SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - Michael Jordan spoke to hundreds of media members and guests at basketball’s hall of fame here Friday in a 20-minute question-and-answer session. He said, among other things: “There’s not going to be another Michael Jordan.”
Jordan also laughed as he recounted a conversation with former Chicago Bulls assistant coach Tex Winter after Jordan had scored a bushel of points in a row to win a game for Chicago.
“There’s No ‘I’ in team,” Winter said.
Jordan said he looked Winter in the eye and said: “There’s an ‘I’ in ‘win.’”
Here are other highlights from Jordan’s question-and-answer session with the media. The official induction ceremony – which also honors former players David Robinson and John Stockton and coaches Jerry Sloan and C. Vivian Stringer – is Friday night in Springfield.
- Scott Fowler
Q: So many people wanted to “Be Like Mike” growing up. Who did Mike want to be like?A: Probably my father. I have a strong resemblance to him. If you want to be like Mike, that starts with a haircut and a suntan. I’m just happy to be myself.
Q: What was the favorite moment of your basketball career?
A: That’s like asking which one of your kids is your best kid. I had a lot of great accomplishments, spectacular plays, game-winning shots – it’s hard for me to pick out one.
I could start in 1982 with the shot at UNC and I could end with the shot in 1998 at Utah, or with the Dream Team (in 1992) or playing baseball. Although you guys don’t consider that to be successful, I do. It’d be too difficult for me to pick out one.
Q: What is your message to your fans in Chicago?
A: I still live there. A lot of people don’t think I do, but I still do. (When the Bulls drafted me), they took this kid who had never been to the big city. They believed in me. That marriage lasted until now. The city and the team supported my efforts. I will always have the deepest warmth for the city of Chicago.
Q: You’re going into the hall of fame with player John Stockton and coach Jerry Sloan, both of the Utah Jazz. Stockton was labeled back then as maybe the dirtiest guard in the league. Could you reminisce some about that rivalry?
A: I wouldn’t say Stockton was the dirtiest player in the league, or point guard. I could name a couple of other ones. He was a tough, hard-nosed guy who played with every inch of his body. Utah was a great team, even though it never won a championship. Stockton, Karl Malone, coach Sloan – that was a great team that easily could have beaten us a couple of times in the NBA Finals. They were great adversaries.
Q: What would your father James (who was murdered in 1993 in North Carolina) say about this day if he were here?
A: He’d probably love to be standing here, answering all of your questions. He loved to speak for me. I think now he’d understand I’m a grown person. He taught me well. If he was here today, he’d be living it up with all these flashes and cameras, but I think he’d be very proud of what I’ve done over my career. When you see me, you see him. You see my mother. You see my brothers and sisters. I represent my whole family.
Q: You have often been acclaimed the “best” or “greatest” player of all time. What do you think when you hear those accolades?
A: When people say I’m the greatest to ever play the game, I cringe a little bit. It’s an opinion.
For me personally, I never played against Jerry West. I never played against Elgin Baylor. I never played against Wilt Chamberlain. Yeah, I would have loved to. But to say I’m better than those people is not for me to decide. I would never give myself that type of accolade because I never competed against everybody in this hall of fame.
Q: When you came to Chicago (in 1984), the franchise was at one of its lowest points. Talk about some of the struggles you faced there.
A: When I first got to Chicago, the only way we could go was up. Couldn’t go any further down. I came from a prestigious university that was built on winning. At that time winning for us (in Chicago) was getting into the playoffs. And once we got into the playoffs, it was getting past the first round, and getting to the Eastern Conference finals and to the finals.
That growth happened over a period of time. We got better players….
Phil (Jackson) came in. Once we got on top, we didn’t want to relinquish that attitude… Toward the end, I had to be a little more assertive. I was a little more animated, stronger-voiced. I had a conversation with Tex Winter, an unbelievable (assistant) coach, one time after scoring about 20 points in a row to win the game. Tex reminded me, “There’s No I in team.”
I looked back at Tex and I said, “There’s an ‘I’ in ‘W-I-N.’ (Laughter)
Q: For a long time, people didn’t handle the burden of being ‘the next Michael Jordan’ very well. There are two guys now who seem to be carrying that mantle. What have you seen from Kobe and LeBron?
A: I see some resemblance. How can you not see that in Kobe Bryant and LeBron James? They’re going to be fine. But don’t be in a rush to find the next Michael Jordan. There’s not going to be another Michael Jordan. (Applause) Times are different. The game is different.
We – you guys – are constantly trying to find that next Michael Jordan. First of all, you didn’t find me. I just happened to come along and next thing you know, here I am. You won’t have to find me and you won’t have to find that next person, if you haven’t (found him) already. And I think those guys have the strong potential to be better than Michael Jordan down the road. They are their own people.
Q: Have you talked to Phil Jackson (Jordan’s head coach for all six of his NBA championships) about this honor?
A: I haven’t talked to Phil. He’s elusive… But he challenged me at times I needed challenging. Mentally, he made me expand my outlook of the game. He put me in difficult positions in dealing with other players, like Dennis Rodman. But I came around. He’s very deserving of being in the hall of fame, also.
Q: You scored 63 in a playoff game against the Boston Celtics in 1986 and afterward Bird said that was “God disguised as Michael Jordan.” Did that game do a lot for your confidence?
A: Yes. When you look at it up to that point, there was so many media guys saying he’s good but he’s not in the same class as Magic Johnson or Larry Bird. I earned Larry Bird’s respect – to me that showed me I was on the right track. Not the points that I scored, because at the end of the day we lost the game. It’s a good highlight to watch, but not too much fun because I lost. That was the biggest compliment I had at that particular time.