Michael Jordan won his first title with the Chicago Bulls during the 1990-91 season. It was an all-around banner year for Jordan, who not only won his first championship and first Finals MVP but also took home his second regular-season MVP Award.
From the outside looking in, it appeared the Bulls were on a joyous ride in 1990-91, and nothing negative happened. However, that wasn’t the case at all.
Legendary writer Sam Smith wrote The Jordan Rules: The Inside Story of One Turbulent Season with Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. It gave fans an inside look at the Bulls’ 1990-91 season and changed how the world viewed Jordan.
As expected, Jordan wasn’t a fan of the book, which took a huge toll on him. Surprisingly, though, the Bulls superstar never confronted Smith about the book despite seeing him every day.
What was ‘The Jordan Rules’ about?
Smith’s book chronicled the Bulls’ 1990-91 season and everything that went on behind the scenes. It covered everything from Jordan’s rocky relationships with his coaches, teammates, and management to his obsession with becoming the leading scorer and his refusal to pass the ball in the crucial minutes of big games to certain players.
The book revealed that Jordan punched Bulls big man Will Perdue during practice and wanted general manager Jerry Krause fired. The public started to view MJ differently, and he was no longer universally loved worldwide. Players giving out sensitive information to the media is never a good thing. Jordan thought Horace Grant was responsible for providing Smith with information, but Grant vehemently denied it in the Last Dance docuseries.
Despite the turmoil behind the scenes, the Bulls won 61 games in 1990-91. Jordan averaged 31.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 5.5 assists and beat Magic Johnson to win his second MVP. Chicago finally got past the Detroit Pistons in the Eastern Conference Finals and advanced to their first NBA Finals, where they faced the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Bulls lost Game 1 of the Finals to the Lakers at home. However, Jordan and Co. rattled off four wins in a row after that loss to capture their first NBA title. His Airness won Finals MVP and finally had a ring like Johnson and Larry Bird.
Since he was such a tough guy, many people assumed that Jordan had a conversation with Smith about the book and called him out. However, that shockingly never happened.
Michael Jordan and Sam Smith never talked about the book
Jordan and Smith never talked about the book despite seeing each other every day in the ’90s. Smith was a beat reporter for the Bulls during the Jordan era and had a good relationship with the NBA icon before the book came out. He actually wasn’t sure if he would be interviewed for the Last Dance documentary because of the controversial book.
“The Jordan Rules was bothersome to him at the time and controversial,” Smith told Isaac Chotiner of the New Yorker. “I used to have a good relationship with him before the book came out. I wasn’t a close friend, but we would joke when I was around the team. We traveled commercial together and all that sort of stuff. Jordan has never said a word to me about The Jordan Rules. Never once in thirty years. At the end of the [documentary] interview, I said, ‘Hey, tell me something. Did you have to ask Michael permission to talk to me?’ And the guy kind of stammered a little bit. And he said, ‘Well, we actually did ask him if it was O.K.’ And I said, ‘Well, what’d he say?’ He said, ‘I don’t give a [expletive] who you talk to.’ The way I understood it is, he didn’t say whether they could or could not. They weren’t sure whether they should.”
Jordan took everything personally during his playing days, so it’s a little surprising to hear that he never got face to face with Smith about the book.
Will Perdue talks about getting punched by MJ
Perdue confirmed in May 2020 that Jordan did punch him in 1990-91. He also said there were many fights at Bulls practices.
“He did, and I wasn’t the only one,” Perdue told CBS Sports. “That’s how competitive our practices were. That wasn’t the only fight. That was one of numerous. But because it involved Michael Jordan, and it leaked out, it became a big deal. And the funny thing was, in that practice that it happened, we basically separated, regrouped, and kept practicing. Stuff like that was common because that’s how competitive our practices were.”
Perdue was Jordan’s teammate from 1988-1995. He won three championships with MJ and was featured in the Last Dance docuseries.
Along with Perdue, Jordan punched Steve Kerr in 1995-96. He clearly had no problem getting physical with his teammates.