• The Last Dance: The Truth About Michael Jordan's Most Controversial Phrase

“One day during training, Phil [Jackson] decided to pair me with Steve Kerr. Phil knew that I was aggressive and to stop me he always protected my defender when there were contacts. I was going crazy: 'How are you going to protect this guy when we face New York?' So I made up my mind to fuck Steve, I went after him. The truth is that I did a very dirty foul. But he reacted, came after me and hit me in the chest. And I returned it with all my strength ». In the documentary The Last Dance, the phenomenon of the season of Netflix, Michael Jordan narrates with those words his punch to Steve Kerr, a teammate in the Bulls in 1995, the year of his first return to the NBA, and, at the same time, admits the accusations that surrounded him since the publication of the book The Jordan Rules in 1992. He ignored the rest of the team. He insulted those who were wrong. And on more than one occasion - it not only happened with Kerr, also with Will Perdue - he even attacked. But, in addition to being the best basketball player ever, he went down in history as an extraordinary leader, the man who guided a team from the continuous defeat to the celebration of six NBA titles in eight years.

Somehow, an example. So the question is compelled: Are there such attitudes in teams today? According to psychologists and coaching experts not only are there, they are also necessary.

«For me Jordan, more after seeing The Last Dance, is a historical benchmark in terms of leadership. He was a leader who tugged at his companions. He demanded of them as he demanded of himself. Steve Kerr himself admits it: that made him a better player, he offered his best version next to Jordan. There are certain acts that are taken out of context, but you have to frame them in the competition, "responds Joseba del Carmen , who played for Baskonia and now helps Espanyol as a coach and athletes like Jon Rahm or Maverick Viñales.

Another type of leader

"In the elite, when the teams are superchamps, and I have experienced that, the responsibility for winning is borne by the players, the coach is not needed. If someone makes a mistake, the team, especially the captain or the leader, will attack them because there are times when you have to send. It may seem exaggerated, but Jordan only reminds the rest of his responsibility . He introduces in training the requirement that will later be lived in games and that, without penalties of that type, is very difficult to do. It teaches others how they will feel when they fail in the middle of the competition and how they must respond, "adds Xesco Espar, former Barcelona player of the most successful handball team, and advisor to teams such as Girona, Leganés and Tottenham, in addition to Carolina Marín.

“The theory speaks of a type of democratic and dialogue leader, but in practice there are many types of leaders and there are many cases like Jordan's. He is a type of leader that works. High performance if peers, those who are being led, are aware of what they are for, accept the how. There may be those who get off the train, those who decide to leave the team, but the rest help them, "says Jesús Portillo , professor of sports psychology at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) and psychologist of teams such as the Spanish field hockey team. .

For all those consulted, Jordan's excesses are justifiable in the face of the pressure suffered by a team that seeks the NBA title, but they must have two counterpoints: on the one hand, a coach who knows how to manage and handle them as skillfully as Phil Jackson and On the other, the leader's own actions. If he performs as Michael Jordan did, everything can work; if you don't, the risk is high.

"The coach ahead"

"Such a leader is always on a scale. You have to value it and act if it takes more than it gives . In the most extreme cases, the hierarchies in the locker room would have to be changed and the coach should be given more strength. I have experienced situations like this and removing the player is usually effective. The group feels supported: they see that although the player in question is important, the coach puts the group ahead, "explains Portillo.

“It is that in such cases credibility is crucial. The demanding leader must be the first to give the level, to be above the rest. If not, the coach must intervene. Recall that Jordan acted under the guidance of Phil Jackson, who won six rings with the Bulls , went to the Los Angeles Lakers, and won another five rings. Its importance in all this was high », argues Xesco Espar.

Such leadership can create conflict in a team, but the coach can mediate and must have tools to do so. Phil Jackson was a benchmark in that regard. It left room for whoever needed it, as explained with the Rodman case , and claimed when it was due. Only with a coach like him, capable of modulating the team, it is understood that there would be a leader on the track as strong as Jordan was, "concludes Joseba del Carmen.

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