The long-awaited 10-part documentary series about Michael Jordan and the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls finally debuted on Sunday night to immediate praise. A film crew from the NBA was granted unprecedented access to the team, in large part because everyone knew that no matter what happened, that was going to be the last season for that historic group.
But according to former Bulls coach Tim Floyd, the breakup nearly happened even earlier. During an interview with ESPN 104.5 in Baton Rouge on Monday, Floyd -- who was hired as Bulls head coach after the 1997-98 season -- said he had a discussion with owner Jerry Reinsdorf about taking over for Phil Jackson after the 1995-96 season.
Floyd, however, says he told Reinsdorf it would be a bad idea, and that GM Jerry Krause should let the group die a "natural death" rather than starting a rebuild. As transcribed by ESPN:
"Anyhow, I told Jerry Reinsdorf that day," Floyd said on the radio show, "I don't think Jerry [Krause] understands that these guys are basically the Beatles. This is the most popular franchise of all time. I said, 'If I'm you, I would not do this. Not even the following year. Let it die a natural death because there are certain teams and players that you just don't break up. I think these guys have earned the right to let it die its own death.'"
"Jerry Reinsdorf asked me, 'Tim, would you tell Jerry Krause what you told me in downtown Seattle about next year?'" Floyd said. "I told Jerry Krause, and he said you don't understand, I can't do it. I don't want to work with Phil again. I said, 'Why don't you work downtown and let Phil work out of the other place [facility]?' Y'all just stay the hell away from each other because it's working."
Floyd's advice was sound, as the Bulls went on to win the title in both the 1996-97 and 1997-98 season. Unfortunately for him, it probably the best thing he ever did for Chicago.
By the time Floyd was hired, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman were all gone, and the rebuild did not go well. The Bulls never won more than 17 games while Floyd was in charge, going a combined 49-190 before he resigned early in his fourth season.
While it was well known that Krause, Jackson, Jordan and Pippen did not have a healthy working relationship over the last few seasons, Floyd's interview is another reminder of just how turbulent things were in Chicago -- even with the winning.