Rex Chapman was one of the first exceptional white dunkers in the NBA. Chapman was a Hornets lottery pick and had the elegance and style that followed him through even before his NBA days when he was a star at Kentucky. He also had a memorable performance at the slam dunk contest in 1991 finishing third behind Dee Brown and Shawn Kemp.
Chapman had a few exciting seasons in Charlotte and a couple of seasons with the Bullets, which will mostly be remembered by his injuries. After he was traded to the Miami Heat, Chapman played in what is his most memorable career game against MJ and the Chicago Bulls during their 72-10 run back in the 1995/96 season.
On February 23rd in 1996, Chapman knocked down 9 of 10 3-pointers and scored 39 points in a victory over Jordan and the UnbeataBulls. In those years, Miami Heat was starting to become a reliable team, racking up enough wins for a respectable record and a playoff berth.
”They just came out from the tip-off to whip our butts,” Jordan said after the game. ”And we didn’t feel the lashing or wake up from it until it was too late in the game. We just didn’t come to play.”
The crazy thing about this game was that the day before, the Miami Heat made three trades, which involved 10 players, so the team had only 8 players available for the game. One of the starters in this game, Tony Smith, arrived just a couple of hours before the tip-off. He barely had time to check out the playbook, and unofficial Heat historian Ira Winderman wrote that Smith went into the game knowing five sets. Even the announcers sounded like they don’t care about the game, and probably didn’t want to be there. One announcer also said: “Let’s get this one and go back home, Mike.”
It is worth mentioning some other players who came up to play that night vs. Bulls. Alonzo Mourning controlled the paint and put up 19 points and 12 boards. Voshon Leonard scored 19 off the bench and a fresh off the plane Tony Smith scored 16 points and dished out a game-high 7 assists. BUT, it was Rex Chapman who stole the show with his epic performance.
Rex made an appearance on The Dan Patrick show, talked about his performance against MJ, the truth behind the “trash-talking” and how Jordan got some payback.
“I loved playing against Michael. For one reason, the main reason was that he hated chasing screens. That was — or kind of became — my thing after a while. I knew I was going to get open looks all night long. It was just a matter of whether I was going to make them.”
Chapman never again played better than that night. Watching him and the rest of the Heat destroy the Bulls with three-pointers, almost exclusively three-pointers is one of the most exciting but also underrated games from that season.