Former Chicago Bulls forward Horace Grant has fired back at claims Michael Jordan made about him during “The Last Dance” documentary series on ESPN.
In a radio interview with Kap and Co. on ESPN 1000 in Chicago on Tuesday, Grant said it “is a downright, outright, completely lie” that he leaked much of the information in Sam Smith’s famous “The Jordan Rules” book, as Jordan alleged during the documentary.
“Lie, lie, lie. … If MJ had a grudge with me, let’s settle this like men,” Grant said during the interview. “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. The mere fact that Sam Smith was an investigative reporter. That he had to have two sources, two, to write a book, I guess. Why would MJ just point me out?
“It’s only a grudge, man. I’m telling you, it was only a grudge. And I think he proved that during this so-called documentary. When if you say something about him, he’s going to cut you off, he’s going to try to destroy your character.”
Grant, who helped Jordan and the Bulls win three NBA championships from 1991 to ’93, noted that some of Jordan’s closest relationships have deteriorated over the years because of critical comments made about him.
“Charles Barkley, they’ve been friends for over 20, 30 years,” Grant said. “And he said something about Michael’s management with the Charlotte Bobcats or the Charlotte Hornets, and then they haven’t spoken since then. And my point is, he said that I was the snitch, but yet and still after 35 years he brings up his rookie year going into one of his teammates’ 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.”
Like other former teammates, Grant was unhappy with the portrayal of various players and situations throughout the documentary.
“I would say [it was] entertaining, but we know, who was there as teammates, that about 90% of it — I don’t know if I can say it on air, but B.S. in terms of the realness of it,” Grant said. “It wasn’t real — because a lot of things [Jordan] said to some of his teammates, that his teammates went back at him. But all of that was kind of edited out of the documentary, if you want to call it a documentary.”
One of the storylines throughout the documentary centered on Jordan’s bullying of his teammates. Grant said Jordan’s behavior sometimes crossed the line.
“He felt that he could dominate me, but that was sadly mistaken,” Grant said. “Because whenever he went at me, I went at him right back. But in terms of Will Perdue, Steve Kerr and the young man, Scott Burrell, that was heartbreaking [to watch]. To see a guy, a leader, to go at those guys like that. I understand in terms of practicing, you have a push and shove here and there, but outright punching and things of that nature. And calling them the B’s and the H’s, that wasn’t called for.”
In a separate interview earlier this month on KNBR in San Francisco, Smith relayed a story about Jordan telling flight attendants not to serve Grant food on the plane after a bad game. Grant said Tuesday that the story is true, but also said he always went right back at Jordan after the criticism.
“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 ass,” 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, ‘Well, 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 here. But I said some choice words and stood up. ‘If you want it, you come and get it.’ And of course, he didn’t move. He was just barking. But that was the story. But anybody [who] knows me, where I come from and what I stand for, come on, man. There’s nobody in this earth would ever come and try to take food off my plate and not get their rear ends beaten.”
Grant said that the last time he spoke with Jordan was about three years ago in a series of text messages about golf. Grant said he thinks they would be respectful toward each other if they saw each other, but he isn’t concerned about whether the relationship has run its course.
“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.”
Grant also defended former teammate Scottie Pippen, who has not spoken publicly since the documentary began to air last month. As ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan wrote earlier this month, Pippen has been stung by his portrayal in the documentary.
“I have never seen a quote unquote number two guy, as decorated as Scottie Pippen, portrayed so badly,” Grant said when asked whether he thinks Pippen was portrayed fairly in the documentary. “In terms of the migraine, in terms of the 1. seconds, [Jordan calling him] selfish. I have never seen this in all of my life. And the respect of, Pip was out there in Game 6 [of the ’98 Finals], could barely walk, getting knocked down on his back. Tried to do whatever he could to help that team. My point is, why was that 1. seconds in the documentary, so-called documentary, about Pip?
“MJ wasn’t even on the team. Why was that in there? We handled that that year really well as a team. Pip knows that he was wrong for doing it, but yet and still we went after the game — Bill Cartwright stood up and said what he had to say, and then we handled it, it was over. It was over. We go on to take the Knicks to seven games. It was over. Why bring that up? That’s my question to everybody out there who’s listening.”
The interview concluded with Grant being asked why he repeatedly referred to “The Last Dance” as a “so-called documentary.” Some have pointed to the fact that two of Jordan’s closest confidantes, Estee Portnoy and Curtis Polk, were executive producers on the docuseries as an indication that Jordan had final say and creative control over the project. Director Jason Hehir has pushed back against that criticism, but Grant didn’t hesitate about what he believes to be a slanted point of view in favor of Jordan in the docuseries.
“When that so-called documentary is about one person, basically, and he has the last word on what’s going to be put out there … it’s not a documentary,” Grant said. “It’s his narrative of what happens in the last, quote-unquote, dance. That’s not a documentary, because a whole bunch of things was cut out, edited out. So that’s why I call it a so-called documentary.”