What’s the lesson? Michael Jordan would tear your heart out and show it to you.
March 19, 1993
Jordan had a poor night from the field against the Washington Bullets (feels good to write “Bullets”). The Bullets took a 1-point lead with five minutes left in the 4th quarter, when Michael rattles off the Bulls’ next 11, winning the game 104 - 99. Great finish, but not the focus of our lesson.
Despite the win and his own 25-point total, Jordan was angry that the man he guarded, LaBradford Smith, scored 37. Jordan told reporters,
"That was a very embarrassing situation for me. Evidently I didn’t respect the guy and he’s certainly capable of putting up some numbers, and he did. Offensively, it wasn’t going for me and I let that effect my defensive effort and that’s something I will improve on. I look forward to the challenge."
Jordan continued, telling reporters that Smith mocked him after the game saying,
"Nice game, Mike."
Now, Mike wants blood, and he didn’t have to wait long. The Bulls played the Bullets only one evening later, this time in Washington. As the legend goes, Jordan promised to score LaBradford’s total from the night prior - 37 points - in the first half. Now, this is a history lesson.
March 20, 1993
Jordan starts the first quarter a perfect 8 for 8 from the floor. At the end of the first, he has 19 points, 4 rebounds and 2 steals. With three seconds left in the second quarter, Jordan has 35, with two free throw attempts at the line.
Somehow, Jordan misses the second, finishing the half with “only” 36 points. The Bulls went on to rout the Bullets by 25. Jordan finished with 47 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals, while guarding Smith, holding him to 5 of 12 from the floor, for 15 points, no assists, and a turnover.
A ruthless performance. One for the history books, for certain. But the story gets much better. So. Much. Better.
In 1997, Michael Jordan admitted to making the whole thing up. LaBradford never said, "Nice game, Mike." LaBradford Smith never said a word. Jordan lied. Michael created a fake quote, a phony rivalry, just to fire himself up, so he could kill Little LaBradford and his Bullets the next night.
And in what might be the strangest wrinkle in this otherwise insane story, LaBradford Smith never denied the any of it. As a matter of fact, his Bullet teammates believed Jordan.
Don’t you get it? Michael Jordan would have to be crazy to make up a story like that, and a certifiable maniac to not only believe his own lie, but to act on it, and get his “revenge.”
It’s a good thing to remember: Michael Jordan would tear your heart out. And he’d show it to you.