During the ’90s, when he starred for the Chicago Bulls, Michael Jordan was under immense pressure to perform on the basketball court. The spotlight was also on him every time he left his house or hotel room and was in public.
With the weight of the sports world seemingly on his shoulders, Jordan could have dealt with anxiety or had trouble sleeping since everyone expected him to score 40 points every game for the Bulls.
However, Jordan not only understood the expectations that were placed on him, but he also never shied away from them.
Michael Jordan: I have an understanding of what expectations I can meet
Jordan was under pressure to be “on” all the time with people. He had to perform every single night since he knew that everybody, for every game, was likely there to see him play and dominate.
The expectations and hoopla surrounding him could have taken a toll on Jordan, but he remained calm by setting his own standards. However, he did admit in 1997 to SLAM magazine that he felt the stress of having to be “the man” every game. After all, MJ is human.
“I have an understanding of what expectations I can meet,” Jordan said. “I have my own expectations. By no means can you live up to the fans’ expectations of what you’re supposed to achieve. It’s challenging (being the man). It’s part of the expectations.”
Sleep is an essential part of recovery and mental health. Many athletes deal with insomnia because they are afraid to fail and can’t handle the burden of being a superstar. However, Jordan never had issues sleeping and never dealt with a bad stomach since he controlled what he could control.
Michael Jordan: ‘I sleep well at night’
In the same interview with SLAM from 1997, Jordan said he slept well at night despite having the eyes of the sports world on him at all times.
“I go to sleep, and I sleep well at night,” Jordan said. “And, well, yeah, I think about what my responsibilities are, but I never shy away from them. I accept them and then go out and do the best I can. That’s all I can ever do.”
In Episode 6 of The Last Dance docuseries, Bulls senior director of public and media relations Tim Hallam said being Jordan is an impossible task. The Bulls superstar had zero privacy in public and had to play like the best player in the world every game. If he didn’t, fans would leave the stadium upset since they paid a lot of money to watch Black Jesus at work, only to get an underwhelming performance.
The life Jordan lived during his Bulls career seemed to be spectacular from the outside looking in. However, the six-time champion admitted that his lifestyle wasn’t as extraordinary as it was painted.
MJ: This is not a lifestyle that you should envy
Despite making millions of dollars and being one of the most well-known people in the world, Jordan said the lifestyle he lived in the ’90s wasn’t one that people should envy. The six-time Finals MVP talked about that in Episode 6 of The Last Dance.
“This is not one of those lifestyles that you envy, you know?” Jordan said. “You’re confined to this (hotel) room. I’m ready for getting out of this life. You know when you get to that point. I’m there and with no reservations at all. I’m there.”
After winning his sixth title in 1998, Jordan retired from the NBA for a second time. However, he came back in 2001 with the Washington Wizards before retiring for good in 2003. The five-time MVP stayed out of the limelight after his Wizards stint, but that changed in 2010 when he became the majority governor of the Charlotte Hornets.
Jordan heard so many people say they wanted to be him for a day or for a week, but it turns out that being the Bulls legend wasn’t always fun, especially if you value privacy.