Michael Jordan may be known for his relentless ability to trash talk just as much as he is known for his prowess on the court. Whether facing a teammate, an opponent, coach, or fan, Jordan pulled no punches when cutting down anyone to prop himself up.
As such, when Jordan commends another player’s ability to talk trash, he is doing so with expertise.
Who was the best trash talker Michael Jordan faced?
At a 2015 Flight School, Jordan was asked about the best trash-talker he ever faced. With no hesitation, he spouted off an unsurprising answer for anyone who has followed trash talk through NBA history, Larry Bird.
“He talks a lot of trash,” Jordan said. “Good trash, though, not dirty trash.” The two NBA stars go back to Jordan’s earliest days in the league when Bird and the Celtics were the talk of the Eastern Conference.
Stories of Bird’s ability to tear his opponents down with little more than his mouth have been passed down since his playing days, and Jordan knows this better than anyone. The two have been close friends since their playing days.
Larry Bird’s legendary trash talk
Bird helped dominate the ’80s in large part due to his friendly rivalry with Magic Johnson. While other teams snuck in victories, the Lakers and Celtics were the talks of the town for much of the decade.
Bird’s sharpshooting and on-court leadership were big reasons why the Celtics reached the heights they did. In 13 NBA seasons, Bird averaged 24 points, nearly two steals, 10 rebounds, and six assists per game. He may be labeled as a shooter, but threes were rare in the NBA, and Bird did a little bit of everything.
As much as his skills and his shooting, however, Bird is known for being an expert trash talker. With a psychic ability to call his shots, Bird was relentless. He even got into Dennis Rodman’s head when the eccentric power forward played for the Detroit Pistons by constantly claiming that nobody was guarding him when he scored over Rodman.
Bird didn’t need important games to talk trash; he would do it during meaningless times. He was notorious for entering the locker room and asking who was ready to come in second place. After winning the first three contests in three years, Bulls shooter Craig Hodges won the contest and asked Bird wanted to challenge him. Bird savagely responded via the media, saying, “Yeah, at the end of the Bulls’ bench.”
Jordan’s trash talk
Jordan’s career could be reviewed by even a casual observer. He was a six-time NBA Champion and multiple-MVP. He was, perhaps, the greatest clutch performer in NBA history with a penchant of humiliating his opponents in heartbreaking ways. His mouth could be just as deadly as his shot.
From poking fun at the height of Muggsy Bogues so much that it allegedly ruined the 5-foot-3 player’s confidence to the time he called teammate a loser during the last year he ever played, Jordan may have been more mean-spirited than Bird.
The Celtics star would talk about the game; Jordan would talk about anything. Chris Webber told a story of his Washington Bullets playing in a five-game series with the Bulls and seeing Jordan pass by the locker room with a lit cigar, asking who was going to check him, then winning the game.
The following game, Jordan strategically lit a cigar right by the Bullets’ bus and psyching them out again. It was almost like, ‘I lit the cigar,’ ” Webber said via USA Today. “I’m celebrating already. This is just a formality, you guys getting on the court tonight.”
Both Jordan and Bird were relentless in their own ways, but they could pull it off because they could back it up with their game. Whether getting in their opponents’ faces or doing so without a word, they could make their trash talk just as deadly as any defense. The two respect each other because of this.