10 Stories That Prove Michael Jordan was the most competitive athlete ever

If you were born in the 1980s or before, and you’ve watched the NBA, then chances are you know who Michael Jordan is. Actually, scratch that. The first thing that anyone learns about the game of basketball (other than how to play) is who Michael Jordan is, the greatest to ever play the game. And for those that think the greatest is Kobe Bryant or Lebron James, we’ll get to that in another post. What some may or may not know is that Michael Jordan was also the greatest competitor the sport of basketball has ever seen! And today, I’m going to tell you 10 stories that prove how competitive he truly was. Even if you don’t like basketball, or aren’t a super passionate fan, you will still find these stories jaw-dropping.

#10: He Bribed Airport Employees

Yes, you read that correctly. Michael Jordan would do anything to win, on and off the court. In fact, Jordan was so competitive that with his teammates he rigged bets before he even made them! In fact, Jordan once bet $900 to Team USA after the Olympics that his luggage would come out first in the airport. And what do you know, Mike’s luggage came out first. But Michael had actually BRIBED airport employees so his luggage would come out first. There is no doubt in my mind that this was the easiest $900 MJ ever made. That is, depending on how much he bribed the airport employees.

#9: Cards, Featuring Buzz Peterson and his Mom

While at UNC, assistant coach Buzz Peterson invited Michael Jordan over to his house to play cards with him and his mom. There is no money bet in this situation, it’s just a friendly game between two friends and an old lady. When Buzz’s mom went to the bathroom though, Micheal Jordan was caught by Buzz trying to cheat at the card game! Yes, Michael Jordan was caught trying to cheat at a game of cards when he had nothing at stake!

#8: The Ping Pong Game

When the 1992 Dream Team was at a hotel, Christian Laettner, the only college player on the Dream Team, played Michael Jordan in a game of Ping Pong and beat him. Doesn’t sound too memorable, except that after losing, MJ threw his paddle down and didn’t talk to anyone for two days. He then had a ping pong table brought up to his room and practiced non-stop for those two days. He then challenged Laettner to a rematch in front of the whole dream team, and beat him 21-4!

#7: Destroyed Toni Kukoc in the Olympics

Some people may know this story from The Last Dance documentary, but I’m still telling it. The 1992 Dream Team, as we all know, is the greatest basketball team ever assembled, and had Bulls Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen on it. During this time, Jerry Krause was scouting a player from Croatia by the name of Toni Kukoc, and Jerry Krause made it very clear that Toni Kukoc was supposed to be the face of the franchise once MJ and Pippen had left. The thing is though, Jordan and Pippen HATED Jerry Krause. Therefore, they at first hated Toni Kukoc, simply because Krause liked him. So while they were on the Dream Team, Toni Kukoc was playing for the Croatia men’s basketball team. The Croatia team had no idea what was coming, and in an interview later, Kukoc said, “I didn’t know they were going to come like that. I had no idea they were that hungry to prove a point.” Michael and Scottie didn’t see Toni Kukoc; they saw Jerry Krause wearing a Croatia men’s basketball uniform. In their first meeting, the two Bulls stars made it their mission to stop Toni Kukoc, and he ended up finishing the game with 4 points and 7 turnovers. When Michael Jordan (and Scottie Pippen) are on a mission, no one will stop them.

#6: Gained 15 Pounds of Muscle in One Summer

After three consecutive playoff losses to the “Bad Boy Pistons,” Michael Jordan snapped. He wanted to be able to compete, but he and his team kept getting pushed around. So Michael Jordan decided he was going to gain some muscle. At the end of the 1989 season, he weighed 200 pounds. At the start of the 1990-1991 season, he weighed 215 pounds! And it was all pure muscle, not like the time when Charles Barkley gained 10 or so pounds of fat the day before the NBA draft. Before that summer, Jordan didn’t lift weights, because he was afraid it was going to mess up his deadly jump-shot. After meeting with his soon-to-be personal trainer, Tim Grover, he decided it was worth it, and his jump-shot stayed the same. By the end of that summer, MJ would be looking to be the one pushing the Pistons around, and he did. He beat them in the playoffs, and won his first championship that year. All because he was tired of being pushed around.

#5: OJ Mayo

In the mid 2000s, there was a high school prospect named OJ Mayo, who was almost as hyped as Lebron James was coming into the league. He had a very complete game for the high school level, and drew attention from NBA players, teams, and colleges. He also averaged 23 points per game on varsity; as a 7th grader! So as you can imagine, by the time he was a senior, everybody was talking about him. In the summer of 2005, OJ Mayo got invited to a camp that was run by Michael Jordan. And oh boy, this kid thought he was so good that he could trash talk the GOAT and get away with it since Jordan was older and not in his prime. So at the camp, while Michael Jordan was guarding OJ, Mayo said, “You can’t guard me.” A high schooler telling the Greatest Player of All Time that he can’t guard him. And Jordan, being the competitor that he is, didn’t want to kill a high schooler, but still decided to show him who’s boss. During the next game, Jordan’s team won, and after that, Jordan said, “You may be the best high school player but I’m the best in the world,” and continued to destroy OJ Mayo in scrimmages afterward. Then, he told everyone watching to clear out of the gym so he could take OJ one-on-one (and humiliate him). And guess what? He did. Fast forward a couple of years, OJ Mayo is in the league, had drug issues, and is nothing compared to what everyone thought he’d be. They say a basketball player’s most important part of the game is confidence. And Jordan just might have ruined OJ’s.

