Personally, I can’t think of a basketball fan that has not seen all ten episodes of “The Last Dance.” The ten-part documentary series gave fans insight into Jordan’s last season with the Chicago Bulls and brought laughs through stories of MJ’s intensely competitive nature. Who could forget the story of Labradford Smith, the Denver Nuggets guard who allegedly talked smack to his Airness after having a good game, giving Jordan motivation to seek his revenge in their next matchup?
The series revealed that nobody recalls Smith saying anything to Michael Jordan, leading us to believe that the whole episode was something Michael had conjured up in his head to give him increased motivation to destroy Smith. This was not the only time Jordan had done this, and in fact, similar instances have happened involving more prominent players in the league at that time.
“I remember that s**t you was talking last game.”Michael Jordan to Walt Williams, 1-ON-1 with Basketball Network
In a matchup between the Toronto Raptors and the Chicago Bulls during the 1996-1997 season, Walt drew the assignment of guarding Michael Jordan. Long story short, Walt had a great game while Jordan’s performance was subpar. Walt talked to us about their strategy to try and limit MJ in that game. For more on that revenge game story, you can watch a snippet from our interview with Walt below.
Jordan got his revenge a few weeks later when the Raptors faced the Bulls in Chicago, but it’s funny how the accused is absolutely certain that he did not talk trash to MJ during his Airness subpar game against Walt.
“I never said anything to Michael that game.”Walt Williams, 1-ON-1 with Basketball Network
Instances like these are true testaments to Jordan’s greatness. Imagine how determined you would have to be to conjure up a scenario in your head just to tap into a level of motivation so high that you absolutely destroy an opponent? Only Kobe Bryant would do that, and we know he got this from Mike. Walt’s story begins the total of make-believe trash-talking stories from Jordan to two, but somehow I’m certain that there are many more that have yet to be shared. Michael was just on a different level in terms of his competitive fire, which more than his championships, is what makes him the GOAT.
The more I hear about Jordan’s ridiculous competitive nature, the more I understand how the Bulls dominated the 90s the way they did. The question now becomes, will we ever see such a player again? One with the same mix of skill and drive that will allow him to dominate the NBA as MJ did? It remains to be seen, but it does not look like such a being exists anymore, and in that case, maybe Jordan will forever be the greatest ever to play the game.