Michael Jordan Interview 1995

Ok, we know that this interview is pretty old, but it is so good, we are keeping it on the web in case we want to remember one of the greatest times in Chicago sports history…

On the season’s eve (Oct 1995 – before 4th Championship), Cheryl Raye-Stout was granted an interview with Michael, and they spoke for 37 minutes about what he expected out of this year, his thoughts on how he “came back” and what he expects for his future as a Bull.

Interview Highlights

Warming Up

“You were always considered the best…”

What will it take to Win it?

MJ addresses the “Naysayers”

Michael’s confidence

Trash-Talking in the NBA

MJ on “Proving Himself”

Basketball During Baseball

Has Michael lost any moves?

Workouts during movie-making

Michael’s input on the 95-96 roster (Rodman)

1995 Post season recap

MJ on 95-96 team’s “potential”

Michael’s thoughts on uncoming new contract

“How many years do you want to play?”

MJ thoughts on Scottie’s contract

Michael Jordan’s prediction on the 95-96 season

All WAV files that are available are of the words that are in italics, you actually hear the interview as it happened.

Warming up

Cheryl Raye-Stout : Watching you this preseason, it almost seems like it’s a repeat of just a few years ago. You look like you’re in such great shape. Where are you at right now, physically, mentally and all the above?
Michael Jordan : I’m right where I want to be. I started basketball early to get some of the cricks off my game-the rust-and now I’m ready to get to the regular season… I’m very confident in my skills. I can see the little hole and get to it and through it. So mentally and physically I think I’m on the same page.

Cheryl Raye-Stout : Where is your game at right now as opposed to maybe a couple of years ago, when you were playing before in the championship?

Michael Jordan : From a mental aspect I’m fresher because of time away from the game, time to evaluate certain situations within my life, get rededicated to the game and see the stages and the levels that it took to get to the level that I was at ….
I guess I just got a better sense of who I am as a basketball player, which I was kind of losing through all the glamour and all the accolades I was receiving two years ago. I’m ready to earn those stripes back;

I kind of lost them in time because of not playing the game of basketball.People pass you up. So now it’s a matter of making up the distance between you and them.

“You were always considered the Best…”

Cheryl Raye-Stout : You were always considered the best. Are you now saying that maybe you aren’t the best, or you have to regain being the best?

Michael Jordan :  In two years a lot of things happened. A lot of talent has come in. Other players have matured to be better players than when I faced them, so it’s hard to give yourself or consider yourself the best when you haven’t faced the best of this era.

So there’s still some unanswered questions in my mind, and the best way to find out the answers is to step on the court and see what happens.

Cheryl Raye-Stout : Is that one of the biggest challenges you face? To get that mantle back?

Michael Jordan :  Yes. It isn’t the point that someone knocked me off. I took myself away from that mantle for a while because from a mental aspect, I needed the time away. And while I was away, other people stepped up their game. Now I’m back with a clear mind, with a different feeling, a different attitude, a different appetite. I want to get back to where I was.

What will it take to win it?

Cheryl Raye-Stout : What do you think it’s going to take for you and the Bulls to get up there? There are obstacles, there’ve been some personnel changes. The league has changed; there’s a lot more parity involved.

Michael Jordan :  I think we have a caliber of team players that can win. But we need to go through a rapid maturity. The first time around, it took us three years to gel and blend together. Now, we’ve blended a couple of players who’ve been playing together for a period of time: myself, who’s played with a couple of players and our coach for a period of time and you have two players from teams who have been champions [Dennis Rodman & James Edwards] and they know how to play together and they know how to play with other people. So hopefully, that’senough to mature rapidly, to play as one and play collectively as one unit on the floor.

MJ Addresses the “Naysayers”

Cheryl Raye-Stout : There are a lot of people who are naysayers out there. I don’t know what it is with you: They always want to take you down a few pegs and say, “He’s not what he used to be” or “He isn’t what he used to be.” Does that burn in you or does it not bother you at all?

Michael Jordan :  It does both. From a personality standpoint, I don’t have any anger toward that person or whoever says that because that’s his [or her] opinion. Sometimes that’s a natural opinion. I take it as energy to motivate myself and become better as a player … to prove to myself that I can play better or play consistent or play at the level I’ve been playing.
It’s always going to fall back on proving it to myself, not to that individual who may have his own opinion. By no means am I ever going to please them anyway. Every little mistake is going to be a huge mistake to them…. I’ve made mistakes before and I’m going to make mistakes now. It’s just that the naysayer is going to look at that mistake and magnify it. As a person, I can’t allow myself to do that. If I do, I’m doubting myself, and I should never do that.

