"A lot of bloodbaths in practice..."
A new batch of six interviews are coming to the newsletter: two Bulls players, one reporter, one photographer, one ball boy, and one secret to be revealed.
“Here are two of the greatest players of all time, and in my opinion Michael is the greatest of all time. So when they got it going, it was absolutely amazing. Practices sometimes were harder than the games. You really see the physicality come out in practice because you can get away with it. So there were a lot of bloodbaths in practice from everybody, especially Michael.
“To see a guy like that at that level going so hard, it was an amazing experience. And Scottie’s not as demonstrative as Michael, but such a talent, and he practiced every bit as hard as Michael did.”
— Excerpt from my new interview with Matt Steigenga, player on the ‘97 Bulls from April through the championship
Hi everybody! I want to thank everyone who has subscribed for the free newsletter, and especially everyone who has purchased a subscription. If you’re getting the free newsletter and you’re thinking about making the jump to the paid version, now is the time, as I’ve started to stack up new interviews that I will be publishing in the coming weeks, starting tomorrow.
Four interviews are finished:
Matt Steigenga, surprise member of the ‘97 championship team. This story is coming tomorrow, and you can re-live part of his story here.
Will Perdue, three-time champion with the Bulls (plus one with the ‘99 Spurs), who interviewed me about my “I’m Back” story for NBC Sports Chicago last week. The interview lasted 90 minutes, and NBC aired 30 minutes. I’ll be delivering the other hour.
Cheryl Raye-Stout, masterful longtime Bulls reporter whose conversational style and bond with Jordan helped her break two enormous stories: MJ’s intention to play baseball, and MJ’s return to the Bulls in ‘95.
A secret interview that I can’t announce yet, but it’s finished, and you’ll want to read it.
Another two interviews are in the works this week:
Chris Mott, ball boy for the ‘96 Bulls
Scott Strazzante, long-time Tribune photographer, who will be talking about some of his favorite Bulls photos, including this one:
You can subscribe now for $5 a month or $33 a year — or as I like to say, Paxson a month and Pippen a year. That annual fee is nearly half off the monthly. As I explained in the newsletter introduction, I wanted to price this newsletter at $3 a month and $33 a year, which would be a $3 discount off the monthly-annual rate.
But Substack has a minimum of $5 a month, so I did that but kept the annual at $33.
Here’s a look at what paid subscribers have gotten:
A day-by-day look at the schedules of David Stern and Michael Jordan in the summer and early fall of 1993, to see if they were ever in the same city at the same, whereby a hypothetical gambling suspension could be delivered in person
A previously unpublished interview from 2013 with the now late photographer Marc Hauser, whose work includes a multitude of national ads with MJ, the MJ-Payton-Dawson tuxedo poster, and the Dennis Rodman billboard over I-94
Two early excerpts from my NBC “I’m Back” piece — the time Scottie Pippen invented and leaked his own trade rumor, and how rumors of MJ’s comeback in ‘95 raised stock value for five companies he endorsed by a combined $2.6 billion
A look back on the bench-led comeback in Game 6 of the 1992 NBA Finals
I’ve included an excerpt from Cheryl Raye-Stout’s interview — a Jordan story — at the end of this post. Subscribe now, or buy it for a friend or relative as a gift! Several adults have bought children or nieces/nephews a subscription to begin their 90s Bulls education.
My recent radio / podcast appearances:
In other news, be sure to check out some of my recent interviews around the “I’m Back” piece and the book:
ESPN 1000, with hosts Chris Bleck and Adam Abdalla (start at 25:03)
NBC Sports Chicago, with host Will Perdue and producer Tony Gill
Cash Considerations, with hosts Ricky O’Donnell and Jason Patt
There were also recent spots on 670 The Score, and on WGN with Mark Carman. I will send links in a subsequent newsletter.
And let me just reiterate how cool it was to have a member of the 90s Bulls interview ME, instead of the opposite. It was actually a back and forth conversation, with him interviewing me and me interviewing him. He read the entire piece and came with tons of questions — it was the best interview about writing I’ve ever had.
I hope everyone is doing well and staying healthy. Be well!
Excerpt from my forthcoming interview with Cheryl Raye-Stout, coming soon:
Jack: I get the sense that a trait that was toward the top of Michael Jordan’s list of criteria for how he interacted with someone and what he valued in a person was trust. He has spoken about it a lot. … My impression is that a crucial piece of the bond you two held was trust. Am I reading that correctly?
How did you establish that?
I would take the time before games, and I would also go to practices. They would have night practices during training camp. And I would go to those, because that was a time you could have one-on-one conversations with him. We would talk about all sorts of things. That’s how I was able to talk to him about baseball. I don’t know what I did differently — I just think it was because I was different. And I was a female, and he recognized that too.
One day he was in the Bears locker room, and he saw how I had to work, and he said to me, “I never realized how physically how hard it is, what you have to do, in the scrum. But I now have a better appreciation for what you do.” He was very observant of what I did. And we just hit it off. Also, I’m not a liar. And I think there are a lot of liars in this business. And I can’t. If someone lies to me, they’re dead to me.
He’s said the same thing about that — not liking lying.
Yeah. When I would write stories about him and he would hear what I did, I would say, “What do you think?” And he would say, “No you’re fine. I’m fine with it.” (I would say), “If I’m doing anything wrong, tell me, because I want to make sure I have the truth.” And he was always fine with that.