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In ESPN’s docuseries, «The Last Dance,» Michael Jordan revealed he turned down partying with members of the Chicago Bulls as a rookie, choosing instead to focus on basketball.
Jordan said the decision «more or less» left him on his own, as he didn’t smoke or drink at the time.
The NBA struggled with drugs, particularly cocaine, in the 1980s, and Jordan laughed in «The Last Dance» at a newspaper column that described the Bulls as a «traveling cocaine circus.»
In the first episode of ESPN’s 10-part docuseries «The Last Dance» on Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, Jordan revealed that as a rookie, he distanced himself from some teammates who partied in their off-time.
During the episode, an interviewer told Jordan that a local newspaper column referred to the Bulls in the early ’80s as the «cocaine traveling circus.» Jordan cracked up upon hearing the description.
However, he later confirmed that one night during the preseason, at a hotel on the road, he knocked on a teammate’s door to find members of the team partying.
«I get to this one door, I knock on the door, and I could hear someone say, ‘Shhh, someone’s outside,'» Jordan said. «This deep voice says, ‘Who is it?’ I say, it’s MJ, and they say, ‘Ah, f—, he’s just a rookie. Don’t worry about it.'»
Jordan said he walked into a party involving «practically» the whole team.
«I walk in, and practically the whole team is in there. It was things I had never seen in my life as a young kid. You got your lines over here. You got your weed smokers over here. You got your women over here.»
Jordan said he told the team he wasn’t going to stick around.
«First thing I said, ‘Look, man, I’m out.’ Because all I could think about is, if they come raid this place right now, I am just as guilty as everyone else in this room,» Jordan said.
«From that point, I was more or less on my own.»
Rick Telander of The Chicago Sun-Times said Jordan lived like a college kid in his rookie year and that his mom visited frequently.
«I enjoyed just hanging out, playing cards, watching movies,» Jordan said. «I wasn’t going to the clubs.»
The NBA struggled with players using drugs in the 1980s, something late commissioner David Stern helped turn around, including a program to help players who came forward with drug addictions.
«Whatever somebody else might have been doing off the court, if it was partying or whatever, that wasn’t part of what [Jordan] wanted to do,» said Rod Higgins, who played on the Bulls from 1981-85. «Orange juice and 7-Up was his go-to.»
Jordan would win Rookie of the Year in 1984-85, averaging 28 points per game.
«I don’t smoke. I don’t do lines. I didn’t drink at the time,» Jordan said. «I was looking just to get some rest, get up, and go play.»
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