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Dan Dakich — the man who spoiled Michael Jordan's final college game

Dan Dakich narrates how he stopped Michael Jordan's vaunted fadeaway jump shot.
North Carolina Tar Heels guard Michael Jordan vs. Indiana Hoosiers guard Dan Dakich

Michael Jordan and Dan Dakich

Highlight reels show Michael Jordan knocking down the game-winning shot to lead North Carolina to the 1982 NCAA Championship. While it was the turning point in his career, Jordan was a freshman during that time. His final college game was not as poetic as expected. And it is all because of a man named Dan Dakich.

Bob Knight’s advice

On March 22, 1984, North Carolina faced Indiana in the Sweet 16 game. The Tar Heels were 28-2, while the Hoosiers had a 21-8 record. North Carolina, powered by future NBA players Michael Jordan, Sam Perkins, and Kenny Smith, among others, was highly-expected to win. But the Tar Heels were helmed by legendary coach Bob Knight. He told his team captain, Dan Dakich, that he’ll be guarding Jordan all night. His advice was pretty direct.

Knight simply told me, ‘If he beats you, he’s going to have to beat you with a jump shot. If he gets an offensive rebound, if he gets a back cut or if he posts you up, you’re coming out. It’s that simple’” Dakich said, per ncaa.com.

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The myth is that after Knight told Dakich that he’ll be assigned to Jordan, the 6-foot-5 guard went to his hotel room and vomited all over the floor. While this is true, Dakich did not vomit out of immense nervousness. He wasn’t feeling well the entire week. Thinking that eating a fully-loaded meal would cure him, Dakich ate a pre-game meal consisting of hamburgers, spaghetti, eggs, and ice cream. It made everything worse.

Stopping the Jordan fade

The Hoosiers and Dakich contained Jordan to just 13 points. A major part of this was Knight’s insistence on attacking North Carolina’s dreaded full-court press. This put several players in foul trouble, especially Michael Jordan. He already had two fouls by the first seven and a half minutes of the game and had to sit on the bench.

Of course, Dakich played a key part as well. He took Knight’s advice to heart. He also recalled an elementary basketball coach’s advice on defending a fadeaway shot.

If I’m going to have a video on my gravesite, it’s Michael Jordan taking a turnaround jump shot in the second half, and I walked into him, and instead of lifting up and shooting, he fell backward and threw it away. So my story is I intimidated Michael Jordan on that turnaround jump shot because of my sixth-grade coach,” Dakich said.

So there you have it. While Jordan’s stint in North Carolina was legendary, the GOAT still had his fair share of troubles. Before he wreaked havoc in the NBA, Jordan struggled to score against the Hoosiers and a man named Dan Dakich.

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