Throughout the legendary years he spent in the NBA, Michael Jordan didn’t lose very often. Whenever he did, he came back and beat the team/player worse than they beat him. However, in a pickup game during his career, Jordan once saw a high school sophomore block his shot. MJ, of course, ultimately got the best of the player, but he also later signed him to his Jordan Brand.
So, who was this high school sophomore? It was 2000 No. 3 overall pick Darius Miles.
Darius Miles was a top NBA draft pick out of high school
Miles was a superstar while still in high school and was so good that he even skipped college ball and went straight to the NBA. The LA Clippers then selected him No. 3 overall in the 2000 NBA draft.
Miles found limited success in his first couple of seasons. He earned All-Rookie honors by averaging 9.4 points and 5.9 rebounds. However, he couldn’t quite take that next step. The star from East St. Louis, Illinois, averaged 9.5 points and 5.5 rebounds during the 2001-02 season and then saw the Clippers trade him to the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2002.
Miles averaged 9.2 points and 5.4 rebounds for the Cavs in 2002-03 but later got traded to the Portland Trail Blazers during that next season. He ultimately played in 145 games for the Blazers in parts of three seasons before not playing at all in 2006-07 and 2007-08 due to a knee injury. He then only played in 34 more career games with the Memphis Grizzlies in 2008-09.
The best year of his career came during that 2005-06 campaign when he averaged 14.0 points and 4.6 rebounds in 40 games for the Blazers.
Since then, many people have wondered if Miles could have become an NBA superstar had his career not been shortened due to injury. He certainly had the potential to do it, and Jordan even saw it.
He blocked Michael Jordan during a pickup game
Miles hasn’t played in the NBA in over 10 years. However, he still has fascinating stories to tell.
While recently talking to Rich Eisen, Miles shared the story of the time he blocked Jordan at a basketball camp. In fact, Miles was only a high school sophomore and was just a counselor at the camp.
“I got on the court first, and everybody was matching up, and then nobody walked over there with Mike. So, I walked over there, and I was the youngest guy there (in the pickup game),” he said on the May 21 episode of The Rich Eisen Show.
He continued: “[Everybody was] scared to guard him and I just accepted the challenge. I was a sophomore in high school, long, lanky, and I accepted the challenge. I blocked his shot the first kind of two times. I tipped it, then I blocked it. … He said everything to me (after the blocked shots); I can’t really repeat it.”
Jordan didn’t let him block any more of his shots after that, though.
“I didn’t block it or tip it no more, and he scored everything else,” he said. “… He just got to going to work, and there wasn’t nothing I could do no more.”
Michael Jordan later signed Darius Miles to his Jordan Brand
Once Miles reached the NBA, he signed with Jordan Brand, and as The Undefeated put it, MJ “spoiled” him “with every pair of Air Jordans imaginable.”
Miles told Eisen he thinks Jordan signed him because he saw that Miles never backed down from a challenge.
“I think that’s why he respected me, that’s why he put me on his brand; I think that’s why we got the relationship to this day,” he said. “… He respected me accepting the challenge from him.”
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference