Michael Jordan may have seemed like a teammate from hell ... but ex-Bulls player Scott Burrell says he welcomed MJ's tough antics ... telling TMZ Sports he LOVED the way #23 motivated him.
Previously unreleased footage of the '98 Bulls season aired on ESPN's "The Last Dance" doc Sunday ... showing Jordan cussing at, mocking and being extra hard on certain players during practice.
Burrell -- who was on the receiving end of a lot of Jordan's harsh actions -- says it wasn't as bad as it looked ... 'cause he WANTED His Airness to prep him to be a contributing player on a championship team.
"I think Michael had different techniques maybe some people didn't think were great leadership qualities," Burrell says. "I loved it! I loved the way he pushed me, I loved the way he motivated me."
Burrell says the antics worked off ... 'cause the Bulls were ready to take on each team's best shot every night, even when the opponents gave MJ all they had.
"People gotta understand, this is a team that won 5 championships in 7 years, and 2 in a row. People weren't saying 'I'm gonna play Steve Kerr or Toni Kukoc, every team that played Chicago was 'I wanna kick Michael Jordan's butt.'"
Burrell never took MJ's words to heart ... saying he knew Jordan was just trash talking and didn't really mean what he was saying.
Matter of fact, Burrell says he's still tight with MJ ... and they even hit the links together from time to time.
"I'm glad I learned from the best coaches and the best players and I like the friendship we built and the team camaraderie we have."
We also asked Burrell -- who also had a brief stint playing baseball in the minor leagues -- about Jordan's brief pro-hardball career ... and he gives the guy props for what he was able to do after so many years away from the diamond.
As for what would happen if Jordan stepped up to the plate with Burrell on the mound?? You'll have to hear what he says!!