A lot happened in the first two episodes of ESPN’s Michael Jordan documentary.
The most scintillating story came during Jordan’s rookie year with the Bulls in 1984.
Jordan entered an NBA trying to escape its reputation for widespread drug use. In 1980, estimates pegged the number of players using cocaine at 40 percent to 75 percent (similar to estimates of players using marijuana now). In 1984, the league implemented a new drug policy.
But apparently the effects were limited on Chicago when Jordan joined the team later that year.
Hearing the Bulls described as a “traveling cocaine circus,” Jordan laughed for a tellingly long time. Then, he gave an anecdote (warning: profanity in video).
Jordan on ESPN:
Preseason, I think we were in Peoria. I was in the hotel. So I’m trying to find my teammates. So, I started knocking on doors. I get to this one door, and I knock on the door, and I can hear someone says, “Sh, sh, sh, some’s outside.” And then you hear this deep voice says, “Who is it?” I says, “MJ.” And then they all say, “Ah, f—, he’s just a rookie. Don’t worry about it. ” So, they open up the door. I walk in, and practically the whole team was in there. And it was like, things I’ve never seen in my life, you know, as a young kid. You got your lines over here. You got your weed smokers over here. You got your women over here. So, the first thing I said, “Look, man. I’m out.” Because all I could think about is, if they come and raid this place right about now, I am just as guilty as everybody else that’s in this room. And from that point on, I was more or less on my own.
I enjoyed just hanging out, playing cards, watching movies. You know, I wasn’t going to the clubs.
I don’t smoke. I don’t do lines. I didn’t drink at the time. I was looking just to get some rest, get up and go play.
It’s to Jordan’s credit he didn’t get swept into that culture. He put his stamp on the Bulls – not the other way around.
Besides Jordan, Chicago had 13 players at that point:
- Orlando Woolridge (later discussed drug use)
- Quintin Dailey (later discussed drug use)
- Ennis Whatley (later discussed drug use)
- Dirk Minniefield (later discussed drug use)
- Dave Corzine
- Dave Greenwood
- Steve Johnson
- Caldwell Jones
- Jawann Oldham
- Sidney Green
- Rod Higgins
- Charles Jones
- Chris Engler
Most of them were gone by the start of the next season. Nearly all the rest were gone by the start of the following season. Only Corzine, who got traded to the Magic in 1989, lasted past 1986.