7 NBA players who had firsthand experience of Michael Jordan's insane competitiveness

May 12, 2020
PHOTO: Courtesy of NBA

The latest episodes of The Last Dance expounded on Michael Jordan the son and baseball player. More importantly, though, it also explored the persona that defined his legendary NBA career: Jordan the competitor.

The man touted as the greatest basketball player of all time was so cutthroat that both opposing players and his own teammates in the Chicago Bulls were afraid of him.

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As Jordan explained, "I wanted them to understand what it felt like to be in the trenches. And if you don't understand, then you're not gonna respond when the war starts."

MJ didn't spare anyone; Steve Kerr can attest to that. In a 2012 interview on The Dan Patrick Show, the former Bulls guard spoke on His Airness punching him on the face during practice.

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"It was one of the best things that ever happened for me," remembered Kerr. "I needed to stand up and go back at him. I think I earned some respect. But, we have a great relationship ever since... You got to prove it, and then once you prove it, you're fine."

The next players on this list — from ex-teammates to fellow stars — weren't as lucky as Kerr:

Rodney McCray (Chicago Bulls)

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Another former teammate of Jordan via Sports Illustrated: "'He's the most viciously competitive player I've ever seen. That's what makes him, I think, the greatest player ever. He has practically ruined [reserve forward] Rodney McCray for us.'

When the two players were on opposite teams in scrimmages, the source said, '[Jordan] is in Rodney's face, screaming, 'You're a loser! You've always been a loser!' Rodney can hardly put up a jumper now.'"

Will Perdue (Chicago Bulls)

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The 7'1" center talked to CBS about also being a recipient of MJ's blows in one of their training sessions.

"He did, and I wasn't the only one," narrated Perdue. "That's how competitive our practices were. That wasn't the only fight, that was one of numerous. But because it involved Michael Jordan, and it leaked out, that it became a big deal.

"And the funny thing was, in that practice that it happened, we basically separated, regrouped and kept practicing — it wasn't like that was the end of practice. Stuff like that was common, because that's how competitive our practices were."

Craig Ehlo (Cleveland Cavaliers)

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The shooting guard on the wrong end of "The Shot" shared a savage anecdote about MJ's career game (69 points) to Deadspin: "We were running up the court side-by-side and he told me, 'Listen man, I'm hitting everything, so I'm gonna tell you what I'm gonna do this time and see if you can stop it. You know you can't stop it. You know you can't stop this. You can't guard me.'

"'I'm going to catch it on the left elbow, and then I'm going to drive to the left to the baseline, and then I'm going to pull up and shoot my fadeaway.' And sure enough..."


Shaquille O'Neal (Orlando Magic)

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The four-time champion when asked on The Dan Patrick Show if Jordan ever talked trash to him:

Shaq's reply? "He told me what he was going to do to Nick Anderson. He was like, 'I'm coming down. I'm going to dribble it between my legs twice. I'm going to pump fake, and then I'm going to shoot a jumper. And then I'm going to look at you.' And that's exactly what he did."

Reggie Miller (Indiana Pacers)

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The Hall of Famer recalled making the mistake of talking smack to MJ as a rookie on Jimmy Kimmel Live!: "'There's a new kid in town.' He kind of looks at me and starts shaking his head. So, at the half, I have 10, and he has four points. I'm doing all this talking.

"In the second half, he ended up with 44, and I ended up with 12. He outscored me, 40 to two. And as he's walking off, (he told me) 'Be sure, and be careful, you never talk to Black Jesus like that.'"

Magic Johnson (Los Angeles Lakers)

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On Jimmy Kimmel Live!, the NBA legend related what Jordan did after he taunted the latter during a Dream Team scrimmage.

"He came down on the right side, took off," Johnson began. "David Robinson took off. And [Jordan] said, 'Okay, I'm going to sit here in the air because I know David Robinson is going to go down.' So David Robinson went to the ground, [Jordan] 360'd, tongue moving, and dunked it — 360 in a practice game!"

Muggsy Bogues (Charlotte Hornets)

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Arguably the most popular story about how competitive Jordan was involved the shortest player ever to play in the league (via Deadspin): "On the biggest possession of the game, Mugsy had the ball with the Hornets down one. Jordan backed off of him and told him, 'Shoot it you f*cking midget.' Mugsy shot it, didn't come close. A year later Mugsy actually told Johnny Bach that he believes that single play ruined his career. His shot never recovered."

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PHOTO: Courtesy of NBA
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