Fans knew Michael Jordan as a great basketball player on the court. But how was Jordan as a baseball player? Long-time fan turned peer LaTroy Hawkins shared a special moment when he met and went against the Chicago Bulls legend.
Who is LaTroy Hawkins?
LaTroy Hawkins was drafted in Round 7 of the 1991 Draft. He played for over two decades in the MLB and suited up for Milwaukee Brewers, Colorado Rockies, Los Angeles Angels, New York Yankees, and Minnesota Twins, among others.
Hawkins recorded a Wins Above Replacement (WAR) of 17.8 and 983 strikeouts in his career, which meant he was more than just your average pitcher. Even though he didn’t play in an All-Star game, LaTroy was someone widely respected in the field and considered Hall of Famer material.
Hawkins, a godfather to Kansas City Chiefs star Patrick Mahomes, had 800 innings and struck out 11.9 batters per nine innings since 1990, the only pitcher to do so. The arguments are there; unfortunately, his career was often overlooked. So who inspired LaTroy Hawkins growing up? It was a man who had made a name for himself in basketball and dabbled in baseball for a while: Michael Jordan.
LaTroy Hawkins met Michael Jordan
Hawkins guested on the Basketball News podcast hosted by Rex Chapman. Like any other players who shared MJ’s stories, the former Yankees pitcher’s experience was one-of-a-kind, mainly because it presented Mike in a different light.
LaTroy claimed he met MJ when his team was about to play against Jordan’s team. He tried to ask for an autograph, to which Mike initially refused. The two connected early because Hawkins grew up in Gary, Indiana. After learning this, the 6-time NBA champion claimed, “I’ve had some few chicks in Gary, Indiana.” So that was the start of what would turn out to be a lifelong friendship between a fan and a basketball superstar.
As expected, Jordan maintained that laser focus even outside basketball. LaTroy, beaming with confidence himself, believed he could score against MJ in a one-on-one game. Michael destroyed his confidence with just a few words: “You won’t (win) if I don’t let you.”
LaTroy Hawkins, who grew up near Chicago and wore MJ’s sneakers, met his idol and even got a chance to be friends with him. It shows that Michael Jordan’s impact transcended the basketball court and even inspired other generations of athletes in other disciplines.