“It’s a different thickness in the air when you walk in the gym with MJ in the arena,” said Vernon Maxwell about the aura of greatness surrounding Michael Jordan. Stepping on the court with No. 23 on the opposite side was no different.
When you play against that motherf****r, you gotta be a little different. You can’t go in that motherf****r game like passive. He can sense a motherf****r if you scared.Vernon Maxwell, Real Ones
Most of the guys are, and Michael was like a shark smelling blood. Standing up to him was the prerequisite for having even a slight chance of containing the GOAT. Otherwise, he’d demoralize you in a heartbeat, and get pretty nasty in the process.
When he elbow you in your sh*t if you don’t do nothing if you don’t elbow that motherf****r back in his sh*t you know he gonna oh he know he got a b***h out here tonight. So you know I’m just being 1000 man he is a killer out there, man, and he’s a dirty motherf****r.Vernon Maxwell, Real Ones
That’s what separates goods from the all-time greats. Some would describe it as being harsh. The likes of MJ and Kobe Bryant would describe it as being a winner. And in their eyes, the end always justified the means. Maxwell could never match MJ’s skill level – he was a 17-point scorer at his best. But Mad Max understood his approach.
To be that great night in night out, you have to be a dog and have that grit, that dirty sh*t and all that.Vernon Maxwell, Real Ones
So how did Vernon respond to a matchup against His Airness? He did something very few had the guts to do – he decided to be the tone-setter. The 6-4 guard never allowed himself to get intimidated by Black Cat.
I put that sh*t out there. I was trying him. I don’t think he really knew a lot about me, but I know he knew who I was. But I was f*****g with him, talking sh*t, get a bucket on him, ‘Yeah motherf****r it’s gonna be all night for you too.’Vernon Maxwell, Real Ones
Most of the time, that’s not how things played out. 17 times they faced each other, the Bulls won 11 games, and Michael averaged 30.6 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 4.6 assists on 49.8% shooting. Maxwell put up 13.6 points on 41.6% from the field.
But matchups like these aren’t about the numbers. The skill gap is too wide, and most of the time, the outcome is set in stone. No matter who was guarding him, Michael was going to get his. But how he got there is what it’s all about. Because Maxwell never left the gym feeling dispirited. He never allowed Jordan to get into his head. That in and of itself is an anomaly and something very few guys who defended No. 23 can brag about.