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The only guy to torch Michael Jordan while trash-talking him


When you hear about the stories involving Michael Jordan and trash-talking, 99% of the time, it is about MJ's opponents getting a bit too confident and making the mistake of provoking the GOAT. That almost always led to Michael taking it personally, getting fired up, and destroying his matchup. But on a particular February night back in 1996, Jordan was on the other side of the story, getting torched all while getting trash-talked, without being able to do anything about it.

The story of Rex Chapman

Back in 1988, the Charlotte Hornets drafted a young promising player out of Kentucky by the name of Rex Chapman. Nicknamed "Boy Wonder," Rex had expectations to deliver on his shoulders early, but that didn't faze him. Chapman had a certain aura around him that oozed confidence, even sometimes to a fault. An entertaining player to watch player, combining athleticism and the ability to score from deep.

But having him on your team was frustrating at times, as Rex could miss his first ten shots and keep going. That's where the irrational confidence came into play. Chapman was playing ahead of his time, shooting 6.1 three-pointers per game in an era that wasn't known for emphasizing the deep shoot too much. At 33%, you could say that is too much, but Rex didn't care as his game was electric and versatile.

In the end, Rex never managed to live up to his potential, but that didn't stop him from having one of the most interesting careers ever. No individual accolades or championships by his name, but Rex still gets remembered for his flashy and bold style of play that also led to the best game of his career against who other than Michael Jordan.

Torching the best team and player of all time

Even though MJ was a few years older than Rex, the two still managed to build a friendship due to them sharing the same agent. Jordan was even recruiting Chapman to commit to UNC before entering the NBA. In their many NBA battles, Jordan often got the best of Chapman and dominated, despite Rex putting up a valiant effort. But on one night, the tables completely turned.

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On February 23th, 1996, the Bulls got to Miami to play against the Heat. Keep in mind this is by many the best basketball team of all time that ended the season with a 72-10 record and championship. At the time, they were an impressive 48-5, while the Heat, on the other side, were a below-average team with a 24-29 record. Obviously, the Bulls were the heavy favorites coming in, but the game went in a completely different way. Thanks mainly to Rex Chapman.

That confidence served him well on this night, as Chapman got out the gate firing on all cylinders, scoring 10 points early in the game. Rex was heating up, and MJ decided to take the matter into his own hands, picking Chapman up full-court. Now you would think that would be the end of Rex's hot streak, but even MJ had no solution for him. Chapman kept on torching the Bulls, despite MJ pressuring him. It got so bad that Phil Jackson did the unthinkable and switched Jordan off Chapman, only to have Steve Kerr guard him. You can only imagine how much of a hit on MJ's ego that was, as Chapman finished the first half with 24 points on 6 three-pointers.

In the second half, Jordan had enough and tried to turn things around. Down by 22, MJ would drive to the hole and get fouled hard by Chapman, leading to a verbal exchange between the two. Even though Rex downplayed the situation in various interviews later in his life, some chirping was obviously going on at the time. But rumors started floating through social media that Rex was actually all in Jordan's ear, saying something along the lines of: 'You can't guard me! Get out of my face. You better switch off.'

Pretty bold and courageous from Rex considering MJ's track record of destroying his opponents, especially after trying to provoke him. But that simply didn't happen, as this was Rex Chapman's night. It's didn't matter that Michael was his friend and the most feared basketball player on the planet. Chapman was in a zone by himself on that game. He eventually finished the game with 39 points on 9 three-pointers, as the Heat gave the Bulls a convincing loss. One of only 10 losses Chicago had that season. On the other side, Jordan finished the game with 31 points, but that was entirely overshadowed by the fact Chapman individually went at him and outplayed him.

Even though Rex looked like the epitome of confidence that night, when speaking about it now, he is really humble and moderate about it, saying it was mostly luck. Sure Jordan would get his revenge later in the same season, sweeping the Heat in the playoffs and going after Chapman in every single game after. But on this February night, it wasn't about Jordan and the iconic 96' Bulls. It was all about Rex Chapman beating the brakes off them and letting them know about it. Iconic.

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