After an entertaining five weeks, “The Last Dance” is now over, but the controversy and drama surrounding the series and that Chicago Bulls team isn’t going away any time soon. The most recent incident is a revival of the decades-long beef between Michael Jordan and Horace Grant.
Teammates from 1987 until 1993, Jordan and Grant won three titles together during the Bulls’ first three-peat, but their relationship started to sour before Jordan left to go play baseball. In 1992, Sam Smith wrote one of the seminal basketball books: The Jordan Rules.
The controversial book, which pulled back the curtain on the Bulls’ first title run in 1991, revealed a much different side to Jordan than the public had known until then. It was one of the turning points in Jordan going from a beloved icon to a villain many people rooted against.
Understandably, Jordan was not pleased about the book, and during “The Last Dance,” he blamed Grant for giving Smith most of the information. “I didn’t contribute to that,” Jordan said. “That was Horace. He was telling everything that was happening within the group.”
Grant has always denied he was the source, but on Tuesday, he gave his most forceful rebuttal yet. During an interview with ESPN Radio in Chicago, Grant called Jordan’s claims a “downright lie” and said Jordan was the one who was actually a snitch throughout the film, which Grant termed a “so-called documentary.”
Here’s Grant’s response in full:
That is a downright, outright, completely lie. Lie, lie, lie. And as I stated, if M.J. had a grudge with me, let’s settle it like men. Let’s talk about it, or we can settle it another way. Yet and still, he puts out this lie out that I was the source behind it. Sam and I have always been great friends, we’re still great friends. But the sanctity of that locker room, I would never put anything personal out there. The mere fact that Sam Smith was an investigative reporter, that he had to have two sources — two — to write a book. Why would M.J. just point me out?
It’s only a grudge man, and I think he proved that during the so-called documentary. If you say something about him, he’s gonna cut you off, he’s gonna try to destroy your character. I mean, Charles Barkley, they’ve been friends for over 20, 30 years, and he said something about Michael’s management with the Charlotte Bobcats or Charlotte Hornets, and they haven’t spoken since then.
My point is, he says I was the snitch, but still after 35 years he brings up his rookie year, going into one of his teammates rooms and seeing coke and weed and women. My point is, why did he want to bring that up? What does that got to do with anything? If you want to call somebody a snitch, that’s a damn snitch right there.
These sort of “he said, he said” situations are always difficult. Both guys are entrenched in their positions, which they’ve held for decades, and neither one is going to budge at this point.
Obviously Jordan wasn’t telling scandalous tales about himself, so it must have been someone else, but we’re never going to know the full truth about who revealed what to Smith. Did Grant share some stories? That seems pretty likely, especially considering their friendship, but there’s simply no chance he was the source for everything.
What’s most interesting about this interview with Grant is the way he flips everything around at the end. It’s just a further example of the fact that Jordan’s leadership style didn’t work with everyone. Yes, they won, but he was not an easy person to get along with, and many teammates still haven’t forgotten how he treated them back in the day.