Ahead of the the broadcast of ESPN's highly anticipated Michael Jordan doc The Last Dance on April 19, the NBA legend has revealed that the 10-part series definitely doesn't sugarcoat his ultra-competitive antics.
"When people see this footage I'm not sure they're going to be able to understand why I was so intense, why I did the things I did, why I acted the way I acted, and why I said the things I said," Jordan said, via director Jason Hehir in an interview with The Athletic.
Another raw scene shows Jordan having a particularly intense interaction with his former Chicago Bulls teammate Scott Burrell.
"When you see the footage of [me riding with Scott Burrell], you're going to think that I'm a horrible guy. But you have to realize that the reason why I was treating him like that is because I needed him to be tough in the playoffs and we're facing the Indiana's and Miami's and New York's in the Eastern Conference.
"He needed to be tough and I needed to know that I could count on him. And those are the kind of things where people see me acting the way I acted in practice, they're not going to understand it."
Jordan adds that part of the reason for his behavior is that he took it upon himself to step in when teammates didn't perform.
"Look, winning has a price," Jordan said in the documentary. "And leadership has a price. So I pulled people along when they didn't want to be pulled. I challenged people when they didn't want to be challenged. And I earned that right because my teammates who came after me didn't endure all the things that I endured.
"Once you joined the team, you lived at a certain standard that I played the game. And I wasn't going to take any less. Now, if that means I had to go in there and get in your ass a little bit, then I did that. You ask all my teammates. The one thing about Michael Jordan was he never asked me to do something that he didn't fucking do."
Even he sometimes behaved as a "tyrant," Jordan admits that his unrelenting desire to win is just part of who he is.
"When people see this they are going say, 'Well he wasn't really a nice guy. He may have been a tyrant.' Well, that's you. Because you never won anything. I wanted to win, but I wanted them to win to be a part of that as well. Look, I don't have to do this. I am only doing it because it is who I am. That's how I played the game. That was my mentality. If you don't want to play that way, don't play that way."
With six-championships and six Finals MVP Awards, as well as a widely uncontested albeit unofficial GOAT title, it's tough to argue that there was anything wrong about how Jordan played, harsh as he may have come across at times.
Decide for yourself when the first episode of The Last Dance premieres on April 19 at 9 p.m. ET.