Many players knew you can't talk trash to Michael Jordan and get away with it. Vincent Yarbrough learned that the hard way.
Yarbrough, then a rookie with the Denver Nuggets, found himself on the receiving end of Jordan's ire during a game in January 2003. Jordan was in his final season with the Washington Wizards and was playing poorly early on in the game. In an effort to get into Jordan's head, Yarbrough started talking trash to him. You know what happened next.
Yarbrough grew up idolizing MJ
Like any youngster who grew up in the 1990s, Vincent Yarbrough dreamed of being like No.23. He watched Jordan dominate the NBA for years, watched every game, and followed his every step.
"When the Bulls came on television in my house. You couldn't talk," recalled Yarbrough.
So it was no surprise that when Yarbrough finally made it to the league as the 33rd pick in the 2002 NBA Draft, he took note of the date, January 20, 2003, as it was the first time he would get to play against his childhood idol. By then, Jordan was already 39 years old and playing in his last year for the Washington Wizards.
As the game got underway, it became apparent that Jordan was not himself. He missed nine of his 14 attempts from the field, and Washington was getting blown out by the Nuggets.
The rookie starts talking trash to MJ
With Jordan struggling, Yarbrough and fellow rookie Junior Harrington were disappointed to see their idol looking so mortal.
"Kobe averaged 44 against us that season and Tracy McGrady gave us 43. So with Mike retiring that season, we really wanted to see him go off. So me and Junior started to poke and prod him, telling him, 'That's garbage,' each time he missed," Yarbrough said.
The two young men even went as far as rankling Jordan over his famed Air Jordans, saying, "Take them ugly a– shoes off."
As the game continued, Jordan kept chipping away at the Nuggets' lead. And with every basket he made, he glared at Yarbrough and Harrington and said something to them.
"Hold on now, you little b—-. You grew up watching me, I didn't grow up watching you!"
Jordan scored 10 points in the fourth quarter, including numerous clutch baskets that put the Nuggets away in an 89-74 win. He finished the game with 25 points, six assists, five rebounds, a steal, and a block.
Despite the loss, Yarbrough was all smiles after the game, as he had accomplished his goal of getting into Jordan's head and making him play his best.