Skip to main content

Kenny Smith on Michael Jordan dominating UNC pick-up games — "I want them MFs to know I'm never leaving the court"

"The Jet" joined MJ, and the two continued to dominate the legendary UNC summer pick-ups

Every summer, both past and present UNC players used to return to Carmichael Auditorium to play pick-up games. Naturally, the level of greatness garnered in the same gym is through the roof. It was no different in 1985.

"Any NBA team we would've beat," said Kenny "The Jet" Smith about the collection of players that gathered in the summer after his sophomore year. Michael Jordan being there had a lot to do with it.

Summer pick-ups

Coming off his Rookie of The Year campaign with the Bulls, Michael had already announced himself as the next big thing in the basketball world. But Jordan that made his return to UNC wasn't the same Jordan that left the college a year earlier. That Jordan had an obvious flaw in his game - a lack of ball-handling skills. This Jordan, the 1985 version, didn't.

That's why Kenny was no longer looking to defend Michael during pick-ups - his "whack handles" used to make him predictable on offense. The one thing he could exploit while guarding Michael was no longer there. So instead of taking up the challenge of going head to head against MJ, "The Jet" wanted to play alongside him. And more often than not, he did, starting the summer before.

At first, Kenny was the kid picked last. But as time went on, he proved himself, so much so that Michael started picking him first.

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

"The Jet" on MJ's dominance during pick-ups

"The pros go on one end, and the college players go on the other," Kenny said about juniors and seniors (Michael and Sam Perkins) picking the teams. "But you can crossover."

"As a freshman, you're just sitting," Smith continued. "They're not picking you, and you get on the court at the end. But about a week later, Michael is picking and he's like, 'I got New York,' -- they used to call me New York. I was like, 'Oh sh*t, I got picked first, and there's 20 pros in the gym.' So my confidence was boosted."

Kenny and MJ went on to dominate the pick-ups. But once again, MJ stole the show. His unmatched competitive fire was always there, but that's the first time Smith saw its manifestation.

"Every time we win, you go get water, and I'm watching Mike and he's standing in the middle of center court. I walk up and I'm like, 'What are you doing?' He's like, 'I want them MFs to know that I'm not leaving the court. I'mma be the first to stand here and last.'"

Kenny "The Jet" Smith, ALL THE SMOKE

Kenny joined him, and the two continued to dominate the legendary UNC summer pick-ups. And for the first time, he realized that Michael's domination would also transfer into the NBA. He also knew there would be a lot of trash talking to go along with it. But from that moment on, "The Jet" knew MJ would always back it up.

Boston Celtics forward Larry Bird and Atlanta Hawks forward Dominique Wilkins

“I did not shake Larry Bird’s hand for 13 years” — Dominique Wilkins reveals the truth about his rivalry with Larry Bird

Wilkins said that he and Larry never really had to talk or shake hands to let each other know that the respect was there.

Los Angeles Lakers small forward Kobe Bryant and San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker

How Kobe Bryant learned to speak french so he could trash talk Tony Parker

Tony Parker did his best not to react to Kobe Bryant's french but deep inside he couldn't stop laughing.

Elton John and Philadelphia 76ers forward Elton Brand

“Well you rebound like Elton John” — Elton Brand explains why he only lasted 24 hours on Twitter

Elton Brand did not find social media useful. Instead, he saw it as a platform where random people can easily insult him.

Karl-Malone-John-Stockton

“They should be honored because they got to play with me” — Greg Ostertag's epic tribute to Karl Malone and John Stockton

Ostertag explained why Stockton and Malone should be everyone's rolemodels if they want to be great in the NBA.

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Garnett

"My wife is like, ‘What the hell is wrong with you?’" - Kevin Garnett admits he felt the itch to make an NBA return

Kevin Garnett admitted that at one point, he thought his body was urging him to make an epic NBA return.

New Orleans Pelicans guard CJ McCollum

CJ McCollum signs a two-year, $64 million extension with the New Orleans Pelicans

With McCollum now secured for the future alongside Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram, the Pelicans are a team to keep an eye on.