Did Michael Jordan keep Craig Hodges out of The Last Dance?

Craig Hodges wonders if Michael Jordan is keeping him out of The Last Dance on purpose.

Craig Hodges was once a starter for the Chicago Bulls. In the 1989 playoffs, Hodges started every game in the backcourt alongside Michael Jordan. He infamously got beat back door by Craig Ehlo with three seconds left in Game 5 versus Cleveland, immediately rescued by Jordan’s ‘The Shot‘, which vaulted the Bulls onto the national stage as championship contenders.

Hodges scored in double figures 11 times during that playoff run. He had a team-high 19 in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals in the Bulls loss to Detroit. On that night, Jordan appeared to be running out of gas, shooting 5-of-15, finishing with 18. Hodges, somewhat surprisingly, was not in the starting lineup to start the 1989-90 season and wonders why.

“Ask MJ that. How in the NBA do you be the top 3-point shooter in the game, do what I just did in the playoffs and I’m out of the starting line-up?” Hodges asked in an appearance on Da Windy City podcast. “But, I didn’t b***h about it. I gave up my starting spot cause Phil (Jackson) knew I wouldn’t moan and groan about it. I’m going to win.”

Hodges’ biggest contribution to the team may have come during that 1989-1990 season. It did not involve his sharpshooting off the bench, but rather his knowledge of The Triangle Offense the Bulls were trying to implement. Doug Collins had been fired stunningly after the season, replaced by Phil Jackson. Tex Winter was a holdover assistant who Jackson relied heavily upon and Hodges knew well. The goal of the new offense was to take pressure off Jordan and get more players involved while building up their confidence.

“Tex Winter was my college coach,” Hodges said. “When Phil Jackson put us in triangle, Tex Winter and Craig Hodges taught the Chicago Bulls the triangle, not Tex Winter and Phil Jackson. The transition in the triangle was smooth because Tex Winter and Craig Hodges had been together for four years at Long Beach State and I had a doctorate in the triangle.”

The Hodges part of the offense transition could have been touched on in “The Last Dance,” along with Jordan not going to the White House with his teammates after the 1991 championship. Jordan was reportedly golfing, while Hodges was at the White House wearing a white dashiki along with a letter he has written and delivered to then-President George H.W. Bush.

The letter sought additional attention to the violence and economic plight of poor and minority communities, a longtime area of activism of Hodges.

Politics and public activism was something Jordan had always shied away from, underlined once again in episode five of “The Last Dance.” Deloris Jordan encouraged her son to endorse Harvey Gantt in his 1990 bid for the U.S. Senate. Gantt was running against incumbent Jesse Helms, who had voted against both the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act. Jordan instead donated money to Gantt, but did not make a public endorsement.

Hodges had encouraged Jordan at different times to do more with his platform to make a difference, including  boycotting the NBA Finals in 1991. The Finals came just months after the Rodney King beating in Los Angeles.

“When we played in our first championship against the Lakers, I asked Michael Jordan and Magic (Johnson) to boycott as a team,” Hodges said. “At that point 21 of the 24 athletes playing were black, and we were looking for black ownership, black general managers, black executives in the league.”

Both Jordan and Johnson told Hodges that “it was too extreme” and that the league “wouldn’t go for that.” Does Jordan hold a grudge against Hodges for pushing him to be more active in the social discourse conversation and then kept Hodges out of the documentary? Hodges is not sure.

“I wonder about that,” Hodges said. “It’s really, I don’t want to say odd, but it’s odd. I feel like I played a significant role in us getting over the hump.”

To hear the entire Craig Hodges interview, check out Da Windy City podcast.

Products You May Like

Articles You May Like

Rudy Gobert and Anthony Edwards might have awkward meeting with Timberwolves
Timberwolves tried trading for Kevin Durant before landing Rudy Gobert
Kyrie Irving trade destinations, ranked from best to worst
Warriors fill backcourt void with former NBA champion
NBA rumors: Cavs are ‘very interested’ in bringing back Ricky Rubio

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.