the season, while the record of the Illinois franchise is negative (38 wins for 41 losses), the management decides to lose the last two games at all costs. The goal? Go down one place in the standings, and thus obtain a more “affordable” opponent in the playoffs.

Michael Jordan in tears after match scenario

Faced with Hawks also very average, the Bulls start the 81st game of their season perfectly behind 19 points from Michael Jordan in the first quarter. So much so that at halftime, Chicago leads by 11 points. The second act then turns into a parody when the coach goes on questionable rotations and “rests” MJ much more often than usual. The Bulls collapse in the last quarter (34-15) and lose the match as expected.

On the bench, number 23 fumes, as told a few years later by GQ:

Michael Jordan is sitting on the bench, and he can’t stand what’s unfolding. It was the penultimate game of his rookie season, and that night he learned a bitter lesson. By losing this match, the Bulls could obtain a more favorable match-up in the playoffs.

Of that game, Jordan said, “I was there, trying to win, and I see the coach rocking the game. The fans started to whistle, they saw what was happening. And we lost. I was so pissed… That’s when I first found out that basketball is a business. I was so outraged that tears were streaming from my eyes.

Rebelote for the 82nd and last game of the season, clearly lost against the Nets. 7th in the East after this tanking instead of the 6th place that tended to them, the Bulls fell on the Bucks in the first round of the playoffs. And as ill-gotten gains never benefit, Sidney Moncrief and his teammates easily disposed of MJ and his clique in 4 games, in a series where Chicago never really existed.

The conclusion of Michael Jordan’s first season in the NBA was painful, not so much because of the results but because of the way the coach and the managers chose. A real affront for MJ, whose anger is still very much alive today…

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