During an interview with Robin Roberts of Good Morning America, Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan spoke about a part of his docuseries, The Last Dance, in which he risked a career-threatening re-injury upon returning to play.
The Bulls star broke his foot in the third game of his second season, causing him to miss 64 games. He went on to return for the final 15 games of that season, but it was no easy decision, as the series describes:
“Michael asked, if I play again, what percentage is it that I’m gonna get hurt again? Doctor said: 10%,” said Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf in the docuseries.
“And I just lost it,” said Michael Jordan. “There’s a 10% chance, but there’s a 90% chance that I won’t.”
“Then I asked the doctor: ‘What happens if the 10% kicks in?,” asked Reinsdorf. “He said, ‘then his career will be over.'”
The Bulls owner once asked Michael Jordan in regards to the risk of playing with an injury, “If you had a terrible headache and I gave you a bottle of pills and 9 of the pills would cure you and 1 of the pills would kill you — would you take a pill?”
His answer is 😂😂😂 pic.twitter.com/XQkXq4qfZH
— Good Morning America (@GMA) April 16, 2020
Michael Jordan chose to look at this 90-10 ratio as a glass-half-full scenario, rather than looking at the small chance that it might end his career.
While most NBA players would choose to err in the side of caution, Jordan was simply glad to have a 90% chance to play as usual. Now this wasn’t the Jordan that picked apart teams from all areas of the court. This was a rim-wrecking, sky-defying, contact-seeking Bulls superstar at the time, which would highly elevate chances of re-injury.
Reinsdorf had seen Jordan capture the Rookie of the Year award in his first season (1984-85) and had to ensure his most valuable asset was cognizant of the potential damage to his career:
“I said to Michael, you’re not understanding the risk-reward ratio,” said Reinsdorf. “If you had a terrible headache and I gave you a bottle of pills and nine of the pills would cure you and one of the pills would kill you — would you take a pill?”
Jordan’s response was priceless:
“I looked at him and said: Depends on how f***ing bad the headache is.”