Episode 7 of “The Last Dance” highlights Michael Jordan and his short-lived baseball career in the minor leagues after joining the Birmingham Barons, a Double-A affiliate of the Jerry Reinsdorf-owned Chicago White Sox. In the episode, the filmmakers reveal the harsh criticism he received, including a nasty Sports Illustrated opinion that made the front page with this headline: “Bag it, Michael.”

The popular magazine caught a lot of grief for it, and it thus soured the relationship between Jordan and the publication.

Jordan admitted as much in a “Last Dance” interview:

“Definitely,” he replies, just after the documentary notes that he severed communications with the magazine after that issue hit newsstands.

“I never was interviewed for that,” Michael Jordan said. “They came out to critique me, without understanding what my passion was at the time.

“If you had a question, ask. And then if you want to write it, then you write it. That’s fine, no problem, that’s your opinion. But I can care less what people do. This is what I want to do. I’m not doing what they think I should be doing.”

Sports Illustrated writer Steve Wulf, who wrote the story, admits Jordan was “rightly insulted” by the cover, according to ESPN Daily (via The Washington Post).

Wulf’s story was written as Jordan began spring training games with the Barons. He wrote that “baseball snobs … are right about one thing: He will never, ever hit.”

In hindsight, Wulf admits the tone was “a little snarky, and very skeptical,” and the cover, which he didn't have control of, was out of line:

“I still cringe every time I see it,” he claimed, adding, “I wish they had run the headline by me.”

Longtime publications like Sports Illustrated have always run by newspaper code, meaning the writer of the story, the headline editor, and the photography editor work separately, at times not even crossing to discuss matters — even if it makes the cover.

This lack of communication and poor grasp of perspective hurt the magazine in great ways, as Michael Jordan has snubbed them ever since.