Following the 1987-88 season, Chicago traded Charles Oakley — a promising big man who excelled at grabbing rebounds — to the New York Knicks for Bill Cartwright, a former All-Star who now came off the bench.
Needless to say, Jordan wasn’t happy, and he quickly took out his aggressiveness on Cartwright.
Michael Jordan bullied Bulls teammate Bill Cartwright
Michael Jordan wanted to win by any means necessary, and he didn’t think that Bill Cartwright would help accomplish that goal.
When the Bulls began preparing for the 1988-89 season, Jordan made his frustrations quite clear. According to Yahoo Sports, Jordan called Cartwright “Medical Bill” during practices.
Jordan also threw “impossible-to-handle passes at him in practice to draw attention to what he perceived to be his bad hands.”
Obviously, there are far worse bullying examples in sports. Longtime NFL guard Richie Incognito and other teammates on the Miami Dolphins bullied guard Jonathan Martin during the 2012-13 seasons. Incognito specifically used racial slurs against Martin, who is Black, in a voicemail.
What makes this interesting, though, is Jordan was six years younger than Cartwright. In the other incidents, Incognito and Hall were both significantly older than Martin and Williams.
But Jordan had the power in Chicago, and he made it known that he wouldn’t tolerate Cartwright if the latter didn’t help him win.
Charles Oakley became a star with the New York Knicks
The Chicago Bulls took a massive risk trading Charles Oakley when they did.
Oakley spent 10 seasons with the Knicks, growing into an impactful starting forward who could always hold his own in the Eastern Conference. In 777 games with the Knicks, Oakley averaged 10.1 points, 9.9 rebounds, and 1.1 steals per night.
An All-Star in 1994, Oakley added 10.8 points and 10.1 rebounds per game in 113 playoff outings.
Oakley lasted in the NBA until he played his final game alongside Steve Francis on the Houston Rockets in April 2004.
Bill Cartwright helped Michael Jordan win three rings
Charles Oakley became a star on the New York Knicks, but Bill Cartwright helped the Chicago Bulls win three titles.
The player who Jordan mockingly called “Medical Bill” averaged 9.2 points and 5.5 rebounds in 397 games with the Bulls across six seasons. The team’s starting center for much of that time, Cartwright added 7.8 points and five rebounds in 100 postseason games on the Bulls.
Chicago won three straight NBA titles from 1991-93 with Cartwright at center. Jordan won another three championships with the Bulls when he returned from baseball in the spring of 1995, although Cartwright was long gone by that point.