Skip to main content

BJ Armstrong Said Michael Jordan Rarely Slept During His NBA Career: “If He Would Have Slept, We Don't Know How Good He Really Would Have Been. We Didn’t See The Best Of Michael Jordan Because He Didn’t Sleep For 14 Years Literally."


Michael Jordan's relentless mentality has become the stuff of legend. Jordan is considered by many to be the greatest player of all time. 

And a big reason why he was able to attain all the success he did was his mentality. Jordan was arguably the most determined player in NBA history. While his talent was otherworldly, Jordan's tenacity and desire to win and get better made him the greatest to ever do it.

In a past interview, Jordan's former teammate BJ Armstrong spoke about Michael Jordan's mentality and hard work. 

He revealed that Michael Jordan almost never slept during his career. Armstrong shared his amazement over Jordan playing 40 minutes a night, getting almost no sleep, and then coming into practice and playing at a level higher than anyone there. Armstrong believes that MJ never slept during his career.

“With no sleep. His true gift, as Rex knows… If he would have slept, we don't how good he really would have been. We didn't see the best of Michael Jordan because he didn't sleep for 14 years literally. This isn’t a little sleep, he literally didn’t sleep. I was just, my moment was watching him play 35-40 minutes, then come to practice with the same energy. Now wait a minute, this isn’t normal. We didn’t show him practicing. He might be the greatest player ever, I don’t know who the greatest is, he’s certainly somewhere in there. He was the greatest practice player I’ve ever seen. I’ve never seen a guy practice this hard and that’s what we should be showing the kids. Because we’re just showing them the games when the lights were on. I’ve never seen a guy this competitive and he’s always on. He always brings it. In practice, I realized he’s different. I was at the same place he was at and I’m a little tired today. Everybody else is a little tired. And all of a sudden, when Phil Jackson blew the whistle, this guy acts like he got 10 hours of sleep. And, he didn’t eat. You got a guy that didn’t sleep, he didn’t eat, he’s playing cards, or whatever he’s doing at night… And the guy is playing, and you’re just like ‘wait a minute, he just played 45 minutes the other night. How?”

Jordan was known to enjoy playing cards and smoking cigars, often after his games. Now it is likely that Armstrong was exaggerating, and Jordan got a little bit of sleep. But considering just how driven Michael Jordan was, there may be some truth to what Armstrong is saying.

Regardless of how much sleep he got, Jordan was always the best player on the court, regardless of who his opponents were. Jordan knew that or at least believed that enough for it to drive his performances. Being better was not enough for MJ, he had to prove it to his opponents.