Michael Jordan’s Confidence

Cheryl Raye-Stout : You’ve always had a swagger. I don’t mean that in a demeaning way, but there’s just this confidence about you on the court.Do you think it’s still there? Do you think you still need it? Or do you think that what you’ve accomplished somewhat offsets all that?

Michael Jordan :  I still have that confidence about myself. it’s just that in two years, a lot of things have changed in how people show their confidence. A lot of times a guy shows it after a dunk or after a game or a certain move or whatever. I’m from the old school: I may say it after a season, I may say it after a game, but I don’t do it as openly as a lot of players do. But I carry that confidence every time I step on the basketball court. I deserve to be there for a reason. I believe I am the best at what I do. It’s just a matter of showing it.

Trash-Talking in the NBA

Cheryl Raye-Stout : Does it bother you, though, that some of the guys are coming on now the new generation-it’s not swagger, it’s almost demeaning the way they can be.
The trash-talking-I mean, you’re a good trash-talker, everybody knows that-but they’ve taken it to a level that’s almost harmful in a way.

Michael Jordan :  I see that. It’s always a conscious effort not to get caught up into that…. Me, I just stick to my game, and let my game do my talking.

People that I know, Charles [Oakley], Patrick [Ewing], I may say a little bit and talk a little trash. People I don’t know, I’m very quiet about that. I won’t say that to those people. But today’s athletes, they don’t care, they just show it. And some players use it as motivation. It’s hard to tell them not to. I think the league is trying to contain that as much as possible, because it initiates fights and it initiates hard feelings.
In the old days, when we used to talk trash, it was never a demeaning situation where you walked off the court and hated someone. If anything, you walked off the court and respected that person. And now it’s a little different. It has a little bit more of a dagger to it, where it’s personal to the point of being harmful.

MJ on “Proving Himself”

Cheryl Raye-Stout : Do you still have something to prove to yourself or to others as far as you’re concerned, or is that pretty much resolved?

Michael Jordan :  There’s a priority there. I have something to prove to myself first. Once I prove it to myself I can prove it to the public. I can prove it to the media. I can prove it to anyone else. But I need to prove it to myself first. If I can’t prove it to myself, then I can’t prove it to anyone else.

Some of the young guys you talked about earlier; who are some of the specific players now that when you see them on a court you almost want to challenge them?

Michael Jordan :  Those guys are the up and-coming stars, and it’s always a challenge to face those guys. [Glenn] “Big Dog” Robinson, Grant Hill, Anfernee Hardaway, Kendall Gill, [Latrell] Spreewell, Mitch Richmond: All these guys who are very competitive. They have such a great demeanor about themselves, and they’re very confident about their skills….

It’s fun just to compete and see how well you stack up against them. They’re going to draw the best talent out of you each and every night, every time you face them. That’s what I thrive on. That’s what I look forward to.

Basketball during Baseball

Cheryl Raye-Stout : Did you watch them when you were not playing the last couple of years, or were you staying away from watching basketball?

Michael Jordan :  I was pretty much away. I was kind of into the baseball thing. I was watching a lot of baseball, trying to learn from observation, and every time I would watch [basketball], I’d watch with other players-baseball players-so I felt I could commentate a little bit more. I could give different insights in terms of what players were thinking about and saying.

Has Michael Jordan Lost Any Moves?

Cheryl Raye-Stout : Is there anything that you used to do on the court that you now say, “I can’t do that anymore.”?

Michael Jordan :  I don’t think so. A lot of times, as I was saying earlier, it’s never predetermined. Instinctively it happens. And the defense dictates that. For me to say that I can’t do the move I did against the L.A. Lakers [in the 1991 NBA Finals] when I switched hands, I mean, I never thought I could do it from day one. So what makes me think I can’t do it now? … Right now, everything that I know: Can I shoot, can I dribble, can I dunk the ball? Can I do all those physical things? I know I can. Can I do all the other unbelievable things that I’ve done in the past? I’ll never know until the situation presents itself.

Workouts during movie-making

Cheryl Raye-Stout : When you were working on the movie, Space Jam, how did you fit in the filming schedule with your basketball training?

Michael Jordan :  As you know, they built a facility… where I could take showers, work out or play basketball, watch films, watch TV or do whatever.My days normally ran from 8 to 1. I would start lifting weights from 1:30 to 3, go back, finish my day. At 7:30, I’d come back over and play until 9:30. I’d go back, and go through the same things every day.

Cheryl Raye-Stout : They built you the dome, and you had different players working with you.

Michael Jordan :  Different players, different talents, different players to look at. Grant Hill. Chris Mills. Patrick [Ewing].Alonzo [Mourning]. Larry Johnson. Charles Barkley. Most of the L.A. guys. Reggie Miller. [Derrick] McKey. Just to go on, it was amazing how many players came in with different talents that I got a chance to look at, got a chance to compete and get my memory refreshed.

