Rarely do we hear stories of college players studying tape of NBA greats with the intention of knowing their every move when and if they finally face-off, but that’s exactly what young John Starks did.
Starks, while still in college had his wife film every Bulls game so that he could study Michael Jordan’s moves and be ready for them if they ever went toe-to-toe.
“In college, I was always on the road so I couldn’t tape the games. I’d have my mom tape all the Chicago Bulls games so that I could watch them when I got home. And so I used to study him all the time, and when I got the opportunity to play against him, I had already played against him in my mind.”John Starks, Where Are They Now In Sports With Eddie Mata
Kind of crazy if you think about it considering that based on his shaky college career, one wouldn’t even expect him to ever make it to the league.
His road to the NBA was a bumpy one, filled with foolish mistakes most young men do. After graduating from high school in 1984. he enrolled in Rogers State College where he was a member of the school’s “taxi squad”. “Taxi squad players were basically the backup’s backup, and they watched the games from the stands in civilian clothing.
After a disappointing season, he was expelled from Rogers State and was forced to transfer to Northern Oklahoma College in the Spring of 1985. By fall he was playing steady minutes and was averaging 11 points per game, but that’s when another mishap which involved him smoking reefer happened.
Consequently, he was expelled again, and then transferred to Tulsa Junior College where his play caught the attention Ken Trickery who recruited him to play for the Oklahoma Junior College where he spent one season playing basketball at a level which enabled him to earn a scholarship for Oklahoma State University where he finished his college career.
In 1988. he declared for the NBA draft but went undrafted. The same summer though, he ended up signing with the Golden State Warriors but played limited minutes in the 36 games as the Warriors drafted Mitch Richmond with the 5th pick overall that year.
In one of those 36 games, though, he finally manifested something he was getting ready since his college days, and that was to be prepared for the moment he would face Michael Jordan.
When asked about what MJ had to say to the rookie during their first encounter, Starks replied with this:
Interestingly enough, all of Starks’ efforts in preparing for that exact moment were not in vain as according to him he played a great first game against MJ.
“I played very well that first game against him, and by the end of the game I went up to him and said ‘You didn’t get a Mr. Jordan out of me tonight.”John Starks, Where Are They Now In Sports With Eddie Mata
John Starks went on to become a legendary Knickerbocker and by the end of his playing career, he had many epic battles with Jordan and the Bulls.