NBA

Michael Jordan’s Secret Thanksgiving Trip to the Movies Goes Awry

Michael Jordan has been one of the most recognizable people on the planet for almost 40 years. The first couple of episodes of The Last Dance documentary showed glimpses of what it’s like to be Michael Jordan. Whether it’s Paris, France or Paris, Texas, Jordan’s fame follows him wherever he goes.

All that fame and the unrelenting crowds that accompany it prevent Jordan from rarely do anything in public. In 1995, Jordan and several other members of the Chicago Bulls organization attempted a secret trip to the theater to watch the newly released movie Casino. It didn’t exactly go as planned.

Michael Jordan and team celebrate Thanksgiving Day at movies

Thanksgiving Day 1995. After the morning shoot-around prepping for the Utah Jazz game the next day, the Chicago Bulls players were hanging out in their Salt Lake City hotel eating turkey and taking in the day’s football action. At one point, someone suggested they try to get out and see a movie. When someone mentioned the newly released movie Casino was playing, Michael Jordan was intrigued.

For the Bulls players to go, it wouldn’t be a big deal. They could go to most places in public without being bothered. For Michael Jordan, it was a different story altogether. Everything needed to be carefully coordinated. 

After several conversations with hotel staff and assurances everything would be fine because it was Thanksgiving Day and no crowds would be around, Jordan and his security guy agreed to join and see the movie. Everyone agreed to meet downstairs in an hour for the short walk to the movie theater a few blocks away. 

Jordan and Bulls enjoy the movie

About an hour later, the group of Bulls players, including Jordan and several members of the broadcast crew, arrived at the theater without incident. 

Once inside, there was relief as they confirmed what they had been told back at the hotel. There were only two people in the whole theater — the ticket taker and one person working concessions. After everyone bought their food and drinks, they headed into the theater.

For the next couple of hours, with no one else in the theater besides members of the Chicago Bulls organization, it was pure unadulterated bliss. During one scene, several players yelled at the screen—”Don’t give her the money!” Those types of interactions happened throughout the movie. They were all having a good time and enjoying themselves like kids, especially Jordan, since it was a rare occasion. 

After a couple of hours of fun, the movie ended. And that’s when things got interesting. 

A big surprise awaits Michael Jordan and Bulls

Michael Jordan Fans
Michael Jordan Fans | Photo credit should read BRIAN BAHR/AFP via Getty Images

Michael Jordan, despite what he had been told earlier, was concerned about what might be awaiting outside. He asked television announcer Tom Dore to go outside and check to make sure everything was clear. 

“Alright TD, your job is to go out and see how many thousands of people are out there,” Jordan half-joked. 

“Mike, it’s Thanksgiving Day. They will hate you tomorrow during the game. They don’t want your autograph. They don’t like you here,” Dore told him.

After Jordan insisted he go check, Dore walked outside of the theater and was stunned by what he saw. Several thousand people had gathered. Apparently, while the Bulls were inside enjoying the movie, the ticket taker and concessions worker were calling all their friends telling them who was there. Dore had the unenviable task of delivering the bad news to Jordan.

“I’m right. You can tell me, I’m right. I know you’re wrong,” Jordan told Dore when he walked back in the theater. 

“Well, there is that chance,” Dore said smiling. Everyone started laughing. Then, it was time to come up with a plan of escape.

Jordan hatches escape plan

Former Chicago Bulls stars Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan
Former Chicago Bulls stars Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan | Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

“Alright, you guys have seen how they take Muhammad Ali from the dressing room to the ring,” Jordan told them. Everyone understood. Moments later, all the Chicago Bulls personnel, stood just inside the theater door gathered around Jordan who was in the middle.

They opened the door and Johnny “Red” Kerr, the other Bulls television announcer, led the way out. The group made it just a few steps into the crowd, before a teenage kid stood directly in front of Kerr. He wouldn’t budge. Kerr refused to push the kid aside, but stood his ground.

Realizing that the situation wasn’t going to get any better, Dore, who is a 7-foot-2-inch former center, turned to Jordan. “Just make a run for it,” he told him. Seconds later, the Bulls staff made an opening for Jordan, and he bolted through the crowd headed toward the hotel.

A few minutes later when everyone arrived back at the hotel, Jordan found Dore. 

“I told you it was going to be like that. I told you,” Jordan repeated. 

“I know. You were right. Hey, did you have fun at the movie?” Dore asked him. 

“I did. I had a blast. It was one of the most enjoyable things I’ve done in a long time,” Jordan told him. 

Jordan went out and scored 34 points the next day as the Bulls defeated the Jazz 90-85.