Michael Jordan 'Lied About Several Things' in 'The Last Dance,' Claims 'The Jordan Rules' Author

The final episode of The Last Dance may have aired almost a week ago, but debates sparked by ESPN's 10-part documentary chronicling Michael Jordan's final season with the Chicago Bulls still simmer.

While Jason Hehir's documentary has been a hit with viewers and received almost universal acclaim, it has also come under criticism for telling Jordan's story exclusively from his point of view and for the way it portrayed some of his former teammates.

Sam Smith, the author of The Jordan Rules, has claimed Jordan "lied about" multiple incidents in the documentary.

Specifically, the former Chicago Tribune reporter said Jordan's assertion that then-head coach Phil Jackson, Dennis Rodman and Scottie Pippen would have been happy to return for the 1998-99 season had they been offered a new deal by the Bulls was a "blatant lie."

The Bulls began the 1997-98 season knowing the team will be broken apart, after Bulls general manager Jerry Krause had told Jackson he would be replaced at the end of the season even if he "went 82-0."

Chicago clinched a third consecutive title, their sixth in eight years, and Jordan believes the players had earned their right to be given the chance to defend their title the following season.

"If you asked all the guys who won in '98 ... 'We'll give you a one-year contract to try for a seventh,' you think they would've signed? Yes, they would've signed," Jordan said in Episode 10.

"Would I have signed for one year? Yes, I would've signed for one year. I've been signing one-year contracts up to that."

The statement came a surprise, given it had been widely accepted that Jordan and his teammates had accepted an era had come to an end in Chicago.

"That was a complete and blatant lie by Michael," Smith said on 95.7 The Game's Bonta, Steiny & Guru show. "There were several things in the documentary that I saw, I would know, that he made up or he lied about. They weren't major things, but it was like when a TV movie comes on and they say, 'this is based on a true story.'

"That's what that was. It was based on a true story."

Smith also dismissed Jordan's claims he had food poisoning after eating pizza the night before Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals.

For years the accepted version was that Jordan had suffered from a serious bout of flu, which had left him looking distinctly feverish and debilitated ahead of what has become known as "The Flu Game."

Against all odds, Jordan finished with 38 points, seven rebounds and five assists as the Bulls defeated the Jazz 90-88 to take a crucial 3-2 lead.

In Episode 9 of the documentary, Jordan revealed he had not been left worse for wear by the flu, but by a pizza he had ordered at 10:30 p.m. the previous night while in his hotel room with trainer Tim Glover and personal assistant George Koehler.

"I ate the pizza," Jordan said in the documentary. "All by myself. Nobody else ate the pizza. I wake up about 2:30 throwing up left and right."

"It really wasn't the flu game. It was food poisoning."

Smith, however, said the story was inaccurate.

"The pizza thing—the poison—that was complete nonsense," he said. "There were a couple of other things like that I won't go into. They weren't major. ... I know what happened."

As the author of arguably the most explosive book ever written about Jordan, Smith featured prominently throughout the documentary.

The Jordan Rules sent shockwaves that reverberated well beyond the NBA borders when it hit the shelves in November 1991.

The book revealed a new side of Jordan, a million miles away from the phenomenal player that had developed into an NBA superstar and commercial icon.

In the book, Jordan emerged as a man so consumed by his determination to win that he could barely tolerate his teammates falling short of the incredibly high standards he set for himself.

Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls
Michael Jordan in action during the 1997 NBA regular season. Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty

Speaking to Newsweek earlier this month, Smith said The Last Dance offered the first glimpse of the real Jordan in almost three decades.

"What's best about the documentary [is] to see him in these current interviews, comfortable, natural, funny, competitive," he explained. "That's what he was like every day, great fun to be around.

"As his fame grew along with the team's with the winning and the ensuing revelations—from my book to the gambling junkets—he became more and more guarded and reclusive. This is the first time people are seeing the Jordan we loved since 1992."

The documentary, however, left a bitter taste in the mouths of some of Jordan's former teammates, chief among them Horace Grant, who won three titles alongside Jordan between 1991 and 1993, and Pippen.

During an interview with ESPN 1000's Kap and Co radio show on Tuesday, Grant said "90 percent of the documentary was b******t" and that it had been edited to make Jordan look better.

A day later, David Kaplan, the host of Kap and Co, said Pippen was "beyond livid" at his portrayal in the documentary.

"He [Pippen] is so angry at Michael [Jordan] and how he was portrayed, called selfish, called this, called that, that he's furious that he participated and did not realize what he was getting himself into," he said.

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