Why Kendall Gill was ‘pissed’ when Michael Jordan first retired from basketball

Rob Schaefer
NBC Sports Chicago

For most, Michael Jordan's press conference announcing his first retirement evoked shock, sadness and even a bit of awe. How could the consensus greatest, most impactful athlete ever to bounce a basketball hang it up at the peak of his powers? Where would the Bulls turn? Holy crap, is that Tom Brokaw?

Kendall Gill's reaction, though, was one of anger.

"I can't say it on a podcast, but [my reaction] was ‘God [expletive],'" Gill said on the latest Habershow podcast, hosted by Tom Haberstroh and featuring Will Perdue and K.C. Johnson.

Some context: On Sep. 1, 1993 (roughly a month before Jordan's retirement announcement on Oct. 3), the Seattle SuperSonics executed a sign-and-trade for Gill, inking him to a seven-year, $26.6 million deal. At the time, the Associated Press quoted Gill saying, "I'm glad to have the opportunity to go to a contender… Seattle is a team that wins a lot of games, and their style of play matches a lot of what I like to do. I think this is a great opportunity for me."

Apparently, that belied his true feelings about the move.

"All due respect to the people of Seattle. Seattle's a wonderful city, the organization was great, the players there were great. I just really did not want to go to Seattle," Gill said on the Habershow podcast. "I really wanted to go back to Charlotte or go to another team back East.

"And when I signed that contract, it was only a couple weeks later that Michael retired. I was like, ‘Damn it,' I could have just fit right into playing for the Bulls and playing with Will (Perdue) and playing in the Triangle offense, cause they needed a two-guard at the time. So I was pissed actually."

Perdue agreed that Gill would have been a seamless fit on the Bulls at the time. 

"The one thing I've learned working with Kendall, he believed in the Triangle, and he would have fit right in. I mean, he would have been a Tex Winter protégé, him and Tex would have been watching film all the time, sitting together on the plane," Perdue said. "We know what Kendall's talent sets are so he would have fit in well."

But at the time, Perdue's mind was far from the trade machine. He said he was in "disbelief" hearing the news of Jordan's retirement made official - and seeing the dizzying media footprint at the presser- while following along on television. 

"They (teammates who were present) said it was a madhouse, that it was just out of control, and I just decided, you know what, it's live on television, I'm gonna sit right here. And I think I already know what the outcome is even though I don't really want to believe it," Perdue said. "But I also didn't want to have people see the dejection on my face when he made it official."

As for Gill, he played out two years of that deal in Seattle before being flipped back to Charlotte in the summer of 1995. He eventually landed with the Bulls for the 2003-04 season, but by then, the dynasty was long past crumbled.


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Why Kendall Gill was pissed when Michael Jordan first retired from basketball originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

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