During his time on the court, Michael Jordan made quite a name for himself. In addition to his incredible basketball talent, His Airness was a prolific trash-talker; whether he was chirping a fan or his own teammates, the Bulls legend never held back. One day, however, Magic Johnson decided to give MJ a taste of his own medicine.
During the summer of 1992, Magic Johnson made the fateful decision to try to talk trash to the one and only Michael Jordan. Within a matter of moments, the Lakers guard realized that he had made a massive mistake.
Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan joined forces on the Dream Team
These days, Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan both stand tall as living NBA legends. In the early 1990s, however, the two men were at much different points in their careers.
Johnson had made a made for himself at Michigan State and entered the NBA as the first-overall pick of the 1979 NBA draft. He landed within Los Angeles and, suiting up alongside Kareem-Abdul Jabbar, became a star. With his unique blend of size and ball-handling abilities, Magic became a focal point of the Showtime Lakers.
In 1991, Johnson stunned the world by announcing that he had HIV and was retiring from professional basketball. Despite that decision, he still suited up for the 1992 All-Star Game and headed to the summer Olympics as a member of the Dream Team.
As for Michael Jordan, his career needs no introduction. By the time the 1992 Olympics rolled around, His Airness was in peak form; he had finally overcome the Detroit Pistons, started winning NBA titles, and was still at the peak of his powers.
Magic Johnson called out His Airness and immediately paid the price
Leading up to the 1992 Olympics, the Dream Team played some fiercely-competitive scrimmages; with that many legends in one place, every practice was like an all-star game.
During one of those scrimmages, Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan found themselves on opposite teams. With his side ahead, the Lakers guard decided to engage in a bit of psychological warfare with his opponent.
While Magic wasn’t much of a trash-talker, he tapped MJ on the shoulder and said, “If you don’t turn into Air Jordan, we’re going to blow you out today.” As soon as those words left his lips, Johnson realized that he made a massive mistake.
“His eyes got big,” Johnson recounted on Jimmy Kimmel Live. “He broke the huddle, he hit a three, and he’s looking at me [with his tongue out.]” Jordan kept scoring and eventually unleashed what Magic called one of the three greatest shots in NBA history, a 360 dunk over David Robinson.
“The moral is you should not talk trash to Michael Jordan,” Kimmel concluded.”
Michael Jordan was able to turn anything into motivation
Based on his natural talent, Michael Jordan could have been an all-time great simply by showing up. His Airness, however, had a secret weapon: he was a fierce competitor with the ability to use anything as motivation.
As we saw during The Last Dance, MJ had no problem taking things personally. Whether it was LaBradford Smith exploding for 37 points (even if he didn’t actually say “Nice game, Mike) or Karl Malone, taking home the NBA MVP award, Jordan couldn’t stand being second-best. That inner fire, for better or worse, made him the star we all know today.
During the lead-up to the 1992 summer Olympics, Magic Johnson felt that fire firsthand. He might have been an NBA legend, but no one could call out Michael Jordan without paying the price.