On one side of the locker-room blackboard, Bobby Knight posted defensive guidelines for Team USA. On the other side, various offensive schemes were written. Stuck between was a yellow sheet of legal paper, with a message from an anonymous source.
Coach: Don’t worry. We’ve put up with too much s— to lose now.Bobby Knight, Knight: My Story
This was right before the 1984 Olympics finals game, which would end Team USA’s eight-year-long drought of not playing for the gold. The pressure was on for the Bobby Knight hand-picked group to deliver, and playing in front of their home crowd in LA only added to it. There was a lot of tension in that locker room, and whoever wrote that note did a great job of erasing it.
I still have the paper. And I don’t have any doubt about its author. By then, I knew what Michael Jordan’s handwriting looked like. I looked at that note, and everybody was watching. Michael had his head down, but he couldn’t resist looking to see what I was going to do. All I said was, ‘Okay, let’s go play.’Bobby Knight, Knight: My Story
By half-time, Team USA was up 52-29, steaming towards once again reclaiming the title of being an Olympic gold medalist. What was a nervous collective before the tip-off, needed no motivation at the half. Michael Jordan was once again the man behind it, as his first-half excellence left Knight struggling to serve as a head coach. But Knight being Knight, he went out of his way to find a flaw in what was a perfect first-half outing by No.9.
Mike, when the hell are you going to set a screen? All you’re doing is rebounding, passing, and scoring. Dammit, screen somebody out here!Bobby Knight, Late Show with David Letterman
‘Coach, didn’t I just read last week where you said I may be the quickest player you’ve ever been around?’ MJ asked.’What the hell has that got to do with you screening?’ Knight replied.’Coach, I think I set ’em quicker than you can see ’em.’
Team USA went on to win the gold medal, as they beat Spain 96-65, behind Jordan’s 20-point performance. Thus ended one of the craziest Team USA runs ever, intertwined with Charles Barkley not making the team, Bobby Knight making MJ cry, capped off with an anonymous message by MJ that steered the 12-man group towards the gold. It doesn’t get any better than that.