Jordan spills on Bulls’ ‘cocaine circus’

Michael Jordan made an instant impact after being drafted by the Chicago Bulls with the third pick in the 1984 NBA Draft.

There was scepticism surrounding just how good he would be, with the league back then under the mindset you couldn’t win a championship with a guy who was “only” 198cm tall leading the charge.

Jordan quickly proved the doubters wrong and was unlike anything the NBA had seen before, unleashing a dazzling array of moves on the court.

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Tales about the game’s biggest killer calling out his teammates on the practice court were common, but he distanced himself from his comrades when it came to their lifestyle away from the floor.

The Bulls had been labelled a “travelling cocaine circus” by The Jordan Rules author Sam Smith and Jordan recalled his first experience of the team’s extracurricular activities during a preseason trip.

“Look, guys were doing things I didn’t see (before),” Jordan said in The Last Dance.

“I had one event, pre-season … I think we were in Peoria. It’s in a hotel, so I’m trying to find my teammates.

“So I start knocking on doors and I get to this one door and I knock on the door and I could hear someone say, ‘Shh, shh, shh, someone’s outside’.

Jordan wasn’t ready for what he was about to see.Source:Getty Images

“And then you hear this deep voice say, ‘Who is it?’ I say, ‘MJ’, and then they all say, ‘Ah f***, he’s just a rookie, don’t worry about it’.

“So they open up the door, I walk in and practically the whole team was in there. And it was like things I’ve never seen in my life as a young kid.

“You got your lines (of drugs) over here, you got your weed smokers over here and you got your women over here.

“So the first thing I said was, ‘Look, man, I’m out’. Because all I can think about is if they come and raid this place right about now, I am just as guilty as everybody else in this room. And from that point on, I was more or less on my own.”

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The Bulls Traveling Cocaine Circus had MJ in stitches

Every member of the 1984-85 Bulls watching in their living room is right now explaining to their family that they weren't in the cocaine circus.

Jordan trained and played in his rookie season but as soon as he stepped off the floor he preffered to spend time alone in his room rather than get up to any mischief with his teammates.

“I enjoyed, you know, just hanging out, playing cards, watching movies, you know, I wouldn’t go into the clubs,” Jordan says in The Last Dance.

“I don’t smoke, I don’t do lines. I didn’t drink at the time. I was looking just to get some rest, get up and go play.”


Jordan led the Bulls in points, assists, rebounds and steals in his first season and won the Rookie of the Year award. In his second season he was looking to lead the Bulls back to the playoffs.

But disaster struck in the third game of the season when Jordan broke his left foot, which resulted in him missing 64 games.

Jordan, the competitive beast that he was, wasn’t going to undertake his recovery like most normal humans and he hatched a devious plan that would allow him to get back in action sooner than expected.

Jordan gave the Bulls a heart attack.Source:Getty Images

“I’m doing nothing, watching games, sitting on the bench. I was itching to do something, so I talked the Bulls into letting me go back to college,” Jordan says on The Last Dance.

“I just started going to the gym, shooting. Then I started playing one-on-one and then I started playing two-on-two, then I started playing three-on-three.

“Next, I was playing five-on-five and the Bulls never knew I was doing it.

“When I got back with the Bulls, my calf muscles in my injured calf were stronger than my uninjured calf. So the first thing they said was, ‘What in the hell you been doing … blah blah blah’.”

Jordan was ready to go but the Bulls were reluctant to let him loose with the doctor saying he had a 10 per cent chance of re-aggravating his injury, which would have risked his entire career.

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“I just lost it. I said, ‘Look, it’s a 10 per cent chance, but it’s 90 per cent chance that I won’t (re-injure himself)’,” Jordan recalls.

Owner Jerry Reinsdorf wasn’t willing to take the risk with his superstar youngster and put a proposal to Jordan that he quickly shot down.

“I said to Michael, ‘You’re not understanding the risk-reward ratio. If you had a terrible headache and I gave you a bottle of pills, and nine of the pills would cure you and one of the pills would kill you, would you take a pill?’” Reinsdorf said.

Jordan’s excuse is the exact answer you would expect from a man as driven as him.

“I look at him and I said, ‘Depends on how f***ing bad the headache is’,” Jordan says.

The Bulls and Jordan settled on allowing the star to return to the court, but on a strict 14-minute time restriction. Something Jordan also didn’t take kindly to. But after dragging his side into the playoffs, the restriction was lifted and Jordan exploded against the Boston Celtics by dropping a still-standing playoff record 63 points in Game 2.

The first two episodes of The Last Dance will air on Netflix Australia on April 20 with two episodes to be released every following week.

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