Roland Lazenby Rumors
Roland Lazenby: But I held no delusion that I would be interviewed for this docu-series 22 years later or that any of the original interview footage with me would actually make the show. Yet it was also obvious that my work (along with the fine work of so many people covering the Bulls back then) had heavily influenced the production. That’s why it has been so nice and generous for Jason Hehir, the director, to take the time to publicly acknowledge my work. That can’t have pleased MJ. But the great success of Hehir’s work, beyond all of the narrative story-telling, has been his effort to encourage Jordan and his people toward a frank telling of his own story. After all, let’s be clear. This is MJ’s life, his story. It is he who has made all of this possible.
Roland Lazenby: One person who is not a fan of it is Michael himself. He has been cordial enough in and around it. When I decided to do the project, I went to him immediately and told him about it. He spoke briefly to me but I could sense that he was leery. When the book came out, the PR staff of his Charlotte Hornets treated me extremely well. In fact, I’ve always been kind of a secondary, almost unimportant, figure working around NBA teams, often occupying remote press seats (but having the same interview access as other representatives of large media corporations). So I was taken aback after the book came out when the Hornets PR staff assigned me preferred seating at a home game and afterward Jordan awkwardly shook my hand. Since then, however, Jordan’s top assistant has made it clear just how displeased MJ was with me.
Roland Lazenby: Jason Hehir, the director of the Last Dance doc-series on ESPN, messaged me on twitter yesterday and said this of “Michael Jordan, The Life”: “Your bio was one of my bibles these past few years. Great work, and thanks so much.” Nice guy.
Roland Lazenby: In an interview with Hoopshype, Sam Smith accused me of engaging in conspiracy theories related to his anonymous sources in his book, The Jordan Rules. Nothing could be further from the truth. My reporting about the firing of Bulls assistant coach Johnny Bach in 1994 was based on on-the-record interviews with a variety of Bulls team figures and even Smith himself. As I was writing my book “Blood On The Horns” about the “Last Dance” season in 1997–98, Phil Jackson told me in recorded, on-the-record interviews several harsh, sometimes gross things, about Bulls executive Jerry Krause, Jackson’s boss.
Roland Lazenby: Both men were furious at Jackson’s comments and made on the record comments about Phil Jackson’s deceit in regard to the beloved Johnny Bach, who was fired by Jackson for allegedly providing Sam Smith with the bulk of the inside information about the team for The Jordan Rules. Both men said they agreed to allow Jackson to fire Bach only because Jackson persuaded them to do it by telling them Bach was a major anonymous voice in The Jordan Rules.
Roland Lazenby: In addition, I did an interview with Krause in which he told of his tearful apology to Bach sometime later after the assistant coach was working for another team. I then contacted Bach, and the former Bulls assistant confirmed these events and the details in a subsequent on-the-record interview about the matter. The shock of being fired had led to Bach having a heart attack and going through a very rough period in his life, he told me.