One of the main reasons behind Michael Jordan‘s greatness was that he was extremely coachable and always ready to learn and improve. Luckily for him, he always had great mentors in his life, and when it comes to his earlier basketball days, it was the legendary coach Dean Smith. Known as a great mentor, Smith taught Jordan how to play the game the right way, and fortunately for him, Jordan was willing to learn.
Even though they had a great relationship, Smith had to introduce different measures to keep everybody in check, and Jordan was treated the same as other players on the roster.
His former teammate at UNC, David Chadwick, remembers one specific practice when Smith saw Jordan not competing and participating as he should. At that time, Jordan was already a college superstar, and his ego was through the roof, which affected his performance in practice. Smith wanted to break his ego to get him back in check, and he most definitely succeeded.
In 1983 Michael was full of himself and dogging it at practice. Dean Smith had a rule that if you dogged it, the whole team had to run extra. So Dean stopped the practice, put a chair in the middle of the floor, and told Michael to sit and watch while the rest of the team ran. I think that was the defining moment for Michael.
There were numerous occasions in which Jordan shared his appreciation for coach Smith and everything he learned about the game and life itself. Coming to UNC, Jordan was a raw player, and Smith taught him how to develop his skillset and play within a system where every player has their role. He was also a mentor for him to keep him in check and humble at all times.
That was later seen in Jordan’s career, in which he never put himself in front of a team despite being the best individual player. Maybe this is something he learned that day back in 1983 when he tried to dodge his way out of practice, and Dean Smith had put him in check and showed him that he is not special.