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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 3)

Most of my teammates in Chicago had adapted to the fans leaving and just figured, The game must be over. I'm saying, No, it's not over until there are triple zeros on the scoreboard. I got a burst of energy and started to lead the charge. I got the opportunity to prove it's never really over. We came from 16 points down to win the game. That's when the city of Chicago started to say, OK, something's starting to happen, something is changing. There's no give-up in this kid, no matter what. He's going to keep fighting and fighting and fighting until we win or lose. That's how my first season went. That was the biggest plus for me when we made the playoffs that year.

MRS: When you were playing for the Bulls, did you, as a player or as a team, ever have any real rivalries, or was it all hype?
JORDAN: No, we had some rivalries. Early on, it was Milwaukee. We couldn't beat Milwaukee. They were just 45 minutes to an hour away. They were a strong team and they constantly kept beating us. Even when we got in the playoffs, they kept beating us. Then we got to a point where we started beating them. Then the rivalry went from Milwaukee to Detroit. And that was brutal. Isiah [Thomas] was from Chicago, and he wanted to come back and show he still dominated Chicago. I was the new guy in Chicago, and people were supporting the team. It became a dogfight between us. There was some real hatred there. On the floor, it was that whole physicality of the game, and that's what was happening on the basketball court. Anybody going into the paint was going to get knocked down. If you got stitches, you got stitches. Those are the types of games we had. But once we overcame them, then we knew we could do anything. There was no one else beating us, or having that kind of rivalry with us.

MRS: Your biggest rival was Detroit. Where did the Knicks fit in?
JORDAN: The Knicks came later.

MRS: Because as New Yorkers, we hated Michael Jordan. You single-handedly took us down more times than I want to remember. Every time in the playoffs when we thought we could reach the top, you nailed us.
JORDAN: Once we started winning and got past Detroit, the Knicks became our biggest rivals. They were trying to get where we were. We were trying to maintain what we were. Every battle was magnified. Patrick [Ewing] was a good friend. Charles Oakley used to be in Chicago. John Starks, Charles Smith, Anthony Mason—all these guys. When Detroit was winning, everybody had adopted the physical type of game. New York became that way, too. You go in the middle, you're going to get hit. Patrick was a fierce intimidator.

MRS: What was this rumor about Jordan coming to New York? We always heard that Michael Jordan was coming to the Knicks. We hated you, but on the other hand, we wanted you.
JORDAN: It was truly a rumor. We had one occasion when there was a dialogue. It must have been in 1996 or 1997 because of my contract situation in Chicago. But nothing ever really materialized.

MRS: But you told me recently that had a phone call come at the right time, you would have been a New York Knick.
JORDAN: If Chicago had not made a significant offer, New York was next. We actually had a dialogue with New York. If a phone call didn't come in 30 minutes from Chicago, we had already given assurances that we would have gone to the Knicks for less money.

Michael Jordan portrait.
MRS: How would you fix today's New York Knicks? [Laughter]
JORDAN: I knew that was coming. I don't want to second-guess Isiah. I'm not taking over for Isiah Thomas as general manager.

MRS: No, I'm not suggesting that. What would you do?
JORDAN: They have a tough team. They have a lot of injuries and a lot of big contracts. First of all, you have to find some commodities that you feel will benefit the New York Knicks, but when you do that, you can't just think one way. You have to find some team that feels that the players on the Knicks will be a better fit for the other team. Until you find the right situations for those players, you have to wait until their existing contracts expire or buy them out of their contracts. For the Knicks, it isn't a financial issue; they are still taking on a lot of contracts.

MRS: But didn't they get rid of a lot of contracts, too?
JORDAN: But they've taken on a lot, too. They are not going to be under the cap any time soon.

MRS: Which will be an easier problem to fix, the Knicks or the Lakers?
JORDAN: The Knicks don't have any cap space to create a different team. When you look at the Lakers, they may have one or maybe two sustaining long contracts. The Knicks have four.

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Comments   1 comment(s)

Ron Comrie — Lakewood Ranch, Florida, United States,  —  December 26, 2012 1:49pm ET

Can you please tell me the name/style of the Movado watch Michael Jordan is wearing on the cover photo? Thanks.

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