Michael Jordan was relentless to Scott Burrell, Bulls teammates…and it worked.

ESPN’s “The Last Dance” has been fantastic so far, giving everyone an inside look at Michael Jordan and the run the dynasty had in the 90’s. So far through the first six episodes, we have seen some great behind-the-scenes footage, showing a lot about this team.

But during episode seven on Sunday, we saw some practice footage and just how much of a savage Jordan could be. By now you already know how competitive Jordan was both on and off the court and episode seven gave us an inside look at how he treated his teammates.

Specifically Scott Burrell.

The episode showed a string of clips where Jordan heckled Burrell in his lone season with the Bulls in 1997-98. The doc showed Jordan going right at Burrell, challenging him at any moment he could and requesting to guard him in practice.

Jordan talked about this ahead of the documentary when he mentioned that people will think he’s a horrible guy via CBS Sports:

“When you see the footage of [me riding with Scott Burrell], you’re going to think that I’m a horrible guy. But you have to realize that the reason why I was treating him like that is because I needed him to be tough in the playoffs and we’re facing the Indiana’s and Miami’s and New York’s in the Eastern Conference. He needed to be tough and I needed to know that I could count on him. And those are the kind of things where people see me acting the way I acted in practice, they’re not going to understand it.”

“Look, winning has a price,” Jordan said in the documentary. “And leadership has a price. So I pulled people along when they didn’t want to be pulled. I challenged people when they didn’t want to be challenged. And I earned that right because my teammates who came after me didn’t endure all the things that I endured. Once you joined the team, you lived at a certain standard that I played the game. And I wasn’t going to take any less. Now, if that means I had to go in there and get in your ass a little bit, then I did that. You ask all my teammates. The one thing about Michael Jordan was he never asked me to do something that he didn’t fucking do.




But Jordan had his reasons.

He knew Burrell had talent and he wanted to get the most out of the talented small forward. It worked too. Burrell scored 23 points in a series-clinching Game 3 win over the New Jersey Nets in the first round of the 1998 NBA Playoffs.

Jordan pushed not only Burrell, but his teammates and no matter how much they hated it, the tactic benefited the team in times they needed it the most. It prepared them for the NBA Playoffs in the midst of their second three-peat.

Episodes 9 & 10 of “The Last Dance” will air next Sunday as the series finale.

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