Michael Jordan was such a huge brand for the NBA that we still talk about him, now an owner of the Charlotte Hornets, nearly 15 years after he last took off an NBA basketball jersey. As the years go by, his legend grows among new and young fans of the game. But there are still whispers about some of the things that happened during his career.
What about the gambling debts? The first retirement that seemingly came out of nowhere, walking away from the game in his prime? The way the Bulls’ franchise suffered after he left the team for good? Here are the four biggest conspiracy theories involving Michael Jordan’s playing career.
4. Jordan kept free agents away from the Bulls
It’s no secret that Jordan hated Bulls general manager Jerry Krause. He battled with Krause verbally, both in private and around the team, and berated Krause for his poor social skills and weight problem. Krause resented Jordan, a player he inherited when he became the GM, because of his belief that it was with the players he put around Jordan that the team won championships, not that Jordan had somehow done it in spite of those around him.
So Krause was thrilled with the opportunity to blow up the team and build a new champion when Jordan walked away following the team winning their sixth championship in 1998. After two years collecting assets via trade and by drafting high, Krause had built up cap space to go after the final pieces: star free agents. But according to Sam Smith of ESPN, Jordan would have his hand in keeping players away from the Bulls even after he was long gone.
The Bulls had long felt their problems were worsened by Jordan, who’d openly condemned Krause for years. The Bulls believed Jordan drove away prospective free agents. They wanted to open the door to a return to former Bulls, but it was impossible with Krause.
With Tim Duncan, Grant Hill, Tracy McGrady, and Eddie Jones available in the summer of 2000, it looked promising for a team with several good, young players to land at least one of them. But Duncan went back to San Antonio, and Hill and McGrady both signed with the Orlando Magic. Jones committed to sign with Chicago, only to suddenly default on the deal and sign with the Miami Heat.