There are many incredible stories about MJ that perfectly depict his greatness as a basketball player. Jordan knew he was by far the best player on the floor in any given situation, and he used that to gain a competitive edge against everybody in the league. He was also known for often playing “games within the game,” where he would choose a target among the opposing team’s players or even with the fans.
Coming into the league, Ray Allen was projected to do big things and was touted as perhaps the best player in the draft. He was picked 5th by Milwaukee in 1996, in one of the best drafts in NBA history. The draft featured Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, Steve Nash, Marcus Camby, Shareef Abdur Rahim, Stephon Marbury, and Peja Stojakovic among others.
NBA scout Phil Bedard reported the following about the youngster prior to the draft.
A natural scorer. Allen's graceful, compact moves on offense often evoke comparisons with Michael Jordan. Allen is probably more of a scorer than a natural shooter, but he can hit from long distance. He runs the break like a gazelle and can finish effectively. His size and diverse offensive game are well-suited to the up-tempo pace of the NBA.
Phil Bedard, NBA Scout
Have you seen highlights of young Ray Allen? He was a beast and was considered more of a scorer than shooter coming into the league, as he would often slice the defense and finish with a flashy dunk.
The 2-time NBA champ appeared on The Dan Patrick Show back in 2018 where he talked about his NBA career, Boston and the beef with his ex-teammates, and ultimately shared an interesting anecdote about his first encounter with Michael Jordan back in his rookie year.
Milwaukee played the Bulls at home in back in '96 and Ray being the young athletic scorer who was even compared to MJ, was given the task to guard Jordan for the majority of the game.
Even though he did everything by the book, Jordan kept scoring on him with ease. Michael had no mercy, but what's most interesting about this story is that he kept telling Ray’s coach Chris Ford how he will be a great player one day.
“He wasn’t mean to me. He actually killed me slowly. Jordan would actually comment to the coach that I’m doing a good job out there, while at the same time pouring in 45.
MJ finished the game with 40 points while Allen, on the other hand, had only 8 points shooting very poor from the field. Allen said Jordan wasn’t even trash talking to him as he usually does to other players, but he did make his presence known that game.
I remember Chris Ford was yelling at me all the time that I should get in front of him. And I’m fronting him on the post and MJ just kind of slowly glides across the floor and gets the ball. He shakes and scores. I did everything the game plan said, and then there is a break in the action, and we’re sitting there, and you know Chris Ford is hammering me and MJ comes over and said that I’m doing a great job while in the meantime he has 45 in the books.”
Michael was probably genuine when he made the comment about Allen doing a good job out there. However, no matter what you did, you were not going to stop championship-level Michael Jordan. Period.