When Michael Jordan got drafted by the Chicago Bulls with the third overall pick in the 1984 NBA Draft, he was joining a losing and dysfunctional franchise. Not only did the players on the Bulls have a losing mentality, but they also partied a lot and didn’t take winning seriously.
When Jordan first came to Chicago, the Bulls were such a mess that players drank beers and smoked cigarettes at halftime. Since he came from a storied college program (University of North Carolina), MJ couldn’t believe it.
Michael Jordan saw Bulls teammates drink and smoke at halftime
In Episode 6 of ESPN’s The Last Dance docuseries, Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Ron Harper are shown drinking beers in the postgame locker room after beating the Orlando Magic on April 11, 1998. The Bulls improved to 60-18 on the season, and Jordan said, “After a hard day, I would take Gatorade, but I don’t think so.”
Pippen then turned to the camera and said he didn’t want the crew to film him drinking beer. Jordan laughed and told Pippen and Harper stories of his younger days with the Bulls.
“If they go back 10 years ago, you’d see half the brothers drinking a case at halftime,” Jordan said. “When I first joined the team, they was drinking beers at half and smoking cigarettes. And you know what? They was getting the cigarettes from the coaches.”
The Chicago Bulls missed the playoffs three straight years before drafting Jordan out of UNC. The shooting guard, who was 21 and 22 during his rookie season, knew his teammates wouldn’t be good influences on him after a preseason event in Peoria.
Michael Jordan walked into hotel room and saw bad things
Jordan’s parents raised him the right way, which is why His Airness never did anything illegal. The six-time champion, who won the 1984-85 Rookie of the Year Award after a spectacular debut season, found out early on that he would have to stay away from his teammates to achieve greatness.
“I had one event, preseason. I think we were in Peoria. It was in a hotel. So I’m trying to find my teammates. So I start knocking on doors,” Jordan said in Episode 1 of The Last Dance. “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.”
As he got older, Jordan drank beer and smoked cigars. However, he never did any drugs and didn’t allow his love for cigars and alcohol to get in the way of winning.
MJ had a 706-366 record in his career
In 1,072 games with the Bulls and Washington Wizards, Jordan averaged 30.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 5.3 assists. He won five MVPs, six championships, six Finals MVPs, and 10 scoring titles with the Bulls and went undefeated in the Finals.
Jordan is one of three players (Hakeem Olajuwon, Giannis Antetokounmpo) to win MVP and DPOY in the same season. The Hall of Famer is not only the NBA’s all-time leader in points per game, but he’s also first in player efficiency rating.
Jordan, Pippen, and Harper may have drank beer after beating the Magic in April 1998, but at least they didn’t consume alcohol or smoke cigarettes at halftime like Jordan’s teammates did during his early years in Chicago.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference