One fun aspect of The Last Dance, ESPN’s 10-part docuseries on Michael Jordan and the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls, is that it has given media folks from that era the opportunity to tell a bunch of delightful stories. One of the people most well-equipped to do this has been Ahmad Rashad, who served as the longtime host of NBC’s NBA Inside Stuff.
Unlike most broadcasters or reporters from that era, who had professional relationships with Jordan, the former Pro Bowl wide receiver struck up a legitimate friendship with the Bulls’ star, something that comes through a whole lot in interviews given by Rashad. Not everything can make it into the documentary, though, so on Tuesday, Rashad took to Twitter to discuss something he saw first-hand during his time around Jordan and the Dream Team.
As Rashad told it, he was in a hotel room with Jordan, Charles Barkley, Larry Bird, Patrick Ewing, and Magic Johnson. The group discussed who had the best team — Bird, as Rashad tells it, told Barkley and Ewing they can’t lay claim to this due to their lack of championships — before moving onto a conversation about which of Bird, Johnson, and Jordan was the best player, with two members of that group getting especially into it with one another.
— Ahmad Rashad (@NBATVAhmad) May 5, 2020
“Michael and Magic got into it,” Rashad recalls. “They were talking back and forth with each other, and it was really funny. I was sitting over there with Larry Bird and we were just watching. Then finally, Michael gets very upset and says, ‘Listen, all I’m telling you — I’m telling you, Larry, and I’m telling you, Magic — if you don’t quit, every time I see you next year, I am busting your ass. When I come to your arena, I’m busting your ass. I’m warning you right now, you better quit.'”
Rashad says that eventually, Bird told Johnson that they “were then,” while Jordan “is now.” It is a marvelous story, one that touches on something that episode five of The Last Dance covered: The Dream Team, in a way, served as Bird and Johnson passing the baton to Jordan as he became the face of the league. Jordan didn’t get a chance to specifically go head-to-head with Bird and Johnson the following season — Bird announced his retirement shortly after the Olympics, while Johnson had already retired — but Chicago did go on to win a championship, so things worked out quite well for him.