As we saw in The Last Dance, Michael Jordan wasn’t just an incredibly talented athlete; he was also fiercely competitive. His Airness was able to take any insult or slight—whether it was genuine or perceived—and turn it into motivation. While that attitude helped him reach basketball’s highest heights, it also caused some issues along the way.
While the instances of Jordan clashing with his own teammates are well documented, he didn’t exactly mellow out in retirement. During his time as the Washington Wizards owner, MJ once traded away a player who dared to trash-talk him.
Michael Jordan was nothing if not competitive
In retrospect, it’s easy to look at Michael Jordan as a singular talent who was simply better than every other basketball player. While that might be true to a certain extent, he also had an incredible will to win.
From an early age, Jordan honed that competitive fire battling against his brother, Larry. It was famously put to the test in high school when Michael failed to make the varsity basketball team at the first attempt; after a year on the JV squad, he made the cut and eventually turned into a McDonald’s All-American. He then went on to the University of North Carolina, where he won an NCAA national championship as a freshman.
In the NBA, Jordan immediately turned into a star. Once he and his Chicago Bulls teammates were able to get past the Detroit Pistons, his winning ways continued; His Airness would claim six titles in two separate three-peats, dominating the global basketball landscape.
Although His Airness had plenty of natural talent, his drive helped make him a legend. As we saw during The Last Dance, Jordan was nothing if not motivated; he could use something as simple as an opponent telling him “good game as bulletin board material.
Laron Profit trash-talked MJ and paid the price
After his second retirement from the NBA, Michael Jordan joined the Washington Wizards organization as an owner and executive. Despite trading sneakers for a suit, his competitive fire didn’t diminish.
According to Rip Hamilton, who recently appeared on the All The Smoke podcast, Jordan would occasionally take to the court and scrimmage with the team. During one of those occasions, Laron Profit apparently beat His Airness to the hole; in a moment of confidence, he told Jordan that “You can’t guard me with them old-ass knees.”
Jordan, it seems, never forgot that remark. “He was heated to the point that when I went to my exit meeting—because he was the president at the time—I went into my exit meeting and he was like, ‘OK, Rip, you know, your man, your buddy … he’s outta here,” Hamilton explained, according to Bleacher Report.
In August 2001, the Wizards did trade Profit to the Orlando Magic. While it probably wasn’t entirely related to that incident—the guard barely made an impact at the professional level—calling out His Airness probably didn’t help his cause.
Michael Jordan never treated his teammates with kid gloves
At this point, it’s impossible to know exactly why Michael Jordan decided to trade Laron Profit. We can be sure, however, that His Airness wasn’t the type to treat anyone with kid gloves, even if they were on his side.
During his playing career, Jordan (literally) wouldn’t pull any punches. He got in a fight with Steve Kerr during a practice and wasn’t afraid of trash-talking his own teammates. In one instance, His Airness reportedly ruined Rodney McCray’s career by calling him a loser during a scrimmage.
Whether you were a member of the Chicago Bulls, an opposition player, or one of Michael Jordan’s employees, one thing was always clear: if you mess with His Airness, you’ll eventually pay the price.