Over the last few weeks, ESPN’s The Last Dance documentary that focuses on the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls team has provided more insight on Michael Jordan. It has given an in-depth of Jordan as a player and teammate that has shown what made him tick on the basketball court. A part of that was his leadership qualities, as it was part of his character to lead often in a harsh manner that didn’t exactly rub everyone the right way. It’s something that fellow Hall of Famer Charles Barkley made quite clear that Jordan knew who he could push further than other teammates.
Michael Jordan’s brash leadership approach
Jordan has firmly established himself as arguably the greatest player in NBA history.
Beyond his talent and work ethic, it was also fueled by his mental approach to the game. That was quite assertive with how he went about his craft as it influenced how he went about working with his teammates.
His self excellence on the court raised the standards even higher to his teammates around him to abide. In other words, Jordan demanded that same commitment and dedication to the game of basketball that he had himself.
That didn’t always create the best relationships with teammates, but it earned respect concerning his devotion to his craft.
Charles Barkley knew Michael Jordan was selective with his harshness
Throughout the first eight episodes of The Last Dance documentary, it has become quite clear that Jordan was the driving force on the court and in the locker room.
That saw him push the buttons of his teammates at times to get the most out of them. It’s something that Barkley recently noted that Jordan only went about it by picking on players he knew that could handle it. (H/T CBS Sports)
“You know he has selective prosecution over there, right? He knows who to pick on,” Barkley said. “Michael is awesome, but there’s certain guys you can’t treat like that. You have to know what guys you can treat badly and they’re gonna accept it. Screaming at guys all the time and punching guys? Come on, man. there’s certain guys that would whoop the hell out of you if you tried doing that. He has selective prosecution. I mean, Scott Burrell and Steve Kerr. I mean, come on, man.”
Jordan was quite aware of when he could rule with an iron fist, and the other times, he had to take a different approach. The Last Dance documentary underlined that he could act in that brash manner with his teammates, such as Scott Burrell and Steve Kerr.
Although it often came out roughly, Jordan’s intentions were calculated to get the most out of his teammates. There are many ways that could have backfired, but over time that led to a more reliable connection on the court when it mattered most.
Does that impact Michael Jordan’s legacy?
Even before the documentary aired, it was well-known that Jordan wasn’t the easiest player to play alongside.
He was extremely demanding of his teammates to share the same passionate push for success. It’s part of his identity to get the most out of himself on the floor, which often led to frustration flushing out. These instances do paint of clearer picture of how Jordan was as a player and teammate, but his success has ultimately shaped his legacy.
If he behaved in this manner and it didn’t result in NBA titles, it would quite easy to lean in the opposite direction with his reputation. Some things are a bit harsh, but it’s what made Jordan tick as a player while driving him and the Bulls to six championships.