While there have been plenty of talented basketball players over the years, no one captured the world’s attention like Michael Jordan. His Airness wasn’t just a supremely talented star, though; he had an unshakeable will to win that drove him to become the greatest of all-time. Sometimes, however, he took things a bit too far.
Take, for example, Michael Jordan’s time in playing professional baseball. MJ was known to cheat in Yahtzee games against Terry Francona, just because he couldn’t stand the thought of losing.
Michael Jordan was an incredible talent and a proven winner
Even if you’ve never watched a basketball game before, you probably know that Michael Jordan was a pretty talented player. His Airness, however, also had a knack for winning.
Growing up, Jordan honed his competitive edge by going toe-to-toe with his brother Larry. While Michael suffered an early setback when he failed to make his high school’s varsity basketball team at the first attempt, he refused to give up; after a year dominating the JV competition and a timely grown spurt, he made the top team the following fall and became a star.
After graduation, MJ headed to the University of Carolina, and, as a freshman, he hit the game-winning shot to seal an NCAA Championship. His Airness, however, was just getting started.
When the 1984 NBA draft rolled around, Jordan joined the Chicago Bulls and promptly took the league by storm. Once he got past the Detroit Pistons and their ‘Jordan Rules,’ he won six championships in two separate three-peats; he also averaged more than 30 points per game for his career, claimed five NBA MVP awards, 10 scoring titles, and just about every honor you can imagine.
Quite simply, there’s a reason Jordan is widely considered the GOAT.
Talking trash, cheating, and doing whatever it took to win
When push came to shove, Michael Jordan usually had more than enough talent to win any competition. The Chicago Bulls star, however, wasn’t afraid to push the envelope if it meant he could gain an advantage.
During his career, Jordan developed a reputation as a ruthless trash-talker; whether he was practicing with his teammates or hitting the golf course with Bill Clinton, he was never afraid to engage in a war of words. That wasn’t the only too in His Airness’ arsenal, though.
Based on stories we’ve heard from his peers, Jordan didn’t have a problem cheating if that was what it took to win. During a visit to UNC teammate Buzz Peterson’s home, for example, he apparently tried to gain an unfair advantage in a card game against Peterson’s mother. MJ would also bet on Jumbotron races when he knew the winner in advance and bribed airport baggage handlers to help him win bets about who’s luggage would hit the carousel first.
Michael Jordan even cheated in Yahtzee against Terry Francona
In 1994, Michael Jordan infamously left basketball behind and tried his hand at professional baseball. His sabbatical on the diamond, however, didn’t change his will to win by any means necessary.
During Jordan’s time with the Birmingham Barons, he was managed by a young Terry Francona. When the team hit the road, they’d meet up on the bus, which had been dubbed the Jordan Cruiser, and play some Yahtzee. You can probably guess who came out on top.
“We’d play Yahtzee on every road trip on the bus,” Francona told ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian. ‘He’s the richest man in America, the best basketball player ever, and I’m making $29,000 a year. And he’s cheating at Yahtzee to take my money because he just can’t bear to lose.”
Michael Jordan’s sheer will to win helped him become arguably the greatest basketball player of all-time. It also meant he was someone you never wanted to play against, even if it was just a game of Yahtzee.