Not many players dare to say those words. You better be very confident or have a caveat to that statement. This time, James Worthy had a caveat. “I was better than Michael Jordan,” he said, and then added, “for about three weeks!”
Worthy is a UNC alum, played there from ’79 till ’82. He was a starter for his college team when a Network, Worthy took us down memory lane and told the story of a young, raw MJ and his UNC beginnings.
I remember recruiting Michael Jordan. I remember him coming in on the weekend. I was down in my room at the end of the hall, and the elevator doors opened up, and all I could hear was this big mouth. That was Michael Jordan, and he was like “Yeah, this is gonna be my hall, I’m taking over this dorm.” And I was like, he’s still in high school, still in high school, who is this guy?!? I never thought he was arrogant, but he was full of confidence.James Worthy, ACC Digital Network
This bit doesn’t come as a surprise. Jordan has always been like that. His confidence bordering on arrogance didn’t come overnight. It was a character trait that’s always been in him. And he didn’t care who was on the other side of the hall. Even if it was his future teammate – MJ simply didn’t care.
Worthy at the time was already an established college player, ready to make a jump into the NBA. He got drafted number one after one year of playing with Jordan. Keep that in mind. He was basically the best college basketball had to offer. And even his jaw dropped the first time he witnessed His Airness.
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“I was better than Michael Jordan….for about three weeks. The first three weeks of practice, and I saw some things in him that I…I mean, he dunked one time on Sam Perkinson, and I still don’t know how he did it. I saw him in the raw. Most of us were kind of in the raw when we came to coach Smith, and he either slowed you down or he either enhanced your game through his theory. Michael was an incredible freshman. You know, one of the rare moments he was able to start. Phil Ford, myself and Michael, I think, was the third freshman ever to start. “ #jamesworthy #michaeljordan #unc #ncaabasketball #tarheels
Worthy, an NBA great in his own right, a three-time champion with the Lakers, a Finals MVP award, and 7 All-Star appearances, is not easily impressed. He continued to tell a story that was told many times about MJ. He was a freak of nature, exceptionally physically gifted, and skilled in all aspects of the game. What separates Jordan from the rest of the greats is his maniacal competitive drive.
“He was a competitor, Michael didn’t like to lose at anything. He could play a game of backgammon, a game of cards, and he would be emotionally upset if he lost. I knew he was gonna be an All-Star, but I didn’t know he was gonna be possibly the greatest player to ever play.”James Worthy, ACC Digital Network
Well, for three weeks in the early 80s, Worthy can say he was better than Michael. That’s still three weeks than most of us.