#4: Ended Muggsy Bogues’ career

Muggsy Bogues was the shortest player to ever play in the NBA, standing at 5’3″. But even though he was small, he was good. At least, he was until Michael Jordan ruined his career — with trash talk! Don’t believe me? Well, let’s listen to the words of Johnny Bach, an assistant coach of the Chicago Bulls and Charlotte Hornets. According to him, during a first round series in 1995, his Hornets were tied with the Bulls 2-2, and the Hornets had the chance to win Game 5 of the series in Chicago. But on the biggest possession of the game, Muggsy Bogues had the ball with the Hornets down 1. Jordan didn’t even try to guard him, and told him instead, “Shoot it you f****** midget.” Muggsy shot it, and it went nowhere near the hoop. From there, the Bulls won. It is hard to believe that this one shot ruined his career, but if you look at Muggsy Bogues’ career stats on basketballreference.com, you will find that his career averages plummeted after this, and never recovered. Neither, shall we say, did Muggsy Bogues.

#3: Space Jam

After Michael Jordan came out of retirement in the mid-1990s, and missed the NBA finals, he worked on a movie called Space Jam. It featured multiple NBA players such as Patrick Ewing and Muggsy Bogues, but one reason MJ agreed to do the movie was that a gym and court were built for him to practice while on the set, so he could prepare for the next season. Not wanting the gym just to himself, Jordan invited other pros such as Reggie Miller to play with him. Michael was so obsessed with getting back into playing shape that whenever he wasn’t filming, it seemed like he was on the court. Reggie Miller even called him a “vampire” about it in an interview. In fact, one NBA player regretted going to those practice games, because he thought they made Jordan that much better, and that those games were why the Bulls went 72-10 the next year. Either way, Jordan was obsessed with getting better.

#2: 1993 NBA Finals

During the 1993 NBA Finals, Michael Jordan’s Bulls were matched up against the Phoenix Suns, led by the league MVP Charles Barkley. Many people said that Barkley and the Suns were going to win the championship and stop Michael. They finished with the best record in the league. Little did they know, Michael heard them and took this into consideration. During the season, he started becoming very good friends with Charles Barkley, talking to him, giving him gifts, playing golf, etc. So it wasn’t a big surprise to Charles Barkley when Jordan asked him to play golf with him the day before Game 4. They played 48 holes in the blistering Phoenix sun (pun intended), and once they finished, MJ gave Charles Barkley a pair of $20,000 diamond earrings. Why did Michael give him the earrings? Was it because they were such good friends? No it was not. When asked, Jordan said, “He won’t get in my way the rest of the series, what’s $20,000 to me? Charles thinks we’re great friends. I hate that fat f***.” So yeah, Michael was just doing this to get Charles Barkley off his back in the Finals! And it worked pretty well, considering Jordan scored 55 points in Game 4! 55! It just goes to show how well he planned this, and two games later, the Chicago Bulls were 1993 World Champions.

#1: Lebron/Kobe/Jordan conspiracy (Note: There is no official evidence to prove this, but the facts speak for themselves)

Michael Jordan wanted to win at any cost, as you can see by the nine stories you’ve just read. While he could win on the court, once he was off it, there wasn’t much he could control, including how much his greatest rivals won. Or could he? Multiple reporters and members of the media do in fact believe that Jordan sabotages his own teams to make it harder for his rivals to win! Specifically in this case, Lebron James and Kobe Bryant. There’s a reason the man was fired from his job at the Wizards. But while MJ was President of Basketball Operations there, Rip Hamilton was also on the Wizards. He was a young rising star and averaging 20+ points per game. But it was at the same time that a young Kobe Bryant and Shaq had just three-peated. Where was Rip Hamilton the next year? On the Detroit Pistons, traded for Jerry Stackhouse, a man who had one good season and then fell off. Rip Hamilton kept getting better and averaged 23 points per game for a Detroit Pistons team who would win the 2004 NBA Championship over the Lakers! I think we can all agree that one extra ring for Kobe would seriously boost him in the GOAT discussion.

Moving on to 2010, Jordan would find himself as the Charlotte Bobacts GM, where he needed to stop an up-and-coming Lebron who had just gone to Miami in Free Agency. Michael Jordan traded Tyson Chandler to the Mavericks for absolute scrubs! This was a horrible trade for the Bobcats, but a wonderful one for the Mavericks, as they desperately needed a center. And wouldn’t you know it, fast forward to the 2011 Finals, Tyson Chandler helps the Mavericks win a championship and beat Lebron in the finals!

Fast forward to 2012, MJ cuts a great role player in Boris Diaw, who, guess what, got picked up by the San Antonio Spurs and was a key role player in their 2014 Championship run, denying Lebron another ring. Would Jordan still be the greatest if Lebron was a 5-time or 6-time champion and Kobe was a 6-time champion? Probably not? Then again, we don’t know if he did this to sabotage them, or if he just wasn’t making the best moves. Whatever the case, it’s interesting to debate and puts this man’s competitiveness on another level.

Hope you all enjoyed, make sure to comment down below your thoughts, and as always, have an awesome day!


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