For decades, Michael Jordan’s leadership tactics have been a topic of controversy. As the Chicago Bulls established themselves as a dominant force in the Eastern Conference, MJ faced criticism, being labeled a ‘tyrant’ for his approach in coordinating with teammates. Nevertheless, during his 3rd NBA season, he took a different approach and used his $12,500 Slam Dunk Contest earnings to foster better chemistry with his teammates off the court by sharing the money with them.
Jordan’s signature style of play was aerial combat. The high-flying nature of his moves allowed him to live up to the ‘Air Jordan’ moniker placed on him by Nike. Naturally, given his abilities, it made sense that he participated in the Slam Dunk Contest, something he did thrice and won twice with some of the most iconic dunks across NBA history.
Michael Jordan split $12500 amongst his teammates
Michael Jordan was in the Slam Dunk Contest in his rookie season and lost to Dominique Wilkins in the Finals. He would participate in 1987 after being sidelined in 1986 due to a broken foot in hopes of being able to go up against the Hawks high-flyer.
Unfortunately for MJ and NBA fans alike, the Wilkins-Jordan rematch didn’t take place and instead Jerome Kersey took his spot and gave MJ a run for his money. However, the eventual 6x NBA champ stood out with one of his dunks being the iconic free throw line dunk.
MJ won the Slam Dunk Competition in 1987 and was given $12500 as a reward. Instead of keeping it all for himself, he gave the earnings to his teammates via split, with each teammate receiving $1000.
Michael has done quite a lot of nice things for his teammates over the years and this certainly was one of them. So regardless of the ‘tyrant’ accusations, it is heartwarming to see that ‘His Airness’ did in fact care for his team and tried his best to build off court chemistry with them.
Jordan made sure his Bulls starting lineup was in an ad with him
After the 1991 NBA Finals, Disney wanted to have an advertisement that continued to piggyback off the success of the ‘MJ vs MJ’ showdown that happened. Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson were recruited for the commercial as expected but what wasn’t expected was MJ’s demand.
MJ understood that winning against the ‘titan’ Lakers was a Herculean task that he didn’t accomplish alone. So, instead of pocketing $100,000 for himself to appear in the ad, he demanded that Disney get all 5 of his Bulls teammates in the ad and split the $100,000 evenly amongst the 5 teammates.