The time Michael Jordan’s Bulls teammates doubled up as his security
Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan had a larger-than-life persona and therefore an entourage — before the term (or the TV show) became widely used by today’s standards. ESPN’s docuseries “The Last Dance” gives viewers a glimpse of what a day in the life of Jordan was like, but there were many times when cameras weren’t there that his teammates can vouch for.
Take for example the night after the Bulls left an empty movie theater, as the Bulls decided to catch the popular movie “Casino” at 5 p.m. after the team’s Thanksgiving feast on Nov. 23, 1995.
The movie theater was empty when the Bulls showed up to watch the movie, but the crowd started to grow by the time they were leaving the theater. As it turned out, the main attraction wasn’t Robert DeNiro or Joe Pesci or Sharon Stone — all stars in the film — but rather Jordan walking out of the theater, forcing his teammates into a supporting role off the court:
“Everybody that was in the theater in line walked back to the hotel with us,” former Bulls center Bill Wennington told ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk. “And Luc [Longley], myself and Toni [Kukoc] ended up being security to keep people away from Michael, Scottie and Dennis. It was crazy.
“Michael had his [security] guys there, but there was that many people,” he added of the need for his Bulls teammates to double as bodyguards. “We are talking a thousand people left the theater and followed us. In Utah.”
People flocked to Jordan everywhere he went. That was perhaps the worst part of hanging out with the larger-than-life megastar during his days with the Bulls. The frenzy that ensued from crowds often forced role players like Longley, Kukoc, and Wennington to play this additional role as security guards. The Bulls also often used pseudonyms on the road to deal with this.
This was a matter of self-preservation, as the Bulls wouldn’t have been able to get back to their hotel without keeping Jordan away from the crowd.