Michael Jordan is one of the most iconic athletes ever and the man at the center of the Chicago Bulls dynasty in the 1990s. Jerry Reinsdorf is the former principal governor of the Bulls and partially responsible for breaking said dynasty up. This fall will make for an interesting scene, then, as Jordan and Reinsdorf will share the stage as presenters for Toni Kukoc when the former Sixth Man of the Year enters the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Michael Jordan and Jerry Reinsdorf have a complicated relationship
By all accounts, one would think there is a reason for Jordan and Reinsdorf to be friends seeing as Reinsdorf allowed Jordan to play for his baseball franchise, the Chicago White Sox, when he gave up basketball and consistently made MJ the highest-paid player in the NBA toward the end of his career. Then again, perhaps not.
Air Jordan is not one to let perceived slights slip through the cracks. He was miffed that the Bulls put him on a minutes limit when he came back from a broken foot in his second season. More famously, Jordan was enraged at Reinsdorf saying he would regret paying his superstar $30 million, per Bleacher Report.
Still, all that likely pales in comparison to Jordan’s frustration at Bulls ownership breaking up the dynasty after Chicago won the 1998 NBA title. During the final episode of ESPN’s Last Dance docuseries, he explained that he never asked Reinsdorf why management went in a different direction and that he made up his own assumptions as to why.
Reinsdorf hardly inhibited Jordan’s rise to being a global icon, as if anybody could. Yet, the little tensions on the way to building one of the best dynasties in NBA history made for a complicated relationship.
Jordan and Reinsdorf will present Toni Kukoc at the Hall of Fame
Michael Jordan and Jerry Reinsdorf are both members of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. They will be on hand to present yet another member of the Bulls dynasties to the Hall in September.
Toni Kukoc will be inducted this fall as part of the class of 2021. The Croatian star was a key cog for the Bulls teams in the late 1990s, winning the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year Award during the 1995-1996 season and setting the tone with his shooting and offensive playmaking.
It’s curious that Jordan is one of Kukoc’s presenters. Jordan and Scottie Pippen hounded Kukoc during the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona to send a message to then-Bulls general manager Jerry Krause, who had long coveted Kukoc. Although Kukoc earned the respect of Jordan and Pippen upon joining the Bulls, Krause’s love for him always made things a bit interesting.
Nevertheless, Kukoc told ESPN’s Zach Lowe he feels MJ is the best and most important player in the sport’s history. He acknowledges the greatness of his former teammate, who will now prepare to welcome him to the Hall of Fame.
The moment should and will be about Kukoc, though it’ll certainly be interesting to see the dynamic between Jordan and Reinsdorf.
Can Jordan bury the hatchet?
Michael Jordan can still be a bit vindictive. That said, he has shown signs of easing off the gas pedal in recent years.
Most recently, Jordan sat down for an interview with “Australian Story” to detail his relationship with former Chicago Bulls center Luc Longley. Jordan said he regretted leaving Longley off the Last Dance and hailed his competitiveness, even saying Longley made him a better player.
Will Jordan bring a softened approach to his interactions with Jerry Reinsdorf when the two celebrate Toni Kukoc at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame this fall? Time will tell. That competitive spirit still burns inside him. However, Air Jordan might decide once and for all that it’s time to forgive and forget.