Here is a classic story about Michael Jordan, which was told by Chris Webber. It happened in ‘ 97, when the forward played for the Bullets.
“Once we played in Washington. We played a 5-match series against the Bulls (in fact, a 3-match series-ed.). It was in the season when they reached 72 wins (in fact, 69-it was in the season-97). We lost in three matches with a total difference of 7 points (in fact, 18-ed.).
And then I saw Michael Jordan come into our locker room with a lit cigar and say, ” Who’s holding me today?”. And we all looked at Calbert Cheney and started laughing like juniors – Cheney was going to hold him, and we knew that it wasn’t serious for Mike at all. We knew that he would come out and everything would be exactly as he said.
Before the third game, we get off the bus and see Jordan and Pippen sitting in a Ferrari and smoking cigars. They know that we have to get off the bus and walk past them. And you’re still talking about showing off? Forget about Phil Jackson. Here you have Michael Jordan-sitting, smoking a cigar right before the match, showing us that he is Red Auerbach. And all this before the game starts. It all looked like this: “I’m smoking a cigar. I’ve already started celebrating. Everything else is just a formality, you can not go out on the floor.”
The relish of this story, of course, is still the same – in Jordan’s obsession with the competition and the desire to turn even an unnecessary first-round series into an adventure.
But one more detail is too striking, right? One seems to be small, but such a bright detail.
Since the beginning of the 90s, Jordan began to indulge in cigars and this hobby sometimes cost quite expensive.
He himself spoke in detail about his passion in two interviews with the magazine Cigar Aficionado. Actually, Jordan essentially stopped communicating with journalists after the nightmare that was arranged for him in 93, but he could not refuse this particular publication. Since he reads it himself and appreciates people who share his love for cigars.
“I smoked my first cigar in’ 91, when we became champions for the first time. I’ve never smoked before, no cigars, nothing. We became champions, and Jerry Reinsdorf gave me one of his cigars. So I got hooked on cigars.
Then I was treated to a cigar by my good friend Ahmad Rashad. He was sent Churchill cigars from Las Vegas, which are soaked in rum. I didn’t smoke them, I just sat and held them in my mouth. At some point, I realized that this is very relaxing.
Then this is what happened. The home games in Chicago were held at 18.00, and there were such terrible traffic jams on the roads that it took us an hour and 15 minutes or an hour and 30 minutes to get there. And here I am sitting in the car for an hour and a half, all on nerves. Traffic jams are wildly annoying. So I started smoking cigars on the way to the matches. It was in ‘ 93 and gradually turned into a tradition before every home match. Very few people knew about it. But it’s like this: before every home match, I smoked a Hoya de Monterrey Double Corona cigar. There is nothing more relaxing than that.”
As can be seen from “The Last Dance”, the cigar has become a constant companion of Jordan in the main moments of his sports life.
Not only when winning trophies. She was with him at the moment when Jordan “officially” became the greatest player of all time.
Before the Olympics in Barcelona, the Dream Team held a legendary training session, where Jordan’s team got the better of Magic Johnson’s team.
“Our team led by 10-12 points,” Magic said. – And for some reason I needed him to show his best level. So I said to myself: “I’ll go and rub it a little now, let’s see what happens.” And exactly then there was a transfer of the baton. I tell him: “Listen, MJ, if you don’t turn into an Air Jordan now, then we’ll take you guys out.” I’ve never seen anyone so angry: he took and single-handedly finished the two-sided. It was amazing: he came out and just dominated, played one of his best games. And that’s when the baton passed to him from me and Larry.
Then we go to the hotel. And the NBA has arranged such a recreation area for players. Michael is there, smoking a cigar. Larry and I are there too, drinking soda. And he comes up to us and says. “Guys,” he says. He puts one hand on my shoulder and the other on Larry’s shoulder. And he continues: “Guys, there’s a new sheriff in town now.” And we’re like, ” Damn, what do we have to answer to this?” And we said, ” You know what? Yes, you’re right, now it’s your league.”
Michael Jordan’s best friend – who is he?
According to research, the harm from cigars is no less than the harm from cigarettes. One cigar contains from 100 to 200 milligrams of nicotine, whereas a cigarette contains 10 milligrams of nicotine. And even despite the fact that cigar smoke is not inhaled, cigars provoke cancer no less often: they contain more resins and more substances that lead to cancer.
As a result, Jordan’s career suffered from a love of cigars, but not quite as much as one might think.
As Jordan stated in “The Last Dance”, he wanted to continue playing for Chicago after winning in ‘ 98, but did not get such an opportunity.
At the same time, for the second time, he ended his career at the wrong moment when he put the winning shot through Brian Russell and saw John Stockton miss. Officially, this happened in January ‘ 99. In the summer of ‘ 98, the league closed for a lockout, and the war between players and owners lasted so long that the season started only in January of the following year. It was then that Jordan called a press conference and announced that he would need surgery on his finger, which would cause him to miss two months. A year later, he admitted that he was injured when he cut off a cigar during a vacation in the Bahamas.
Chicago owner Jerry Reinsdorf said that the consequences were felt even when Jordan returned to play for Washington in 2002 and 2003. Jordan could not wrap one hand around the ball as before, and it was difficult for him to take it in his hands after driving.
So the Bulls breathed in with a calm soul when Jordan decided to end his career, rather than recover.
“He could have just received money and been treated, not to go on the court at all in that shortened season,” Jerry Krause recalled in 2017. “But Michael is Michael. If he signs a contract, he gives out 1000 percent and does not deceive you. He could have seriously harmed the club, but he did not do it.”
The love of cigars more and more compensated for the absence of basketball in life. In 2017, in another interview with Cigar Aficionado, Jordan admitted that he smokes six cigars a day. Moreover, and this is an important touch, he prefers huge cigars (they usually take about an hour).
The important scenes of “The Last Dance”, where Jordan appears without a cigar, also have an interesting explanation. All these are scenes that were filmed in the last few years – memories of his career, reviews of rivals, watching their pathetic excuses on the iPad. And so Jordan sits without a lit cigar in the frame for three hours of interviews.
Why is that?
The fact is that the “Last Dance” was being prepared just when the Cigar Aficionado interview was released: the mention of six cigars was among the main news of the day and caused general concern about the state of Jordan’s health. After the series was released, director Jason Hehir explained everything: “He couldn’t smoke a cigar during the shooting because he was afraid of upsetting his mother. He said: “I will shoot without a cigar, otherwise my mother will see that I smoke and get angry.”