Michael Jordan won 10 scoring titles with the Chicago Bulls. He routinely embarrassed his opponents with incredible scoring performances that left fans in awe of his basketball skills.
Most defenders feared Jordan and ran away from guarding him. However, there were a few players who weren’t scared of the Bulls superstar and enjoyed matching up against him.
One of those players was two-time NBA champion Vernon Maxwell, who used to annoy Jordan when the Bulls and Houston Rockets faced each other. Even though he was a superb defender, Maxwell was a victim of Jordan’s scoring prowess on several occasions. He even tried to punch the six-time champion because he was getting tired of being disrespected.
Michael Jordan and Vernon Maxwell always got into it
Whenever Michael Jordan and Vernon Maxwell went head-to-head, the two guards always got into it. The former Rockets star shared a story with Fox 26 Houston’s Mark Berman about when he and the Bulls icon came “cheek to cheek” during a game in the early ’90s.
“We were in Houston, and he spun on me and went baseline. All I saw was that Jumpman logo on the bottom of his shoes when he was dunking,” Maxwell said. “I just took off running back down the floor, and he ran up behind me and hit me on my butt. That’s when I was like, ‘Man, don’t put your damn hands on me. You’re going to embarrass me like that? Don’t come up and touch me.’ That’s when we got cheek to cheek. I was just telling him, ‘Don’t disrespect me. You already dunked on me.’ “
Rockets fans loved Maxwell because he never backed down from Jordan. He knew the All-Star guard was a terrific player, but he didn’t fear him as the rest of the league did.
Kenny Smith, who played with Maxwell on the Rockets, once said Mad Max was the only player he saw stand up to Jordan. The current TNT analyst told a great story about how Maxwell tried to punch the five-time MVP because he was sick of getting scored on.
Vernon Maxwell took a swing on Michael Jordan
During one Bulls-Rockets game, Vernon Maxwell told Michael Jordan twice that he would fight him if he scored again. According to Kenny Smith, Maxwell felt disrespected because Jordan was scoring the ball too easily.
After Jordan scored on Maxwell on one possession, the Rockets swingman lost it and tried to punch His Airness. He lost his cool because the Bulls legend was toying with him on offense.
Maxwell and Reggie Miller are two players who loved going up against Jordan and didn’t mind fighting him. For the most part, though, MJ got the best of the guys who thought they could go toe to toe with him.
The Rockets won back-to-back titles in ’94 and ’95
After winning his third straight title in 1993 over the Phoenix Suns, Michael Jordan retired from the NBA. With MJ out of the picture, the Rockets won back-to-back titles in 1994 and 1995.
Kenny Smith believes the Rockets would’ve defeated the Bulls even if Jordan didn’t retire. Houston went 5-1 against Chicago during the team’s first three championship seasons.
It would have been fun to watch Jordan’s Bulls go up against Hakeem Olajuwon’s Rockets in the Finals. Unfortunately, we’ll never know how that series would have turned out.