Even though it’s been quite a while since he hit the NBA hardwood, Michael Jordan still looms large in popular culture. While his on-court ability obviously played a role in his fame, His Airness is also remembered as a relentless competitor and a fearsome trash-talker. Just ask Darrick Martin about that.
Although Martin might not be a household name, he still played a role in an iconic MJ moment. Prompted by some verbal warfare, Jordan checked himself back into an NBA game and produced an epic comeback. Not only did that earn the Chicago Bulls a victory, but it also put the opposing point guard in his place.
Michael Jordan and Darrick Martin first crossed paths on the ‘Space Jam’ set
While Jordan’s crushing (trash-talk) blow came on the NBA hardwood, his connection to Martin started a bit earlier. The two men first crossed paths in Hollywood while His Airness was filming Space Jam.
During his time on the backlot, MJ needed to stay in shape, and Warner Brothers erected what became known as the Jordan Dome. The inflatable bubble covered a basketball court, workout facilities, and anything else the living legend needed. It also became home to some epic pickup games.
As a UCLA alum, Martin was able to join in on some of those contests. On one occasion, he even got to sink the game-winning bucket and throw some trash talk in Jordan’s direction.
“I commence to talking the best trash ever,” the guard recalled during a “Who’s the Ross” appearance preserved on Youtube. “‘Michael, you get out of my town. You’re not even the real MJ. My man Magic Johnson is the MJ.’ I’m just going on and on.”
Before the day ended, though, Jordan got his revenge. His team beat Martin’s squad, and MJ threw some trash talk back in the guard’s direction.
His Airness later taught Darrick Martin a lesson about poking the bear
After that Hollywood encounter, both Jordan and Martin went in their separate directions. Before too long, though, they reunited on the NBA hardwood.
During the early days of the 1995-96 campaign, Chicago headed to Vancouver at the end of a long road trip. Taking advantage of some potentially heavy legs, the Grizzlies jumped out to a comfortable lead, which provided Martin a chance to trash-talk his old foe.
“Last two minutes of the game, I went by, made a lay-up, got an and-one, and put us up, I believe eight,” the guard recalled on Sportsnet’s Reach Deep. “So I walked by the bench and told [Jordan,] ‘Hey, I told you we were gonna beat you tonight.'”
As you might expect, MJ didn’t appreciate that comment. While the star was already sitting on the bench with his shoes untied and a towel over his head, he looked at Phil Jackson and checked back into the game. His Airness took over, and when the dust had settled, the Bulls left Vancouver with a 94-88 win.
“As he scored the game-winner, so to speak, he’s looking at the bench. I was on the bench on the time,” Martin continued. “He’s like, ‘Look, little guy.’ And he said a few explicit words to me. ‘I told you about talking trash to me.'”
Michael Jordan was no stranger to teaching lessons about respect
While Martin came out on the losing end that evening, he wasn’t the only person to suffer at the hands of His Airness. In fact, Jordan even taught his own agent a lesson about respect.
“We had a dinner meeting, and I couldn’t get a word in,” MJ explained during a 2005 interview with Cigar Aficionado. “The meal was on his company bill. Anytime he orders wine, or orders anything, he checks the price. But that night, he was taking time out from what we were talking about to make sure about the price.”
Eventually, Jordan became frustrated with his inability to get a word in edgewise. To that end, he decided to use that concern about price points to send a message.
“So now I say, ‘Give me the most expensive wine, and he’s picking up the tab,’” Jordan continued. “Then, I say, ‘Every time you interrupt what we’re talking about, I’m going to order another bottle.’ When I started ordering the ’61s, I quieted him right down, and we got through the conversation. That is a true story.”
Whether you’re an opponent or on his side, the message is clear: Don’t mess with Michael Jordan. He’ll be more than happy to follow through with a lesson.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference