Asked if he enjoyed watching “The Last Dance,” Grant said he would describe it as “entertaining,” and added that he and other Chicago players during the Jordan era knew that “about 90 percent” of the highly popular series was “B.S. in terms of the realness of it.”
That assessment was largely based on Grant’s claim that for as much as Jordan would bark at teammates who he felt weren’t playing or practicing to his standards, many of those Bulls players “went back at him.”
“But all of that was kind of edited out of the documentary, if you want to call it a documentary,” said Grant, who was drafted by the Bulls in 1987 and stayed with the team through its first three championships and a 1993-94 season during which Jordan was playing baseball while retired from the NBA. Grant joined the Orlando Magic as a free agent in 1994, and also played for the Los Angeles Lakers — winning a fourth title in 2001 — and the Seattle SuperSonics in a 17-year career.
The publication of “The Jordan Rules,” which tarnished a mostly squeaky-clean image for the NBA’s most marketable player, as well as increased scrutiny of his gambling habits were depicted in “The Last Dance” as having significant roles in Jordan’s stunning 1993 decision to retire.
“I didn’t contribute to that. That was Horace,” Jordan said in the docuseries, referring to the best-selling book written by former Chicago Tribune reporter Sam Smith. “He was telling everything that was happening within the group."
Grant was shown in “The Last Dance” denying Jordan’s accusation, but on Tuesday he had a platform on which to offer a much sharper defense.
“Lie, lie, lie,” Grant said on the radio station. “If MJ had a grudge with me, let’s settle this like men. Let’s talk about it. Or we can settle it another way.
“But yet and still, he goes out and puts this lie out that I was the source behind [the book]. 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.”
Grant went on to note that if there was one thing the ESPN series “proved,” it was that Jordan had a tendency to hold “a grudge.” Grant added that if anyone said something at all negative about Jordan, the five-time NBA MVP would “cut you off” and “try to destroy your character.”
Grant brought up a scene from the first episode of “The Last Dance,” when Jordan recalled walking into a hotel room as a rookie and seeing Chicago teammates engaging in substance abuse.
“Practically the whole team was in there,” Jordan said, explaining why he was “more or less on my own” in his early Bulls days. “It was things I’ve never seen in my life as a young kid. You’ve got your lines over here, your weed smokers over here, your women over here."
Grant said Tuesday, “My point is that [Jordan] said that I was the snitch, but yet and still after 35 years he brings up his rookie year going into one of his teammate’s rooms and seeing coke, and weed and women. My point is: Why the hell did he want to bring that up? What’s that got to do with anything? I mean, if you want to call somebody a snitch, that’s a damn snitch right there.”
Of the treatment he received from Jordan while they were on the Bulls, Grant declared, “He felt that he could dominate me, but that was sadly mistaken.” He added that it was “heartbreaking” to watch footage in the series of Jordan picking on other teammates, in particular Scott Burrell.
Asked on ESPN Radio about an anecdote Smith, the “Jordan Rules” author, recently told of hearing that Jordan once ordered a flight attendant not to serve Grant a meal “because Horace had a bad game,” Grant agreed it happened but said the full story also illustrated how he stood up to the superstar’s bullying ways.
“Anybody who knows me, as a rookie, if anybody comes up and tries to snatch my food away, I’m going to do my best to beat their a--,” Grant said. “And believe me, back then, I could have took MJ in a heartbeat.
“Yes, it’s true that he told the flight attendant, ‘Don’t give him anything because he played like crap.’ And I went right back at him. I said some choice words that I won’t repeat on here. But I said some choice words and stood up: ‘If you want it, you come and get it.’ And of course, [Jordan] didn’t move. He was just barking.
“But anybody who knows me, where I come from and what I stand for,” Grant continued, “come on, man — there’s nobody on this Earth would ever come and try to take food off my plate and not get their rear ends beaten.”
Jordan’s defense of his tough-love approach made for arguably the most emotional moment of “The Last Dance,” when he got teary-eyed while saying, “You can ask all my teammates: ‘One thing about Michael Jordan, he didn’t ask me to do one thing that he didn’t f------ do.’ When people see this, [they will think]: ‘Well, he wasn’t really a nice guy. He may have been a tyrant.’ No. That’s you. You never won anything.
“I wanted to win, but I wanted [my teammates] to win and be a part of that as well. … I’m only doing it because it is who I am. That’s how I played the game. That was my mentality. If you don’t want to play that way, don’t play that way.”
Two other former Chicago teammates have echoed Grant in claiming that Jordan wasn’t as much of an taskmaster as the series suggested.
“MJ knew who he can talk to and knew who he had to push. He was one of those guys who made you work harder because you see how he works,” Ron Harper said recently (via NBC Sports Chicago). “You ain’t gonna talk crazy to me and don’t think I’m going to talk crazy to you. He would talk to Scott Burrell and Scott wasn’t man enough to stand up for who he was. You ain’t doing that s--- with me.”
“Let’s be kind, I think that the documentary meant to be something positive,” Bill Cartwright added. “That’s what I want to be. We saw really three guys — Will Perdue, Steve Kerr, Scott Burrell. Really, that’s the only people I’ve seen. So we’ll just leave it with that. I didn’t see all that ‘holding people accountable.’ I saw us, our guys. And these guys here, I promise you these guys are extraordinarily competitive.
“They’re not going to put up with anything. You can tell any story you want. I didn’t see it.”
Grant said his most recent communication with Jordan occurred approximately three years ago, when they had a text exchange about golf.
“The crazy thing, for one of my charities, he sent me an autographed pair of shoes,” Grant said. “I don’t understand it — if he had some difference with me, he could have text me, he could have called me, the whole nine yards. But if I see him today, we would hopefully pay our respects to each other because we went through three championships together.
“But if not, believe me, I’m not going to lose any sleep over it.”