Even though it’s been a while since he stepped onto the hardwood, Michael Jordan’s legacy still towers over the NBA. You don’t need to have watched His Airness play to know all about his legendary basketball career. The Chicago Bulls star was an incredible talent, an insatiable winner, and a ruthless trash-talker.
Even when he was past his prime, Michael Jordan could still talk trash with the best of them. In fact, during his time with the Washington Wizards, the living legend told a young Richard Hamilton that he wasn’t good enough to for Jordan brand sneakers.
Michael Jordan was a legendary trash-talker
During his time on the court, Michael Jordan had an incredible skillset. While his basketball talent shouldn’t be overlooked, he had a notable, not-athletic gift: trash-talking.
MJ honed his will to win as a child, competing against his older brother Larry; with each step the sporting ladder, his competitive fire only increased. As we all saw in The Last Dance, Jordan was capable of taking anything personally and turning it into motivation.
In his eternal quest to win, Jordan was unafraid to talk trash to anyone who stood in his way. Whether you were a teammate—just ask Steve Kerr about crossing His Airness in practice—an opponent, or even Bill Clinton, MJ was ready to go for the jugular. If it helped him win, it was fair game.
Telling Richard Hamilton he wasn’t worthy to wear Jordans
In 1999, a young Richard Hamilton left the University of Connecticut and entered into the NBA draft. He joined the Wizards as the seventh-overall pick and headed south to Washington, D.C. The following January, Michael Jordan would join him in the nation’s capital, first as a part-owner and executive, then as a player.
While MJ wasn’t too popular with the rest of the Wizards, he was still a living legend. At one point, Hamilton and some of his teammates decided to take advantage of their opportunity and approach Jordan about a shoe deal.
“Me and a couple of the young guys would come up to him and say, ‘Hey, Mike. What do you think about putting us in the Brand Jordan collection,” Hamilton explained on The Jump, according to USA Today’s Rookie Wire. Jordan, however, wasn’t biting.
“He would look at me,” Hamilton continued, “and say, ‘Hey, Rip, my sneakers are for All-Stars.”
Richard Hamilton eventually got the last laugh, though
It’s rare that anyone gets the better of Michael Jordan, no matter the situation. Richard Hamilton, however, certainly managed to get the last laugh.
Although Hamilton left the Wizards after three seasons, he went on to have quite the NBA career. The guard joined the Detroit Pistons, where he teamed up with Chauncey Billups, Ben Wallace, and Tayshaun Prince; together, that core group would win the 2004 NBA title.
Hamilton spent nine campaigns in Detroit before ultimately seeing out his 14-year career with the Chicago Bulls. When all was said and done, he averaged 17.1 points, 3.4 assists, and 3.1 rebounds across 921 appearances. He also made three All-Star games, proving His Airness wrong, and eventually earned a deal with the Jordan brand.
Signing on that dotted line had to feel pretty great.
Stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference