Skip to main content

“There's no 'Jordan rules' when you play 1-on-1“ — Bryon Russell claims Michael Jordan 'chickened out' from a 1-on-1 challenge

After being called out by Michael Jordan during his Hall of Fame speech, Bryon Russell hit back and challenged MJ to a 1-on-1 game. According to Russell, Jordan "chickened out."
Chicago Bulls guard Michael Jordan goes up against Utah Jazz player Bryon Russell

Bryon Russell and Michael Jordan

Widely regarded as arguably the greatest basketball shot ever made, Michael Jordan’s “The Last Shot” during Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals is a thing of beauty. While MJ is being glorified whenever it plays on documentaries and media platforms such as YouTube, some of us couldn’t help but wonder how hard it is to be Bryon Russell, the man on the other end of the timeless NBA highlight.

His Airness rips Bryon

When the historic NBA Finals moment occurred, Jordan was still with the Chicago Bulls, and Russell was with the Utah Jazz. It was MJ’s final game as a Bull - he joined the Washington Wizards when he made his second NBA comeback in 2001. It’s safe to say nobody expected it, but destiny fooled around a bit with MJ and Russell as they became teammates in Washington the following season.

As expected, Jordan bullied Russell over the controversial yet undeniably epic shot in Utah in 1998. Former Wizards center Brendan Haywood happened to witness it once and vividly recalled “His Airness” telling Russell, “That’s why they call you the human highlight reel. Not because you have any highlights of your own but because you are in all of mine.

Jordan and Russell were teammates for only one season. And evidently, it was a very short period of time for the pair to be able to bury the hatchet and move on. In fact, during his Hall of Fame speech in 2009, MJ ripped Russell once again.

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

Bryon hits back

This time, Jordan’s comments did not go unnoticed. Shortly after that speech, Russell clapped back and issued a serious and detailed “1-on-1” game challenge for MJ.

I’ll play his ass right now,” Russell said via Yahoo Sports in 2009. “This is a call-out for him to come play me. He can come out here in his private jet and come play. He’s got millions of dollars. He can pay for the jet. He can meet me at the Recreation Center in Calabasas. We can have Mark Jackson do the commentating. We can have Mitch Richmond do the officiating. We can put it on TV and see if Michael’s still got it. I keep my basketball shorts on.

Russell even directed Jordan to get his phone number from a mutual friend if he decided he was up for the challenge.

MJ chickened out?

As taunting as Russell’s challenge was, it became apparent that it wasn’t enough to get Jordan’s competitive juices flowing. Four years later, TMZ Sports reported that Russell claimed MJ “chickened out” from his challenge, quoting the former Jazz guard saying, “there’s no ‘Jordan rules’ when you play 1-on-1.

The report stated that Russell said the six-time NBA champion did not give any specific reason why but “just didn’t wanna do it.

Who would've won in 2009 and in 2013? We'll never know. (My money is on MJ) However, one thing we can be sure about is that Russell was never in MJ’s realm.

Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler during media day

Is Jimmy Butler the ultimate troll or a business guru?

With Jimmy Butler moving towards the latter half of his career, it seems that he wants to start building his off-court brand.

Charles Barkley and Michael Jordan on Oprah Show

“He never understand what it takes to be a winner” — When Michael Jordan humiliated Charles Barkley on Oprah

It’s hard to tell if Jordan took Barkley’s joke personally, but what he said next changed the vibe and the entire atmosphere in a few seconds.

Chicago Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan

"I don't think I could truly be happy until I retire" - DeMar DeRozan pulls the curtain back on daily rigors of NBA life

There's one thing Chicago Bulls star DeMar DeRozan is looking forward to the most when he hangs up his sneakers for good.

Venus Williams and Shaquille O'Neal

When Shaquille O'Neal lied about having affairs with Venus Williams, Cindy Crawford, and Aaliyah

Venus Williams issued a strong statement upon hearing Shaquille O'Neal's claims.

Chicago Bulls guard Michael Jordan is defended by Detroit Pistons center James Edwards

“The Bulls complained all the time” — Kevin McHale reveals why the Detroit “Bad Boys” Pistons hated the Chicago Bulls

Unlike Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, Kevin McHale believes the physicality the Bad Boy Pistons played with was valid and it made his Celtics even better.

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant and guard Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook still does the same offseason workout he and Kevin Durant used to do in OKC — “It definitely helps”

Russell Westbrook revealed that he has been running on sand dunes for about eight years now every offseason and it has been helping him a lot.

New Orleans Hornets center Chris Kaman

How Chris Kaman got Player Exclusive "Air Sasqhatuces" from Nike in 2012

After he became an All-Star in 2010, Chris Kaman triggered a clause in his Nike deal that he’d get Player Exclusives