Michael Jordan Learned a Valuable Lesson From His Veterans During His Rookie Season With the Bulls: ‘Not to Be Like Them’

The Chicago Bulls drafted Michael Jordan with the third overall pick in the 1984 NBA Draft. Despite being the youngest player on the team, the UNC product was forced to be the leader for several reasons.

Not only did Jordan’s teammates have a losing mentality, but they also partied a lot, and some guys did drugs. As a result, the shooting guard learned a valuable lesson from his veterans, and it was to not be like them.

Michael Jordan: The attitude was pretty acceptable here, of losing, so I was trying to break the mold

Jordan told SLAM Magazine in 1997 that he quickly learned to do things the opposite way his teammates did as a rookie. The Bulls had a losing culture, so MJ knew he would have to turn the franchise around by himself.

“Not to be like them [laughs]. You know, go out there, and … I learned how to be a leader in all respects,” Jordan said. “Just try to lead them or help them out of their situation of losing all the time. The attitude was pretty acceptable here, of losing, so I was trying to break the mold.”

The Bulls missed the playoffs three consecutive years before drafting Jordan. Since he was a rookie, His Airness couldn’t be a vocal leader. He had to lead by example, and one of the ways he achieved that was by not partying with his teammates.

Michael Jordan didn’t party with his teammates

Jordan was so focused on basketball as a rookie that he didn’t go out with his teammates to clubs and party with them. He learned in the preseason that some of his teammates weren’t good people to be around.

“I had one event, preseason. I think we were in Peoria,” Jordan said in Episode 1 of The Last Dance docuseries. “It was in a hotel. So I’m trying to find my teammates. So I start knocking on doors. I get to this one door, and I knock on the door, and I can hear someone says, ‘Shh, someone’s outside.’ And then you hear this deep voice says, ‘Who is it?’ I say, ‘MJ.’ And they all say, ‘Oh, f—, he’s just a rookie. Don’t worry about it.’ So they open up the door. I walk in, and practically the whole team was in there, and it was like things I’ve never seen in my life as a young kid. You got your lines over here, you got your weed smokers over here, you got your women over here. So the first thing I said, ‘Look, man, I’m out.’ Because all I can think about [is] if they come and raid this place right about now, I am just as guilty as everybody else that’s in this room. From that point on, I was more or less on my own.”

Jordan enjoyed hanging out at his place, playing cards, and watching movies. His primary focus was to get rest, play basketball and turn the Bulls around, and he accomplished those goals with flying colors.

MJ won ROY, guided Bulls to playoffs, eventually won six rings


Michael Jordan Received Enormous Admiration From Isiah Thomas After Dominating the NBA as a Rookie: ‘It Just Didn’t Seem Real’

Jordan won the 1984-85 Rookie of the Year Award and guided the Bulls to the playoffs. The 10-time scoring champion not only never missed the playoffs with Chicago, but he also won six titles and went 6-0 in the Finals during the ’90s.

Jordan never got in trouble with the law during his Hall of Fame career. He stayed away from the teammates who were doing illegal things when he was a rookie and was motivated to win as many titles as he could by any means necessary.

Behind Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Phil Jackson, the Bulls won six rings and established themselves as one of the top dynasties in sports history. Had Black Jesus hung around the wrong teammates as a rookie, he may not have turned into arguably the greatest player in NBA history and could have gone down the wrong path.