Will Perdue: My scout team was ‘kicking the first unit’s butt’ when Michael Jordan punched me

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Horace Grant told the story of Michael Jordan punching Will Perdue at a Bulls practice.

Perdue said Grant got the essence of the story right, but added a few details:

First of all, the second unit was kicking the first unit’s butt, and Michael wasn’t too happy about it. And we used to do that actually quite often in practice.

Secondly, we were the scout team running some plays of the team we were going to play the next night and Johnny Bach was the defensive coach. And what we used to do was run about five high-frequency plays of our opponent.

Well, one of them was they were going to continue to run the screen-roll to see if Michael was going to continue to try to work his way over the screen over four quarters, because they knew the guy coming off the screen was the shooter. Michael didn’t want to go under, neither did Phil or Johnny Bach want Michael to go under. So, they are going to want to lay some wood on him, is the terminology, try to knock him off a screen and see, will you continue to do this for four quarters?

So, we kept running this play, and sometimes my screens were illegal. Sometimes they were not. But my job was to make sure I hit him. Well one time he said, ‘If you do that again I’m going to make you pay for it.’ Well Johnny Bach just stood there and goes, ‘Run it again.’

So we ran it again, and this time I figured if I’m going to get my money’s worth. I nailed him, knocked him to the ground, kind of stood over him a little bit. He stood up, popped me and before I could get him they got us and that was the end of it.

He apologized later, but he got me pretty good.

Though he was throwing haymakers, I’m sure Jordan loved this. This type of day-in, day-out intensity made his Bulls great.