Cheryl Raye-Stout : That’s the best way to do it, isn’t it? An instant memory thing. Also, doesn’t it tell you where you’re at that point?

Michael Jordan :  Oh yeah. You get to judge your level, your competitiveness, your skills toward some of these players-especially the players I’m used to playing against. Reggie Miller was a great measuring stick for me because we competed so much against each other. I played against him every day. Chris Mills was new. I wasn’t used to playing against Chris, and I learned how to play against him. I learned how to play against Grant Hill for a couple of days. Rod Strickland, guarding some point guards, knowing that I’d have to play some point guard [this season]. Poch Richardson. Charles Oakley, same game-can’t go into the paint when he’s around. I took some of that abuse for a while.But it was good for me to go through that before I got into training camp. Now, it’s very simple.

Cheryl Raye-Stout : You never liked training camp, though. This is different for you, but you almost have to have it now.

Michael Jordan :  I always thought it was another opportunity to get hurt, with no meaning behind it. Well, I see the meaning going through this now, sharpening some of my tools. There’s a purpose for it. For a lot of players who don’t work out as hard during the summer, it’s a means for them to get themselves into shape.
I always was in pretty good shape. I always prepared myself-that was the difference. I always felt that way when I came into training camp, that I was in pretty good shape. And that I didn’t really need training camp.It’s a different outlook. There is a purpose to training camp. I kind of lost it. That was probably one of the things that I had to take the time away and re-evaluate. Those things were slipping away.

Michael Jordan’s input on the 95-96 roster – Rodman

Cheryl Raye-Stout : This year, the Bulls have undergone some major lineup changes. How much input did you have into the makeup of this club that we’re going to see in the ’95-’96 season?

Michael Jordan :  Not as much as people think. A couple major decisions they asked, with Dennis Rodman and Randy Brown …. I guess they asked me from a team captain’s standpoint, because on the court, with Dennis, if anything happens, I gotta go over there and try to calm him down.

If Randy’s out there confused as a 2-guard-he and I play the guard positions we’ve got to have some comfort. I’m not a man who wants to make those decisions consistently because that’s not my job. I’d like to have harmony on the team. I know it’s not always going to be that way, but as long as we step on the basketball court, if those guys give you 110 percent and understand the game, that’s all I ever ask from anyone including myself.

The 1995 Post Season Recap

Cheryl Raye-Stout : It was a lot of fun during the postseason when you, Scottie [Pippen] and Toni [Kucoc] started to click. You could see there was a flow and it was fun to watch. Were you enjoying it? It seemed like an ebb and flow that just continued.

Michael Jordan :  When you have good basketball players playing all together, it looks great when everybody’s clicking. The Celtics were very good examples of that. When we’re out there and we’re clicking, it’s great. When we’re not clicking, there’s something out of sync. I think it’s more so Toni than Pippen and myself, because we’ve played together. We have to be in a compromising situation here: Somehow we have to bring his game to meet our game.
He has to understand that too, to push himself on days that he doesn’t want to push so that we don’t lose the continuity of this threesome, because this threesome can be very powerful going into the playoffs. Quite frankly, myself, Pippen and Grant were the same way in the years we won championships. Whenever that was disrupted we lost that connective-ness. Somehow, we have to maintain that to win it all.

MJ on 1995-1996 teams “Potential”

Cheryl Raye-Stout : When you look at this team right now, and the potential that it has, does it remind you of those other teams, or do you just look at it as a different makeup, a different team?

Michael Jordan :  It’s a different makeup. You have some similarities. I think defense is going to be the strongpoint of this team. Offensively, we’re going to have to basically find it wherever we can find it. Back in those days, you threw it to Bill [Cartright], he gave you his good eight to 10 minutes offensively, penetrated the defense and made the defense think about him. And then we would throw different ways of scoring at them, either from B.J. [Armstrong] and [John] Paxson hitting threes, from Pippen or myself penetrating, or Horace just banging on the offensive boards. Well, Dennis [Rodman] is not an offensive-minded rebounder, which Horace was. He’ll rebound it, and throw it back out.Then we’ll have to run another half-court offense. We don’t have the penetration of myself to kick out to Paxson or B.J. [Steve] Kerr, yes, I think he can take up some of the slack. Outside that, we’re really pushing it.
We have a lot of streak shooters who fulfill that role on certain nights. How often will that happen? We’ll have to wait and see. Hopefully it will happen very often. Defensively,we’re pretty strong.

