One-on-One with Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan sits down for an exclusive interview with Marvin R. Shanken, Editor and Publisher of Cigar Aficionado.
Marvin R. Shanken
From the Print Edition:
Michael Jordan, July/August 2005
(continued from page 4)
MRS: So you're saying the Lakers would be easier to fix?
JORDAN: Sure. They'd be easier to fix.
MRS: How would you fix the Lakers today?
JORDAN: I would have never gotten rid of Shaq [O'Neal]. It's as simple as that. You've got three championships with a big man, and big men are hard to find. Not only that, you have the most dominant big man in the game today. You don't just send him away because you got some problems.
MRS: Does Kobe read about what's going on in Miami?
JORDAN: I'm pretty sure he does. But you can't blame one guy. It's a combination of both of them. If you've got success in your house, you find a way to manage so that everybody prospers and everybody is viewed as champions. Personalities got involved after they'd had some success. It becomes about individuals—individual goals that they wanted to achieve. Be it Kobe leading the league in scoring and carrying the team by himself, or Shaq proving he can win without Kobe. What's the purpose of changing if you've got the right mixture that's working? Give me a seven-footer and I'd probably still be playing right now.
MRS: The media have made a big thing about drugs this year. Is this something new or something that was around in the '80s and the '90s? Is it worse today? Is it the same? Is it a serious problem?
JORDAN: Drugs have been in the game for a long time. They were there when I was in college, and even in high school. It's in life. It's in business. It's everywhere. It starts with the kids of tomorrow, and how those kids are brought up and what their values are. And how the parents teach those kids those values. If you don't take the time to teach those values, they will make the same mistakes. Is it still prevalent in sports? Yes.
MRS: Is it worse today than it was 20, 30 years ago?
JORDAN: I wouldn't say that. I wouldn't say it's worse. There is some drug awareness out there. I must admit, it's still prevalent. But it's not worse. They've tried in the NBA to implement some provisions to monitor drug use, to eliminate it and totally get rid of it. To some degree, it is working.
MRS: It seems like for the first time in football, baseball and basketball, both on the union's side and in management, they are understanding what drugs are and that they have to do everything in their power to stop their use. Was that the case in the past?
JORDAN: No. Drug use was hidden in a lot of sports a long time ago. Now it's out in the open, be it steroids in baseball or steroids in football. Steroids have never been prevalent in professional basketball. But you got a lot of marijuana smoking and drug use like cocaine. All that stuff has been in the NBA. We've been able to curtail it and try to eliminate it, but it's very tough to eliminate. I think marijuana is still strong in the NBA. I'd like to see that paid more attention to. I think [NBA Commissioner] David Stern has done a great job to eliminate all those issues, but no one is going to be able to eliminate it completely.
MRS: Do you miss the excitement of basketball?
JORDAN: Yes. I have to stay away from it because of it. I wouldn't say it's an addiction, but it's a passion. When you have a passion, you want to do it as much as possible. Addiction means you can't help yourself. I have a strong passion for the game of basketball.
MRS: Michael, I'm now giving you the opportunity to create the Dream Team of Michael Jordan, of all players of basketball. You're on the team, and you can name four other guys at different positions. That doesn't mean there aren't 20 other great guys for those positions, but you can explain your picks.
JORDAN: That's a very good question. It's going to be somewhat biased because I didn't play back in the days of Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, some of the great stars prior to me. And it's very tough because I'm friends with a lot of players today.
But if I had to pick a center, I would take Olajuwon. That leaves out Shaq, Patrick Ewing. It leaves out Wilt Chamberlain. It leaves out a lot of people. And the reason I would take Olajuwon is very simple: he is so versatile because of what he can give you from that position. It's not just his scoring, not just his rebounding or not just his blocked shots. People don't realize he was in the top seven in steals. He always made great decisions on the court. For all facets of the game, I have to give it to him.
Power forward: There's James Worthy, whom I love, and he is a North Carolina guy. Karl Malone, Charles Barkley, whom I adore and is a good friend, and Charles Oakley. But in terms again of versatility, it has to be Larry Bird. The things he could provide to you all around: his demeanor, his work ethic and his versatility once again.
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Ron Comrie — Lakewood Ranch, Florida, United States, — December 26, 2012 1:49pm ET
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