Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan routinely got mad at teammates and opponents during his storied NBA career. His level of competitiveness was on another level compared to the other players in the ’90s, and that ferocity helped him become a six-time champion, six-time Finals MVP, and five-time regular-season MVP.
There were a few times, though, where Jordan was furious at himself. The shooting guard’s expectations for his game were higher than what fans and teammates wanted from him.
At the beginning of his career, Michael Jordan didn’t like Reggie Theus, who was traded by the Bulls to the Kansas City Kings the season before Chicago drafted MJ. His Airness wanted to destroy Theus whenever they played, but one game, the Bulls icon came up short of his goal.
Reggie Theus was the star in Chicago before Michael Jordan came to town
Reggie Theus played the first 441 games of his NBA career with the Bulls. Chicago drafted him with the ninth overall pick in the 1978 draft out of UNLV.
The Bulls were awful during the Theus era, but the combo guard put up solid numbers and made two All-Star teams. The California native finished his Bulls career with averages of 18.8 points and 5.6 assists.
Theus’ run with the Bulls ended on February 15, 1984. Chicago traded him to the Kings for Steve Johnson, a 1984 second-round pick and two second-round picks in the 1985 draft. Because Chicago was so poor during the 1983-84 season, the team ended up with the third overall pick in the 1984 draft.
The Bulls drafted Michael Jordan in 1984, and he came into the league with a chip on his shoulder due to the comments Reggie Theus made when he was traded.
Why was Michael Jordan mad at Reggie Theus?
When Reggie Theus got traded by the Bulls to the Kings, he said no rookie could replace him in Chicago. Michael Jordan not only remembered those comments after getting drafted, but he also made it a point to attack Theus.
There was one game between the Bulls and Kings where Jordan told Kenny Smith he would score 45 points against Theus. MJ ended up with 43, coming up two points shy of his objective.
Jordan was so upset he didn’t get to 45 points that he went into the Kings locker room after the game and told Theus he’ll see him the next time they play in Chicago. Smith recounted the story in 2011 on NBA TV.
“He was really mad at Reggie Theus because when Reggie got traded, Michael was the draft pick coming in, and Reggie was like, ‘There’s no guy that can replace me that’s a rookie.’ So he (MJ) said, ‘Just tell Reggie that I’m gonna get 45 tonight.’ So I went to the locker room and said, ‘Reggie, Michael said he’s gonna get 45 tonight.’ So he ended up with 43. And so he comes into the locker room and said, ‘I didn’t get 45, but you gotta come to Chicago.’ He was mad that he didn’t get 45.”
Michael Jordan may be the only player in NBA history to be upset at himself for scoring 43 points and not getting one more basket to reach 45. His mindset and determination to be an assassin on the court made him the basketball purist he was.
MJ made Bulls fans forget about Theus quickly
Reggie Theus was the best player on the Bulls during his time in Chicago. However, Michael Jordan quickly made fans forget about the floor general.
MJ won the 1984-85 Rookie of the Year Award by averaging 28.2 points per game. He was must-see television from the moment he entered the league.
After the Bulls surrounded Jordan with more talent, the franchise became a dynasty. Chicago won three consecutive championships in the early ’90s and three more in 1996, 1997, and 1998.
Michael Jordan averaged 31.5 points per game with the Bulls. His impact on the organization and city of Chicago was tremendous, and his legacy will never be forgotten.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.