In a 15-man roster, there's always one or two guys who are deemed the toughest. So much so that they're usually the first guy in a scuffle — either they started it, or they're the ones preventing it from escalating.
Charles Oakley had this role when he was picked ninth overall in the 1985 NBA Draft by the Chicago Bulls — who by then already had an incoming sophomore named Michael Jordan. And we're talking about Jordan's early career, a primary foe comes to mind: the Detroit Pistons Bad Boys.
I'd fight all of them
Oak donned the Bulls jersey for only three years. In one of those seasons, the young MJ was nursing a broken foot and played just 18 games in the regular season. Oakley's third and final year in Chicago was the most eventful. In the 1987-88 NBA season, the Bulls recorded an impressive 50-32 record. They made it to the Eastern Conference Semifinals and faced none other than the Pistons — who were already known for their physical play.
Speaking with Stephen Jackson and Matt Barnes in the ALL THE SMOKE Podcast, Oakley spoke more on his role as MJ's protector. One would expect Oak to share colorful narratives on beating Bill Laimbeer to a bloody pulp. But according to Oak, the Pistons did not touch Jordan when he was around.
"He didn't take a beating when I was there. Detroit, y'all some punks. I don't care about them. Put them in a bag I'd fight all of them.
Stephen Jackson: "You got to reiterate that. Detroit started [hurting Jordan] after you left."
Doubters would say that Oak is exaggerating. But there's video proof of Oakley giving Laimbeer the business when he touched MJ.
Oakley also shared Jordan's weird diet early on. As one of the greatest athletes of all time, it would make sense to expect that MJ munched on the healthiest foods and was disciplined with what he put in his body. However, Oak shared that Jordan had a penchant for fast food every morning.
"Michael Jordan ate McDonald's every morning for breakfast. Every morning he ate McDonald's. And before a game, he ate a steak before a game," Oakley said.
Oak had one of the most exciting careers in the league. Diehards would do everything to get their hands on the latest pair of Jordan's, let alone meet His Airness himself. Oak wasn't only deemed the protector of the GOAT, but he also shared several breakfasts with him. Now that's what you call a legendary career.