Michael Jordan’s thoughts on his upcoming new contract

Cheryl Raye-Stout :  You’re in the last year of your contract. There are so many things that can happen. In your mind, will you be back here next year, for a couple of years?

Michael Jordan :  I hope to. I put trust in Jerry [Reinsdorf] as he’s put trust in me for many years of my contract. I’ve always honored it, I’ve never really bickered about what I made …
I’d like to be in Chicago, and I hope that he understands that. I know I can never make what I’m justly due, but I think some consideration should always be made about what a person’s value is to this city and to this team, and find ways of trying to get close to it, if not reaching it. I think he will. I don’t have any doubts to think that he wouldn’t.

Cheryl Raye-Stout : Does it ever go through your mind, when you heard the Larry Johnson contract, when you heard the Shaquille O’Neal contract, how much money Michael Jordan really would’ve gotten in an open market if it wasn’t the way it was? That has to be boggling.

Michael Jordan :  It’s mind boggling, but it’s just a form of security. That’s all money is in this game. It doesn’t make you play better, it doesn’t make you play any less. I’m secure in other ways, so I can still play the game of basketball.
Quite frankly, it’s an ego thing-it’s a means of being considered the best, because it’s a status thing. Will I get caught up in it? No, I won’t get caught up in it. Should I have to? I think if you realize and know that I’m the best, then why waste time nit-picking and do whatever like a lot of the general managers do? But I don’t think the Bulls are going to do that, not with me.

“How many years do you want to play?”

Cheryl Raye-Stout : How many years do you want to play?

Michael Jordan :  I’d like to finish out my years with Pippen and Phil [Jackson]. Pippen’s got three years left; I’d like to play three more years, and we walk out the same time.

MJ’s Thoughts on Scottie’s Contract

Cheryl Raye-Stout : Scottie Pippen. Where do you see him now? There seems to be a metamorphosis in him and now you’re almost working in tandem, whereas before it was “Michael Jordan and the Jordanaires.” There seems to be a different relationship between you two on the floor than there was before.

Michael Jordan :  It’s a tandem, as you said. We’re both out front, we both know how to play the game. We’re both mature. Two years ago, three years ago, he was hiding behind me. When I left, he was exposed to things he really couldn’t see, because he was hiding behind me. He’s matured since then. We’re like brothers in a sense: He understands what I’ve gone through, and I certainly understand what he’s going through, too. We try to take the pressure off each other, we try to help out each other in whatever respect. The best thing about our relationship was the two years that I was away. He had a better understanding about everything that I was enduring …
He’s always been a great person, and now he’s able to let people know and understand his game, because for years, people said he was a choker who couldn’t finish in a situation. Well, I know better. The best thing about me being away is that people now know that he can play basketball …. If I look at someone who’s in direct competition with my talents, it’s Scottie Pippen.

Cheryl Raye-Stout : Has your relationship changed? It seems like with Scottie, he seems to respect you more.

Michael Jordan :  It seems to be a mutual respect. Two years ago, the triangle (of Scottie, Grant & MJ) wasn’t always a perfect triangle. I think two-thirds of it was pretty intact. The other third wasn’t always intact. On the court, you could never tell that. Off the court, we went our separate ways. Now, we’re on the court, we’re off the court. We go together on the court, we stick together. When I was away, he missed me being around as much as I missed being around him, which is one of the reasons I came back: to relieve some of that tension …. Once I came back, he didn’t want to be traded, and I wouldn’t have come back if he was traded. It was a mutual understanding, and I think it will continue to be that.
When my contract comes up at the end of this year, if Pippen’s not around, I’m not around. I think it’s the same with him. If I’m not around, I have a feeling that he wants to be gone too. I wish there was some way legally that I could give him some of the money that he totally deserves as a player. He’s totally underpaid. For years, I was underpaid, but I played it out, and I think he’s going to play it out too. At the end of three years, I hope they reward him with a just and fair contract.

Michael Jordan’s Prediction of the 95-96 Season

Cheryl Raye-Stout : Finally, what is your belief right now in your heart about the outcome of this season?

Michael Jordan :  I think we’re going to win it all, as long as we all think together and we stay together and connect on the basketball court.

As soon as we disconnect, if we’re not connected when we walk out on the basketball floor, there’s going to be a lot of frustration. Especially for me, because I want to win so bad. I don’t really have to be here. I made the move away, then I came back because I felt we could still win. I still wanted to play the game of basketball. I just want everyone to have those same motivational feelings.
You don’t get to play this game that long, and if you don’t give it 110 percent, and if you get wrapped up into making all that money, when the money’s gone, the memories, you can’t bring them back. The championships: You will remember those forever and ever, even if you don’t have a dollar in your wallet.