Trash-talker emeritus, Michael Jordan spared no one and even less if you were another top player. Recently, a wild anecdote about the Dream Team surfaced… and clearly, we wouldn’t have liked to be in the shoes of the basketball players concerned.
The Barcelona Olympics Dream Team was a crazy team, assembled from the best stars in the orange ball, but that also meant it was brimming with oversized egos. However, it is difficult to win when you have Michael Jordan by your side, the back of the Bulls then being the best player on the planet. It was therefore better to go straight with him, in order to win his good graces.
Nevertheless, even if his teammates took this approach, it did not protect them from the sometimes wild trash-talking of the Chicagoan. Legendary sportswriter Jackie MacMullan recently addressed how he can haze his teammates. Those who were not yet titled at the time were having a bad time, like during training for the American selection just before the Olympics:
Jordan showing no mercy to unbanded Team USA players
Charles Barkley was heading for the hoop, while Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen were already there, taking shots. Another Dream Team practice was about to begin…until Jordan stopped his teammates. “Get yourself another basket, Charles.” He turned to Patrick Ewing. “You too, Patrick. Scottie, you can stay”.
Future Hall of Famers looked at MJ in bewilderment. “Here, it’s only for champions!” Jordan said then. “Not you, Clyde (Drexler, editor’s note). Go somewhere else to train. Five-time champion Magic immediately realized what was going on. He declared the corner of the gymnasium, “the bagged basket”.
No, but what violence from His Airness…
The worst part of all this is that at that time, the number 23 still had only two rings to his credit. Ironically, it was the same Jordan who had put Drexler in the Finals, a few weeks earlier. The Blazers star had thus seen him turn to nearly 36 points and 7 assists on average, with in particular the famous “Shrug Game” during the first round which had seen him plant 38 points in a single half. Absolutely unstoppable!
Barkley and Ewing were not spared afterward either, as the Chuckster suffered a similar fate a year later in the 1992-93 Finals. All after announcing that God had spoken to him and would have said to him: “it’s your turn to be champion”… As for the pivot of the Knicks, he regularly came up against the Bulls in the playoffs. It was only when MJ was retired that he was able to go to the Finals, without however succeeding in winning a ring.
They might be orange ball superstars, but that didn’t stop unringed players from getting badly hazed by Michael Jordan. The worst thing is that the athletes mentioned ended up without any title, with the exception of Clyde Drexler who went to get his with Houston.