Michael Jordan was uncompromising but a winner - it is to be admired


The Last Dance on Netflix is the best sporting documentary I have ever seen.

The 10-episode series charts the rise of Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls basketball team throughout the 1990s.

The insight and access it gives is extraordinary. You get to truly understand what made Jordan one of the greatest athletes of all time and the Bulls a once-in-a-generation sporting team.

Since the documentary’s release, some have said that Jordan hasn’t come out of it in a particularly good light, that he was a single-minded bully within the team who wasn’t much liked.

It has also raised questions whether this sort of mentality still exists within elite teams today, or if it was some sort of ‘old-school’ approach that has now been rightly erased.

Michael Jordan won six NBA championships with the Chicago Bulls

In my eyes, that is total nonsense. Jordan is revealed as an athlete with extraordinary physical abilities but with an even stronger mentality. His will-to-win was unparalleled.

Through utter dedication and determination, he dragged himself and his team to record-breaking victories. He helped lift every single team-mate to greater heights – the average became good, the good became excellent, and the excellent became potential Hall of Famers.

Jordan’s mental strength is why he reached sporting heights others can only ever dream of. Would that have made him awkward to be around? Would he have irritated team-mates with his constant berating? Damn right. But would they have respected him without limit? 100 per cent.

Phil Neville once described Roy Keane as his greatest ever captain, even if he terrified him at the same time. Keane also clashed with team-mates and the manager.

He continuously berated team-mates to do better in training, just as Jordan did. They were uncompromising, but they were winners.

Roy Keane was relentless (Image: PA)

It is no coincidence that Keane and Jordan led the teams they played for to global stardom.

Every successful elite team needs an environment with an edge to it. An edge were team-mates openly challenge each other to do better.

They will talk honestly to each other and won’t waste words to get to the truth of how they improve individually and collectively in the pursuit of victory. It will be uncomfortable at times but that isn’t bullying, that is an elite mentality. The best thrive in that environment.

We had it in our GB Women’s Hockey team that won Olympic Gold at Rio in 2016. We knew the standards we expected of each other and anything else wasn’t acceptable.

The Last Dance should be watched by every sports enthusiast to understand what makes a champion like Jordan tick.

I have enjoyed watching the Bundesliga since it resumed action in Germany.

One player who caught my eye was young Kai Havertz at Bayern Leverkusen. Many people expect reduced spending in the next transfer window because of the coronavirus, but Havertz looks special.

Despite times being tough, I expect all the big teams to be clamouring to get the midfielder’s signature this summer.