Michael Jordan told “a complete and blatant lie” in The Last Dance documentary by claiming that his iconic Chicago Bulls team would have returned to chase a seventh NBA championship, veteran reporter Sam Smith says.
Jordan called it “maddening” that the Bulls dynasty abruptly ended after sealing a second three-peat in 1998, suggesting that he, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman and coach Phil Jackson would all have signed one-year deals for the 1998-99 season had owner Jerry Reinsdorf tabled offers.
Smith, who wrote The Jordan Rules book, branded that notion pure fiction. Jordan instead retired for the second time after 1998.
“That was a complete and blatant lie by Michael,” Smith told US radio show 95.7 The Game.
“There were several things in the documentary that I saw, I would know, that he made up or he lied about.
“They weren’t major things, but it was like when a TV movie comes on and they say, ‘This is based on a true story.’ That’s what that was. It was based on a true story.”
Smith also took issue with the documentary’s treatment of the famous “Flu Game” – Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals. Jordan said that he got food poisoning from a bad pizza in Utah.
“The pizza thing, the poison, that was complete nonsense,” said Smith, a long-time Chicago Tribune basketball writer covering the Bulls.
“There were a couple of other things like that I won’t go into. They weren’t major, but the thing at the end [about Jordan returning to play in 1998-99] was a complete, blatant lie. I know what happened.”
Smith’s book, which exposed Jordan as an extremely demanding teammate when he was considered world sport’s golden boy, was another controversial issue from the documentary.
Smith denied that Jordan’s former teammate, Horace Grant, was his only source for the book. Jordan blamed Grant for the book, while Grant fired back by saying the documentary was “BS, in terms of the realness of it”.
Jordan’s fellow Bulls superstar, Pippen, is reportedly incensed by how he was portrayed in the documentary. One issue dealt with was his infamous refusal to play in the final 1.8 seconds of a Bulls vs Knicks second round playoffs game in 1994, when he was overlooked for the game-winning shot in favour of Toni Kukoc.
Pippen curiously said on The Last Dance: “It’s one of those incidents where I wish it never happened. But if I had a chance to do it over again, I probably wouldn’t change it.”