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Saturday, August 13, 2022

‘I Couldn’t Play the Whole Game’

This week, the NBA (National Basketball Association) released the first batch of its annual Rookie Survey of 15,000 players. As expected, this year’s class of rookies was a very talented bunch of players. However, like previous years, the survey also highlighted some interesting tidbits about the rookie class. In particular, the survey asked about the first month of the season, and what was reported was quite interesting.

In the first half of the 1980s, the Miami Heat and the San Diego Clippers met in the playoffs. For the first time in NBA history, a team from the Eastern Conference had beaten a team from the Western Conference. The two teams were very evenly matched and the series was a close one. But the Heat would blow it in the fourth quarter of Game 6.

Under normal circumstances, meeting Michael Jordan was a daunting experience. Not only did His Majesty have an incredible talent, but he didn’t like to be solemn. Whether you were an NBA legend, a rookie or anyone in between, he challenged you with equal ease. In the early 1990s, Larry Johnson saw this in his own experience.

Early in his NBA career, Johnson stepped onto the floor and faced Jordan for the first time. MJ was not ready for the exchange of pleasantries. Instead, he asked the attacker a question about his mother and then continued on his way.

Michael Jordan was very good at saying mean things


Needless to say, His Majesty entered the NBA floor with a ton of talent under his belt. Besides his physical attributes, Jordan had another weapon: a sharp tongue and an arsenal of sarcastic statements.

Given his almost obsessive desire to win, this willingness to engage in a war of words is not entirely surprising. While MJ had no problem pushing his opponents and putting them in their place – just ask Reggie Miller – he was an equal opportunity offender.

According to the stories that circulated over the years, Jordan was more than willing to talk to anyone within earshot. Rodney McCray was called a loser during his time with the Bulls; the failed Utah Jazz fan also faced the wrath of His Lordship during the 1987 campaign. Even Bill Clinton and Barack Obama got a few jokes from MJ about their golf game.

But that’s not to say Jordan was always bad and antagonistic. In at least one case, he used a more subtle approach to get into his opponent’s head.

Michael Jordan asks Larry Johnson how his mother is doing

Michael Jordan (left) and Larry Johnson (right) had a memorable encounter on the NBA floor. | Brian Bair /Allsport and Jonathan Daniel /Allsport

Given MJ’s star status, it’s completely understandable for an NBA player to remember his first encounter with His Greatness. Larry Johnson is no exception to this rule.

The striker joined the club in 1991 and over time crossed paths with Jordan on the pitch. But when the two men met, MJ had an unusual question up his (metaphorical) sleeve.

He did some dumb things, Johnson recalled in the Players’ Tribune’s Knuckleheads podcast. The first time I met him, we were leaving the set and he came up to me and asked: Like Dorothy?

Moderators Quentin Richardson and Darius Miles thought Jordan Johnson was trying to tell them he was no longer at Kansas, but that was not the case. The living legend has actually become even more personal.

He asked: Like Dorothy? She’s my mother, Johnson. I couldn’t play the whole game. … He came up to me and asked me how my mother was. I used his name. I used his name. He looked in the program and saw that my mother’s name was Dorothy. I went into the program and used my mother’s name. I think I scored eight points. I had an average of 24.

Larry Johnson struggled that night, but still made a successful NBA career


Although Johnson did not confirm the exact date of this exchange with MJ, it can be assumed that it was relatively early in the striker’s professional career, as it was the first time the two men met. The Hornets’ offense struggled mightily tonight, but Jordan’s taunts didn’t seem to have any lasting effects.

After a successful college career at UNLV, Johnson was named to the All-NBA First Team in 1991. In his first pro campaign, he averaged 19.2 points and 11 rebounds per game and was named Rookie of the Year. He followed that up with an even more impressive sophomore campaign, earning his first career All-Star honors. The attacker was even important enough to pop up in ‘s Space Jam as one of the players whose talent was stolen by the Monstars.

Although injuries shortened his playing time, Johnson still spent 10 seasons in the Association before leaving for the sun. He played in 707 games and, judging by his appearance on Knuckleheads , made some great memories with Michael Jordan.

statistics provided by Basketball-Reference

COMPARED TO: Michael Jordan’s Hall of Fame speech led to a direct challenge from former NBA rival Bryon RussellHere’s an interesting thing: the University of Kentucky has a scholarship program for the best UK basketball players in the state. The school offers $25,000 scholarships to the top 20 high school basketball players from the state, and they add a special caveat: the player must have played the entire season. This is a requirement right out of the gate, no exceptions allowed.. Read more about why is my game not working and let us know what you think.

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