Michael Jordan Instructed Ahmad Rashad Not to Speak to Scott Burrell Before Game 7 of ’98 ECF vs. Pacers: ‘You’ll Scare the S— Out of Him’
Michael Jordan only played in three Game 7s during his legendary run with the Chicago Bulls. The first one took place in the 1990 Eastern Conference Finals against the Detroit Pistons. The Bulls got blown out in Detroit by a final score of 93-74.
The second Game 7 Jordan played in was against the New York Knicks in the 1992 Eastern Conference Semifinals. Behind 42 points from MJ, the Bulls easily defeated the Knicks, 110-81.
The third and final Game 7 Jordan took part in came in the 1998 Eastern Conference Finals versus the Indiana Pacers. His Airness told reporters after the Bulls lost Game 6 that they would win Game 7 at home. However, that didn’t stop the NBA legend from instructing NBC reporter Ahmad Rashad not to speak to Bulls forward Scott Burrell before the game.
Michael Jordan told Ahmad Rashad not to speak to Scott Burrell
In Episode 9 of The Last Dance docuseries, Jordan is seen on camera telling Rashad not to speak to Burrell before Game 7 against the Pacers. Rashad told Jordan, “Some can, some can’t, that’s just the way it is,” as his way of motiving him for the game, and the five-time MVP responded by telling his good friend not to talk to Burrell because he would scare him.
“You stay away from Scott Burrell,” Jordan said. “You’re not instructed to talk to Scott Burrell. You’ll scare the s— out of him.”
Jordan and Burrell had an interesting relationship. The former basically attacked the latter in practice almost every day and even tried to get the UConn product to fight him to strengthen him mentally and physically. This dynamic was documented in Episode 7 of The Last Dance.
Michael Jordan picked on Scott Burrell a lot
Jordan and Burrell were teammates for only one season. However, the former made sure the latter never forgot what it was like to be in the trenches with him. Jordan essentially picked on Burrell in practice as his way of pushing and challenging him.
“Scotty Burrell was a talented guy,” Jordan said in The Last Dance. “What Scotty was lacking was commitment, determination, seriousness. So he became, you know, my guy to kinda push, keep pushing. I tried to get him to fight me a couple of times, in a good sense. Just to get him, ‘I’m tired of you picking on me.’ You know, that type of mentality. I could never get him to do it. He’s such a nice guy. But I know we were gonna need him at some point in time, and he’s gonna remember this, and he’s gonna get out there, and he’s gonna fight.”
Burrell only averaged 5.2 points during the 1997-98 regular season. However, he made Jordan proud in Game 3 of the Bulls’ first-round matchup against the New Jersey Nets by scoring 23 points in 24 minutes on 9-of-11 shooting from the field.
As for Game 7 of the ’98 Eastern Conference Finals versus the Pacers, Burrell didn’t have an impact on that game, playing only five minutes. Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Toni Kukoc, and Steve Kerr led Chicago to a hard-fought win over Reggie Miller and Co.
Bulls beat Pacers by only five points
With the Bulls down 77-74 late in the fourth quarter, Kerr hit a 3-pointer to tie the game at the six-minute mark. In Episode 9 of The Last Dance, Miller said that Kerr’s shot was the biggest field goal of the series.
The Bulls outscored the Pacers 19-18 in the fourth quarter and won the game by a final score of 88-83. Jordan finished with 28 points, Kukoc poured in 21, Pippen put up 17, and Kerr chipped in 11.
Jordan wound up leading the Bulls to their sixth title against the Utah Jazz in the ’98 Finals. Burrell only averaged 3.5 points in the Finals, but he was on the right team at the right time and got a championship out of it.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.