SI writer admits infamous Michael Jordan article was too harsh
Michael Jordan could not have been surprised by the amount of skepticism that surrounded his decision to retire from the NBA in 1993 and pursue a career in professional baseball, but one story that was written about him really seemed to anger the six-time champion. Now 26 years later, the author of that story still regrets the way it was presented.
Steve Wulf wrote a story that became the cover of the March 14, 1994 issue of Sports Illustrated, and the headline was “Bag It, Michael.” The sub-heading was even harsher, as it read “Jordan and the White Sox Are Embarrassing Baseball.” Jordan said during Episode 7 of ESPN’s documentary series “The Last Dance” that he was never approached for an interview before the story ran. He held a grudge against Sports Illustrated after that.
Wulf appeared on the “ESPN Daily” podcast with Mina Kimes this week, and he said he still cringes every time he sees that 1994 headline. He says he wishes SI’s editors had run it by him first, but Wulf admitted Jordan was right to feel insulted by the story.
26 years later, Steve Wulf admits his Sports Illustrated story on Michael Jordan playing baseball was too harsh: pic.twitter.com/0tnmnuKswT
— Ian Casselberry (@iancass) May 13, 2020
“I think he was rightly insulted,” Wulf said. “He wasn’t out to embarrass baseball. He was out to pursue a dream that we thought at the time was delusional, but we should not have come down on him that hard.”
Not only does Wulf think the story was unfair in hindsight, but he also admitted that he went to see Jordan in batting practice a short time after it was published and was “astounded at how much he had progressed.”
Michael Jordan’s stint in baseball was the most unusual chapter of his career. How good could he have been?
— Mina Kimes (@minakimes) May 8, 2020
Jordan was fueled by criticism throughout his Hall of Fame career, so on some level he was probably thrilled about the SI story. His main issue was that Wulf didn’t even give him a chance to comment, which Wulf seems to realize was unfair.
While Jordan’s baseball career was obviously short-lived, one MLB manager believes MJ was improving so rapidly that he could have eventually played in the majors.
H/T Awful Announcing