Ex-Bull Charles Oakley Details Link to Michael Jordan in Book – NBC Chicago

Ex-Bull Oakley Details Link to Michael Jordan in Book Originally Published on NBC Sports Chicago

It’s only fitting that Michael Jordan wrote the foreword to Charles Oakley’s book.

After all, Oakley was given the first — and last — word many times in his role as Jordan’s enforcer and protector in the rough years he played for the Chicago Bulls in the 1980s.

“I went in there and I brought my helmet and my lunch box,” Oakley said in a recent appearance on the Bulls Talk Podcast. “And I went to work.”

Acquired in a draft day trade in 1985 as one of the first personnel changes from then-general manager Jerry Krause, Oakley did it impressively enough to bond with Jordan forever.

Oakley’s book, “The Last Enforcer,” written with longtime New York and New Jersey journalist Frank Isola, details how Jordan expressed his displeasure when Krause traded Oakley to the Knicks for Bill Cartwright in 1988, ensured that his longtime running mate played for the Wizards during his final comeback, and how the two remain close today.

“Me and him, we just clicked,” Oakley said. “He took me to the All-Star game my rookie year and went on from there. We (were) always relaxing, always together. We just got tight.”

In those early days of the Bulls, when Jordan’s star was on the rise, they would drive together to home games at the old Chicago Stadium. They lived around the corner from each other in the suburbs. They would stop at McDonald’s for a pre-workout breakfast before heading to the Deerfield Multiplex. They played pool and ping pong constantly, often with Bears Hall of Famer Richard Dent as well.

Although Jordan missed most of Oakley’s rookie season with a broken bone in his foot, he made it back to the playoffs. His 63-point masterpiece against the Celtics still brings a smile to Oakley’s face.

“I got a lot of rebounds and rebounds,” Oakley said, laughing. “Boston was tough back then. They were a veteran team, they got all the calls. He showed the world what he was made of. No matter who was on the other team, they couldn’t stop him.”

Jordan, Dent and Oakley were together in the Mike Tyson-Leon Spinks heavyweight bout in Atlantic City in June 1988 when news broke that Oakley had been traded.

“Mike was upset. I told him, ‘Let’s just watch the fight and have a good night.’ And that’s what we did,” Oakley said. “I didn’t hold a grudge against Jerry (Krause), Jerry Reinsdorf, Michael, anyone. But Michael, it broke his heart. We had just joined, we got pretty close.

“But we remain friends to this day. And he won six championships and I won zero.”

In fact, Oakley moved to the Knicks, who apparently played Jordan’s Bulls every year in the playoffs. The intense rivalry featured several memorable moments – and tough misses – from a time when Oakley was a perfect fit.

“In the Eastern Conference, you had to get past the Bulls,” Oakley said. “It was like a wall that you keep trying to climb and you just can’t get over. And you get older and you know you can’t get over it.”

Oakley spent the 2002-03 season with Jordan with the Wizards, Jordan’s final season before his final retirement.

“The most important thing is that the people in town were so proud and happy that he was on the team,” said Oakley. “He trained every day, played every game. It wasn’t like he was just going back and playing half a season. He put his heart and soul into it.

“His skill level wasn’t there, but he competed every night. And we had a ball.”

Click here to follow the Bulls Talk Podcast.

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