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Michael Jordan Gave Luc Longley An Ultimatum Over His Play: "If He Doesn't Catch Any More Of My Passes, I'm Going To Hit Him Right In The Face With It"

Michael Jordan Gave Luc Longley An Ultimatum Over His Play: "If He Doesn't Catch Any More Of My Passes, I'm Going To Hit Him Right In The Face With It"

Michael Jordan was a very driven athlete during his career. There was nothing Jordan wouldn't do if it would get him even a little bit closer to secure the win. MJ could not stand losing and would react badly when he and his teammates came up short. 

Jordan has explained that his ultimate desire to win led to him being harsh on his teammates. He felt he needed to take the responsibility for his teammates performing better. And he would do all he could in practice and during games to ensure that his teammates would step up whenever he needed them to. 

When Jordan came out of retirement for the first time in 1995, he came back to a completely new look Chicago Bulls squad. Other than Scottie Pippen, Jordan was dealing with almost an entirely new squad. So they had no idea what it was like to play with Jordan. 

After the Bulls exited the playoffs in 1995, Jordan made sure all his teammates came back immediately to prepare for the new season. Jordan was extremely harsh on his new teammates, as he felt that he had toughened them up and make sure that they would perform at the highest level. 

To get that to happen, he would be very harsh with them, using strong language and being tough on them during their practice. And he would often berate and punish them if he felt that they needed it to be better. And according to Pick And Roll Australia, this happened to Bulls' big man Luc Longley. In his book, Longley wrote about his first experience playing with Michael Jordan. 

Initially, he did not like Jordan, because of how Jordan treated him. And the two would clash constantly in practice. When Jordan returned, he turned his attention to Longley to make sure he improves. After a run of games in 1995 where the Bulls were struggling, Jordan sternly warned Longley that he needs to not fumble his passes, and if he did, Jordan would throw the ball directly at his face. During another game, Jordan gave the ball to Scottie Pippen, who passed the ball to Longley, but Longley let the ball go out of bounds. This caused Jordan to scream at Pippen reminding him that he was not to pass the ball to Longley.

“I’d have to say after he came back, I really didn’t like the guy,” Longley wrote in his 1996 book, Running With the Bulls. “I found him difficult to be around and he and I obviously didn’t see eye-to-eye. We were at each other’s throats in practice and … that was a case of frustration from both of us, mostly from him.”

Shortly after Jordan's return in 1995, Longley became one of his targets. The then three-time champion accepted nothing less than excellence, and had little patience for mistakes on the court.

"I told Luc," Jordan said after a few games back, in 1995. "if he doesn't catch any more of my passes, I'm going to hit him right in the face with it. I'm going to start throwing them right at his head."

On another occasion, Jordan threw the ball out to Scottie Pippen on a fast break. Pippen took one dribble and passed ahead to Longley, who lost the ball out of bounds. "I told you," Jordan yelled at Pippen, "don't ever pass him the ball on the break."

Jordan and Longley would eventually recover their relationship, and become valued teammates for each other. Recently, Jordan even did a 30-minute interview with ABC Australia to talk about Luc Longley for his docuseries. Jordan was clearly very harsh on his teammates, but no one can argue with the results that he had. 

During his second stint in Chicago, Jordan and the Bulls won three consecutive NBA championships between 1996 and 1998. It was the franchise and Jordan's second three-peat, after their first one between 1991 and 1993. While his teammates may not have liked his methods, Jordan was successful in finding success.