The '90s were a golden era of NBA basketball because we had so many great players and teams we don't even talk about. Of course, we all know about Jordan, Barkley, Hakeem, Malone, and other superstars. But what about the great players that got left behind the center of attention even though they were unbelievable talents? One of those guys is most definitely Larry Johnson.
Larry Johnson, known for his unique nickname "Grandmama," was one of the most explosive and dominant power forwards of the '90s. Even though he was just 6'6'', Larry used his strength and agility to punish the basket and be known as one of the most terrifying players of that era. During his 10-year career, Johnson represented the Hornets and the Knicks, winning the ROY award and notching 2x All-Star appearances. His best season came in 1995, in his last season with the Hornets, averaging 20.5 ppg, 8.4 rpg, and 4.4 apg. If you want a comparison with a modern-day player, it is scary how much Larry resembles Zion, both in the way they play and look on the court.
But as Larry played in the '90s, he never managed to go all the way with his teams, even though he played with some pretty good groups. So considering he was in his prime while Michael Jordan was winning all of his six championships, it was only natural Larry encountered MJ numerous times in the Eastern Conference. Larry told the story of the first time he met Michael Jordan while talking with Quentin Richardson and Darius Miles on the Knucklehead podcast, and of course, just like every MJ story, Larry didn't disappoint.
"He did some bulls--t. The first time I met him, it was on the court. And he walk straight up to me and go: 'How's Dorothy?'...That's my mom. Oh, s--t she alright. I couldn't play the whole game. You got me, you got me. He walk up to me and ask me how my mom was. Who does that?... I think I scored 8 points, and I was averaging 24."
Larry Johnson, The Knuckleheads Podcast
You know it's serious when moms are involved, but MJ went in another direction. Michael was known as one of the kings of trash-talking and mind games. Sometimes he would be more vocal and direct, but in instances like this, Jordan went simple but effective, throwing Larry off his game because he was thinking about how Michael asked about his mom. Just another classic example of why Jordan is the GOAT on the basketball court and in the art of getting into your opponent's head.
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