In the summer of 1988, Michael Jordan accepted the task of judging a slam dunk contest in South Carolina. The dunk tournament was headlined by seven contestants, most notably Jo Jo English, who ended up teaming up with Jordan for the Chicago Bulls from 1992-1995.
Before English stepped foot in the NBA, he was just a high school kid competing in local basketball tournaments and dunk contests in South Carolina. And It just so happened that in one of the dunk contests English signed up for, Jordan was the judge.
A vital lesson learned for English
Determined to put on a show for the hometown hero Jordan, English won the dunk contest with flying colors. Jo Jo went deep in his bag as he showcased his ability to wow a crowd with a hammer dunk and reverse jam — both swagger-like moves that earned him the top score based on Jordan's book.
After winning the dunk contest, knowing full well that Jordan handed him the highest score, English then trash-talked him. MJ then felt the kid was talking too much, which inspired him to challenge English in a 1-on-1 dunk contest, despite wearing street clothes.
The contest was a treat to the South Carolina crowd who witnessed a dunk tournament between Jordan (who at that time was still making a name for himself in the NBA) and a high schooler.
Jordan ended up orchestrating a slam dunk masterclass after dominating the tournament and teaching English and the world a lesson to never trash talk Black Jesus again — the same lesson that the NBA eventually learned and caught up on years after Jordan took over the league.
Jordan and English's time together
After a successful high school career in Lower Richards, English took his talents to the University of South Carolina, where his career didn't go as planned. Despite going undrafted in 1992 and working his way to the Chicago Bulls thanks to his performance in the Summer League, English again found himself in Jordan's presence, but this time, as his teammate in the '92 and '93 Bulls teams.
“It was tough,” English said about his experience with the Bulls in an interview with Watch FOX 57 in 2020. “You had to be mentally tough to survive, and I earned my respect from them, and that's why I was able to play with them the length of time I did.”
The rookie barely saw minutes in his first year with the Bulls, only playing 6 games where he averaged 1.6 points. English's best year in the NBA happened the year after when he played 36 games for the Bulls. He then finished his career overseas and is currently the head coach of his high school's alma mater's basketball team.
Despite not having the perfect basketball career, at least English won 2 championship rings with Jordan and learned a lot of lessons from their time together, including never trash-talking the GOAT again.