The long-awaited 10-part documentary series about Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls of 1997-1998 finally debuted on Sunday evening to give immediate praise. An NBA film crew got unprecedented access to the team, largely because everyone knew that no matter what happened, it would be the last season for this historic group.
But according to former Bulls coach Tim Floyd, the breakup almost happened even earlier. In an interview with ESPN 104.5 at Baton Rouge on Monday, Floyd – who was hired as the Bulls’ head coach after the 1997-98 season – said he had a discussion with owner Jerry Reinsdorf about succession to Phil Jackson after 1995-96. season.
Floyd, however, says he told Reinsdorf that it would be a bad idea and that general manager Jerry Krause should let the group die “of a natural death” rather than start a reconstruction. As transcribed by ESPN:
“Anyway, I told Jerry Reinsdorf that day,” said Floyd on the radio, “I don’t think Jerry [Krause] understands that these guys are basically the Beatles. It’s the most popular franchise of all time. I said, “If I’m you, I wouldn’t do that. Not even the following year. Let him die a natural death, because there are certain teams and players that you don’t break. I think these guys have earned the right to let him die of his own death. “”
“Jerry Reinsdorf asked me, ‘Tim, could you tell Jerry Krause what you told me in downtown Seattle next year?’ Said Floyd. “I said to Jerry Krause, and he said you don’t understand, I can’t do it. I don’t want to work with Phil anymore. I said, “Why don’t you work downtown and let Phil work the other place [facility]? Stay away from hell because it works. ”
Floyd’s advice was sound, as the Bulls won the title in the 1996-97 and 1997-98 seasons. Unfortunately for him, it was probably the best thing he had ever done for Chicago.
By the time Floyd was hired, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman were all gone, and the reconstruction didn’t go smoothly. The Bulls have never won more than 17 games while Floyd was in command, with a 49-190 combination before resigning at the start of their fourth season.
While it was well known that Krause, Jackson, Jordan and Pippen had not had a healthy working relationship in recent seasons, the interview with Floyd is another reminder of how turbulent things were in Chicago – even with victory.