The epic ESPN docuseries “The Last Dance,” has impacted not only Michael Jordan fans but all types of basketball fans as well. In fact, it even had an effect on some people from distant sports such as mixed martial arts (MMA).
The MJ effect
Indeed, you don’t really need to be a basketball player to be inspired by Jordan. Any athlete could understand the way MJ epitomized winning and competitiveness. And former UFC champion Khabib Nurmagomedov was one of them.
Like most of us, Khabib was enamored by Jordan in “The Last Dance.” However, the UFC legend admitted that he didn’t know much about MJ until after watching the documentary. And now, he wants to see the NBA icon in the flesh.
“I really want to meet Michael Jordan,” Khabib told Full Send podcast. “I just watch, I play basketball but not like Michael Jordan. …With Michael Jordan, I just watched a month ago, his documentary. Because I’m working on my documentary and it was very interesting. My friend advised me, ‘You have to watch this.’ Very impressive.”
“Before his documentary, I didn’t know about him much,” he added. “I just know Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player and that’s it. … It was very impressive for me to watch and I really want to meet this guy.”
Almost all hoopers are well aware they can’t play like Michael Jordan. Probably no one could. But when Khabib says he doesn’t play basketball like MJ, he means it… literally.
For those who don’t know, Khabib has been playing “Dagestani basketball” for years. The game also takes place on a basketball court, requires a rubber-made basketball, and could also be played five-on-five. However, there’s one major difference, Dagestani basketball, as Khabib said, has “no rules.”
“[There’s] only one rule- don’t hurt yourself,” Khabib said of Dagestani basketball.
As you can imagine, Dagestani basketball is played like rugby with a little bit of American football and wrestling, but in every possession, the team must shoot the basketball at all costs.
Even more interesting, Dagestani basketball is not a bizarre game in Russia. In fact, a wide array of Russian MMA fighters, including Khabib, play it as cross-training.
Regardless of what type of basketball he plays, Khabib serves as living proof that no matter what country you are from or what language you speak, we can all understand one another as we share the same love- the love for the game of basketball.