Michael Jordan Didn’t Waste Any Time Putting James Worthy in His Place at UNC
If you’re an NBA fan, you’re probably familiar with Michael Jordan’s time in the Association. Beyond his incredible on-court success, MJ established himself as one of the fiercest competitors around. Whether that meant trash-talking his own teammates, cheating at cards, or getting inside of the other team’s head, His Airness wasn’t messing around.
Those habits weren’t limited to the professional ranks, though. Even during his earliest days at the University of North Carolina, the future legend wasn’t messing around.
Don’t believe us? Just allow James Worthy to explain.
Even as a freshman, Michael Jordan had no problem talking smack to his teammates
For better or worse, most sports teams follow something of a hierarchy based on seniority. During his time in Chapel Hill, however, Michael Jordan wasn’t going to wait his turn.
“Michael Jordan,” James Worthy remembered on the Knuckleheads podcast. “He wasn’t arrogant, but, man, was he confident. He was confident, right? Like, he came in talking. Like, he came in, like, you know, just talking crap all the time.”
As if that wasn’t enough, the freshman even went after Worthy himself. No one, it seems, was safe from his gaze.
“Like, after practice, you know how college practices are. When they’re over, you ready to get off the court and get on back,” Worthy continued. ” And so I would be walking off the court after about two and a half hours of practice, and here comes Michael. A freshman, you know, bullying me. You know, pushing me back on. Like, ‘Where you going, young fella?’ Calling me young fella. ‘Where you going? Let’s play. Let’s play a game to five.'”
Jordan was all about testing his own skills, according to Worthy
When you hear of a freshman arriving on campus and challenging his new teammates, you might think that’s an egocentric move. In Worthy’s mind, though, Jordan wasn’t trying to show people up. Instead, he simply wanted to be the best he could be.
“He always wanted to measure against the best,” the forward explained. “And at the time, I was the best, you know? I don’t know if you guys saw his documentary, The Last Dance. You know, I made a statement. I said, you know, ‘S***, I was better than Michael Jordan for about three weeks.’ You know?”
Through that lens, it’s a bit more understandable how MJ managed to mesh with his college teammates. Was the freshman a bit brash? Of course, but he also had the talent and drive to back it up.
And, above all else, game recognizes game.