In the mid-’80s, the Chicago Bulls weren’t just bad, they were outdrawn-by-an-indoor-soccer-team-that-no-longer-exists bad. Their badness in an ’83-’84 season in which they won just 27 games meant they picked third in the 1984 NBA Draft, a pick they used on Michael Jordan. The rest, as they say is history, and The Last Dance is retelling that history. That’s great news for sports fans desperate for something to watch, including LeBron James and NBA Twitter, but not everyone is pleased with the ten-part documentary series.
You can count three-time three-point shooting contest champion Craig Hodges among the haters. Hodges, who played with Jordan on the Bulls from 1988 to 1992, told Fox Sports Radio about his disappointment in one particular story shared by his former teammate.
“I’m watching the first episode and I was upset about the ‘cocaine circus.’ That bothered me because I was thinking about the brothers who are on that picture with you who have to explain to their families who are getting ready to watch this great Michael Jordan documentary event and they know you’re on the team, and now you’ve got to explain that to a 12-year-old boy.”
To be clear, Jordan didn’t use the phrase “cocaine circus.” The interviewer mentioned that the team he was drafted into was sometimes called “the Bulls traveling cocaine circus.” When he heard the phrase, Jordan burst into laughter before he shared an anecdote from before he’d played a single minute of real NBA basketball.
“I had one event, preseason, I think we were in Peoria. It was in the hotel, so I’m trying to find my teammates. I started knocking on doors. I get to this one door, and I knock on the door and I can hear someone says, ‘Shhhh… someone’s outside.’ And then you hear this deep voice say, ‘Who is it?’ I say, ‘MJ.’ And then they all say, ‘Aw fuck, he’s just a rookie, don’t worry about it.’
“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 as a young kid. You got your lines over here, your weed smokers over here, you’ve got your women over here.”
“The first thing I said, ‘Look, man, I’m out.’ Cause all I can about think is, if they come and raid this place right about now, I am just as guilty as everyone else that’s in this room. And from that point on, I was more or less on my own.”
Jordan is basically saying that most of the guys on this list were engaging in illegal activities. It’s certainly an illuminating anecdote, but Hodges — who wasn’t even on the Bulls at the time — said that Jordan betrayed a “fraternity” by airing their dirty laundry in public, something that likely prompted some uncomfortable conversations between those players and their families.
Every member of the 1984-85 Bulls watching in their living room is right now explaining to their family that they weren't in the cocaine circus.
— Kevin Clark (@bykevinclark) April 20, 2020
It’s understandable where Hodges is coming from, but it seems kind of nuts to blame the guy who by all accounts wasn’t doing lines instead of the guys who earned their team the nickname in the first place. Why should they not face the consequences of their actions?
We’re also not convinced that Jordan isn’t doing them a favor. Kids tend to appreciate honesty from their parents, particularly when its honesty about a subject that isn’t particularly easy to discuss. The Last Dance, if it is prompting these conversations, is an opportunity for those former players to play it straight. And if their goal is to convince their kids not to do drugs, then it’s hard to think of evidence more compelling than personal experience.
So instead of complaining about his former teammate, maybe Hodges should consider that honesty might not be such a bad thing for everyone after all.