The Truth About Michael Jordan And Horace Grant's Relationship

ESPN's 10-part docuseries The Last Dance pulls back the curtain on the iconic 1990s Chicago Bulls, especially Michael Jordan and his golden boy persona. The episodes don't always show the most flattering image of Jordan, particularly in regard to his competitive nature and tough-love approach with his teammates. When Chicago Tribune reporter Sam Smith's book The Jordan Rules: The Inside Story of a Turbulent Season was released in 1992, fans learned a lot about Jordan's supposed treatment of his teammates.

During the 2020 documentary, the Space Jam star commented, "Obviously, when you do books like that, you gotta have controversial things." Among other things, Smith claimed Jordan told his teammates not to pass the ball to specific people, otherwise they wouldn't get the ball again.

While Smith used a number of different sources to research the book, Jordan put the blame on one guy: Horace Grant. During episode six, Jordan said, "I knew who contributed to that and that was Horace. He was telling everything that was happening within the group." In the same episode, Grant insisted, "No, not one thing have I ever divulged to Sam Smith about my relationship with my fellow teammates. A lot of people, because Sam and I have a good relationship, used me as a scapegoat." Fellow Chicago Bulls alum B.J. Armstrong partially supported Jordan's theory when he said, "It couldn't have just been Horace. It had to come from a number of different places."

So, what's the deal with these two former teammates?

There are rumors Michael Jordan wouldn't let Horace Grant eat after a bad game

Author Sam Smith talked about Michael Jordan and Horace Grant's relationship during a May 2020 appearance on the Tolbert, Krueger, and Brooks podcast. New York Post reported Smith shared, "Players would come to me over the years and said, 'You know what [Jordan] did? He took Horace [Grant's] food away on the plane because Horace had a bad game." Apparently, the NBA legend told flight attendants, "Don't feed him, he doesn't deserve to eat." However, Smith didn't include this anecdote in his book because players didn't want their names associated with the story.

That same month, Undisputed host Shannon Sharpe said, "Horace told me: 'If you didn't confront Mike, he would ride you every day, all day, all the time. You had to stand up for yourself. I didn't have a problem with Mike the player, I had a problem with how he tried to motivate me.'" Jordan told The Athletic, "When people see this footage I'm not sure they're going to be able to understand why I was so intense, why I did the things I did, why I acted the way I acted, and why I said the things I said."

During episode eight of The Last Dance, Jordan remarked, "Winning has a price and leadership has a price. So I pulled people along when they didn't want to be pulled. I challenged people when they didn't want to be challenged."

Horace Grant claims Michael Jordan punched Will Perdue

In 2015, Horace Grant dished on playing with Michael Jordan during an interview for Hot 97. Yahoo! Sports reported that Grant claimed Jordan punched Will Perdue in the face during a practice after Perdue set an illegal pick on Jordan. Grant claimed, "M.J. walks up to Will — boom. Lit him up. It was over... So, the next day on the plane, Will gets on the plane with a huge shiner."

Grant also opened up to Hot 97 about Jordan's trash-talking, even to his own teammates. He shared, "With MJ, nothing was off limits, your mom, your wife, your kids, your brother, your dog. You name it." He added, "Michael and I really didn't have a great relationship. We respected each other as teammates in terms of us having one goal and that goal was winning a championship. We didn't hang out that much off the court. He had his friends, I had my friends." In case it wasn't already abundantly clear, these two weren't the closest of pals.

Still, Horace Grant says Michael Jordan is the best player he's ever seen

Despite the fact that they're not best friends, Horace Grant had Michael Jordan's back in 2013 after Scottie Pippen predicted that LeBron James would end his career as the best basketball player of all time. In response to Pippen, Grant told The Chicago Tribune, "LeBron has many years to play, and Scottie was really drinking that day when he said that."

He continued, "You can't compare anybody to Michael. You can compare, but Michael is the best player I've ever seen or ever played against. Not taking anything away from Kobe [Bryant] or LeBron or Carmelo [Anthony] or even [Derrick Rose], but wait until those guys get through playing. Then you can say compare the two careers."

Ultimately, Grant feels "you can't compare [eras]" because of how much the game has changed. He added, "It was more physical back then. Today you can run around without getting touched. Today, Michael Jordan would average about 45 points." He was also asked how it would go if The Heat, James' team at the time, played the Bulls back in their prime. Grant declared, "We would have kicked their asses."

When it comes down to it, Jordan and Grant are very different as people and as players. While Jordan maintains to this day that Grant snitched on him for Sam Smith's book, Grant has been able to put their issues aside and give credit where credit is due.