MJ responds to Rose comparison

Updated: August 15, 2012, 12:17 AM ET
By Melissa Isaacson | ESPNChicago.com

CHICAGO -- Michael Jordan responded Monday to Chicago Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf comparing Derrick Rose's injury situation to the one Jordan experienced with the Bulls in 1985.

Jordan admitted his viewpoint has changed from the time he was a player to his current role as owner of the Charlotte Bobcats.

"I have a unique perspective," Jordan told ESPNChicago.com. "I've been a player, I've been in that scenario, and I would definitely consult with the player and I would never take his opinion, desire or feelings for granted.

"You have to factor that in."

Speaking Saturday on ESPN 1000's "Talkin' Baseball," Reinsdorf was asked about Rose, who had surgery May 12 to repair a torn ACL in his left knee and is expected to take eight to 12 months to recover.

"I'm not going to let him back until the doctors tell me that it's absolutely safe for him to come back," Reinsdorf said. "I made that mistake with Michael Jordan years ago where I think we let him come back too soon. It worked out OK, but it might not have.

"This time I'm not going to make that mistake. Until the doctors say he's 100 percent and they put their reputations on the line, he's not coming back."

Jordan's injury, a broken left foot, was less serious than a torn ACL. Sustained in the third game of the 1985-86 season, he ended up missing 64 games before coming back for the Bulls' final 15 regular-season contests. He led the Bulls in scoring in their final eight games and helped them reach the playoffs, where they lost to Boston in the first round in three straight. Jordan's 63 points in a double-overtime loss in Boston on April 20, 1986 remains an NBA record for most points in a playoff game.

Reinsdorf told ESPNChicago.com in 2011 that his motivation to keep Jordan sidelined was fear the injury could ultimately end his career.

"I was scared to death he was going to be hurt again, and that would be the last we would ever see of Michael Jordan," Reinsdorf said.

Jordan remembers it well and said he was annoyed with Reinsdorf and then-general manager Jerry Krause for not allowing him back as soon as he wanted, then limiting his participation.

"The thing was, at the time, we were going through a rebuilding process, and I was practicing two hours a day and that was the thing that bothered me more than anything," Jordan said. "If I can go through two-hour practices, as intense as I practice, then when the game came, they gave me a seven-minute window (in each half) to play.

"That's when I felt more frustrated than anything. I felt more than anything they were positioning themselves for the draft and I didn't feel good being part of that. I felt I was an all-out player who didn't half-ass anything, and they wanted to move up (in the draft). I was a player, I wanted to play."

The Bulls' team physician at the time, James Hefferon, cleared Jordan to play but he said two other doctors who examined Jordan at the behest of the team advised the player take it more conservatively.

"(Reinsdorf) obviously had a different perspective of things," Jordan said. "Being where I am now (as owner of the Bobcats), I understand it a little bit differently, but if a player wants to play and is doing all the necessary things ... It wasn't just me saying I was good enough to play. I went through the process. And Doc Hefferon, who I had the highest regard for, said I was OK."

In the end, Reinsdorf acquiesced in time for the playoffs. But for Jordan, even some 27 years later, it will never be soon enough.

"Granted, I know the business and you have to be somewhat conservative for the long-term, but you still have to take into consideration the player, how he responds to pain, what kind of guy he is," Jordan said. "That's the difference between Jerry and myself. I've been there, done that, experienced that. And if I know a player well enough, I'm going to understand where he's coming from."

Melissa Isaacson

Columnist, ESPNChicago.com
Melissa Isaacson is a columnist for espnW.com, ESPN Chicago and ESPN.com. The award-winning writer has covered Chicago sports for most of her 31-year career, including at the Chicago Tribune before joining ESPN in 2009. Isaacson has also covered tennis since 1986.

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