Michael Jordan Shocked James Worthy by Never Suffering Serious Injury Against ‘Bad Boy’ Pistons: ‘I Don’t Know How He Came Out of It Alive’

Michael Jordan and James Worthy played together at UNC and developed a solid relationship after winning the National Championship in 1982. Even though Jordan played for the Chicago Bulls and Worthy played for the Los Angeles Lakers, the two Hall of Famers remained friends in the NBA.

Worthy was one of the few non-Bulls players to participate in ESPN’s The Last Dance docuseries. When the docuseries discussed Jordan going up against the “Bad Boy” Detroit Pistons in Episode 3, Big Game James admitted he was shocked MJ didn’t get seriously hurt.

James Worthy was surprised Michael Jordan survived “Bad Boy” Pistons

The Pistons invented the “Jordan Rules” to stop His Airness from scoring. They didn’t want Jordan to go baseline and wanted him to go left instead of right. The Pistons also trapped Superman every time he got the ball in the post and knocked him to the ground when he got into the paint.

Worthy, who faced the Pistons twice in the NBA Finals, said in The Last Dance that he couldn’t believe Jordan survived the beatings he took from the “Bad Boys.”

“Detroit had Jordan Rules just for Michael,” Worthy said. “I don’t know how he came out of it alive.”

The Pistons beat the Bulls in the 1988, 1989, and 1990 playoffs. Jordan and his teammates got physically beaten up by Detroit, and the Bulls didn’t have the mental or physical toughness to get past Isiah Thomas and Co.

However, everything changed in the summer of 1990.

Michael Jordan and Bulls changed in summer of 1990

After the Bulls lost Game 7 of the 1990 Eastern Conference Finals to the Pistons, the Chicago players showed up to the practice facility and started working out instead of going on vacation. Jordan, who didn’t weight train that much, started taking strength training seriously in the summer of 1990 so he could fight back against the Pistons.

“I was getting brutally beaten up,” Jordan said in The Last Dance. “And I wanna administer pain. I wanna start fighting back.”

Jordan put on nearly 15 pounds of muscle with the help of renowned trainer Tim Grover. By the start of the 1990-91 season, the All-Star shooting guard was ready to destroy the Pistons, and the Bulls put their rivals in their rearview mirror.

Bulls swept Pistons in 1991 Eastern Conference Finals


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The Bulls and Pistons met in the 1991 Eastern Conference Finals, and Chicago dominated the series from start to finish. Jordan averaged 29.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 7.0 assists in the four-game sweep and finally got past Thomas, a Chicago native who had Air Jordan’s number.

Jordan and his teammates never reacted to any of the Pistons’ dirty fouls. In the fourth quarter of Game 4, Dennis Rodman pushed Scottie Pippen to the ground and tried to hurt him on a drive to the hoop. Pippen didn’t retaliate, and Jordan was proud of his partner in crime.

“When Pippen didn’t respond to that abuse, there was nothing they could do to beat us then,” Jordan said in The Last Dance.

After sweeping the Pistons, the Bulls faced Worthy and the Lakers in the 1991 Finals. Jordan averaged 31.2 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 11.4 assists to lead Chicago to a five-game series win. It was the Bulls’ first championship in franchise history and the start of their dynasty. Ironically, Jordan won his first title against Worthy, one of his closest friends in the NBA.