Michael Jordan has won six NBA championships, six Finals MVPs, and five MVP awards. He’s widely regarded as the best basketball player of all-time and he’s still one of the most well-known athletes globally, of all-time. In addition to sheer talent, most people already recognize that much of Jordan’s accomplishments are a credit to his stellar work ethic, competitive drive, and desire to win. Apparently Michael doesn’t think that’s the case; all you had to do was see his Hall of Fame speech to know the guy still had a lot of bitterness to get off his chest. He told Michael Wilbon in an interview during the week that he wasn’t looking forward to the Hall of Fame induction because it’s too early in his life for that — he wasn’t ready to let go of the glory. That was all evident as MJ turned his speech into a roast, taking down everyone and anyone on his hit list of perceived slights that he used to motivate himself during his career.
During his speech, MJ ripped on high school teammate Leroy Smith saying that Leroy’s game is probably the same (Smith got picked for the varsity over Jordan in 10th grade). Added to that list were Buzz Peterson, his roommate at UNC, his brothers, Dean Smith for not picking him as a starter for SI magazine, Jerry Reinsdorf for holding him back when he was recovering from a foot injury, Doug Collins for not wanting him to practice in the summer, and several others. Jordan ripped on Bulls GM Jerry Krause (no surprise given their past) saying “Jerry’s not here, I don’t know who’d invite him. I didn’t.” The multi-millionaire even ripped the Hall of Fame for raising the ticket price to attend the speech, costing him more money to bring his family to the event. Jordan ripped Pat Riley for not letting him fraternize with Charles Oakley or Patrick Ewing, and he also got in a shot on Jeff Van Gundy, calling him “the little guy on the staff.” Rather than being gracious for his induction to the Hall of Fame, Jordan had to touch on anything and everything he ever used to motivate himself and he was a jerk along the way.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! put it best (video of the entire speech is below):
Once again, he turned the evening into something bordering between vicious and vapid, an empty exercise for a night that should’ve had staying power, that should’ve been transformative for basketball and its greatest player. What fueled his fury as a thirtysomething now fuels his bitterness as a lost, wandering fortysomething who threatened a comeback at 50.
He may be the greatest player of all-time but instead he’s now coming off as a bitter old man.
Here’s the video in case you haven’t seen it: