Michael Jordan Once Took a Young Rapper’s Sneakers and Threw Them Away, Simply Because They Belonged to the Wrong Brand

During his time on the NBA stage, Michael Jordan earned a reputation as one of the most competitive men to ever set foot on the hardwood. That intensity, it seems, wasn’t limited to the basketball court; it also extends to Jordan sneakers. Just ask rapper Bow Wow about that.

As he explained in an interview with Desus and Mero, Bow Wow used to stay at Michael Jordan’s house when he would pass through Chicago. On one occasion, though, the young rapper woke up to find His Airness had taken his sneakers and was preparing to throw them in the garbage.

Michael Jordan earned his reputation as a fearless competitor

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As anyone who ever saw him in action can confirm, Michael Jordan was an incredibly talented athlete. Raw skill, however, was only part of the story; His Airness needed to win and willed himself to the top of the mountain.

As a child, MJ cut his teeth by battling against his brother, Larry. His toughness was then put to an early test when he failed to make his high school’s varsity basketball team on the first attempt. Michael, of course, didn’t give up there.

Jordan dominated the JV competition and made the varsity team the following fall; he’d go on to become a McDonald’s All-American and earn a scholarship to the University of North Carolina. There, he’d win an NCAA championship as a freshman and emerge as a legitimate star.

As MJ’s resume grew in the NBA—six championships, five MVP titles, and plenty of other awards speak for themselves—his reputation as a ruthless competitor became a part of sports lore. Jordan simply refused to lose; he’d do everything from trash-talking his own teammates, working out in the wee hours of the morning, and even cheating to come out on top.

Throwing out Bow Wow’s shoes because they were the wrong brand

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Michael Jordan’s desire to be the best apparently extends to his sneaker brand, too. Rapper Bow Wow experienced that reality firsthand.

During an interview with Desus and Mero, Bow Wow explained that he was always an Allen Iverson fan; that’s why he wore number three in Like Mike, rather than 23. That affinity for the Answer, however, eventually landed the rapper in hot water with His Airness.

“Every time my tour came through the Chi, I would just stay at [the Jordan] house,” Bow Wow recalled. “I went over there with my AIs on, I woke up, and they was gone. I remember. This is a true story. Mr. Jordan came in there, I was sleeping on the floor of Marcus’ room, Marcus on the bed, whatever, he kicked me up like, ‘Hey, all ya’ll wake up.’ I swear to god. ‘Whose [sneakers are] these? And who has Duke shorts on in my house?”

For better or worse, the rapper decided to own up to his wardrobe choices. Then, Jordan made it clear that he was the top dog of the house.

I was like, ‘Oh, those are mine, Mr. Jordan.’ He was like, ‘Yeah? I figured.’ He threw ’em out. ‘Aye yo, John Michael [Jordan’s trusted security guard], get him some Jumpmans now.’ And that was the story right there. Absolutely. Swear to god on my life.”

Bow Wow, remembering how Michael Jordan threw his sneakers away

Destroying wardrobes was nothing new for Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan at a press conference celebrating the 30th anniversary of Air Jordan sneakers. | Catherine Steenkeste/Getty Images

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When you hear Bow Wow’s story, it’s easy to think that Michael Jordan pulled off an isolated power move; plenty of parents, after all, like to joke around with their children’s friends. His Airness, however, is apparently pretty well versed in destroying non-Jordan sneakers.

“In the late ’80s, Jordan looked in [Bobcats president Fred] Whitfield’s closet and saw that half of it was filled with Nike and the other half filled with Puma,” Wright Thompson wrote in an ESPN story for MJ’s 50th birthday. “Jordan bundled the Puma gear in his arms, tossing it onto the living room floor. He took a knife from the kitchen and cut it to shreds. Call Howard White, his contact at Nike, he told Fred, and tell him to replace it all. Same thing happened with George [Koehler, another close friend]. He bought a pair of New Balance shoes he loved, and Jordan saw them one day and insisted he hand them over. Call Howard White at Nike.”

Destroying someone’s property—even if you’re going to replace it with Nike gear—isn’t the nicest thing to do. When you’re Michael Jordan, though, everything is fair game in pursuit of the top spot.