I’m not here to argue about the greatest NBA player of all time. The numbers speak for itself. Also, everybody has a favorite player, and if you don’t like Michael Jordan, I can’t blame you. However, Air Jordan was special. He was a true magician in the league that was quite different back in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s.
If you’re not familiar with the Association from 30 years ago, here’s a video that will help you get some impressions. What we call a flagrant foul nowadays was just a regular move back in the ‘80s (no fracture, no foul), so fights between the players were a common scene. It’s no strange that Michael Jordan had to deal with some brutal defenders who didn’t care about his health at all.
In those circumstances, M.J. conceived a hatred for many guys around the league. Some duels were epic and bloody, so let’s take a look at 10 NBA players who Michael Jordan hated (and probably still hates).
10. John Starks
Back in 1993, the Chicago Bulls were looking for their second straight title. As a #2 seed, the Bulls swept the Hawks and Cavaliers before meeting the top-seeded New York Knicks in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Knicks won the first two games of the series, limiting the Bulls on 90 and 91 points, while Michael Jordan shot 3-for-18 in Game 2 thanks to John Starks’ terrific defensive job.
Starks and Jordan had verbal fights during those first two games, and M.J. was fired up to show John and the Knicks who’s the best player on the court. He dropped 54 points on New York in famous Game 4, the most against the Knicks in the playoffs by any player.
The Bulls won the series in six games, and the rest is history. Jordan was completely unstoppable, and Starks stated later that M.J. is undoubtedly the toughest guy he’s ever guarded.
9. Kwame Brown
Kwame Brown entered the league in 2001 as the first #1 draft pick to be selected straight out of high school. The Washington Wizards had high hopes when they selected Kwame, who turned out to be a pure bust. We have to mention that Michael Jordan wanted to see Brown in D.C because Kwame was a non-factor wherever he played during his 12-year NBA career.
Obviously, M.J. misjudged Kwame, so he had to compensate it somehow. Jordan reportedly bullied Kwame for his lack of skills whenever he got a chance to do it. Still, Kwame denied M.J. made him cry in his rookie days with the Wizards.
“Michael has never brought me to tears. Did he upset me a lot? Yeah, I mean, he’s a competitor. I think it’s much to do about nothing,” Brown said. “So many people want to make up stories about Michael Jordan, that he could have been the greatest guy in the world to me—they still would have made up something.”
8. Reggie Miller
Interestingly, Michael Jordan’s Bulls played the Indiana Pacers in the playoffs only once. It was in Mike’s final year in Chicago when the Bulls barely outlasted the Pacers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
M.J. was destroying Reggie in this series, averaging 31.7 points while allowing Miller to surpass a 20-point mark only twice. Still, Reggie never backed down from trash-talking Jordan. Therefore, it’s no strange that these two guys got into the fistfight during the 1992-93 regular season.
Mike didn’t like Reggie since Miller’s rookie season, and Reggie has quite an interesting story about their first duel.
7. Will Perdue
No illegal picks in Bulls’ practice and Will Perdue learned it hard way. According to Horace Grant, who won three championships with the Bulls, Michael Jordan punched Perdue during the scrimmage after Will was constantly setting illegal picks.
“I hate to tell the story but Will and I are still good friends… Typical Phil (Jackson) we run this play and Will set an illegal pick on MJ, and MJ said,’Will, don’t do that again.’ ‘Whatcha talking about’ that’s Will. MJ says alright; Phil says run it again. So naturally we run it two more times, illegal pick. MJ walks up to Will — boom. Lit him up. It was over; we grabbed Will — you’re not going to hurt MJ. MJ can take care of himself. The next day on the plane, Will gets on with this huge shiner.”
Will was drafted by the Bulls as No. 11 pick in 1988. He played five years alongside Michael Jordan, averaging only 3.9 points per game in that stretch.
6. Gary Payton
Gary Payton is a defensive legend. The Glove led the Seattle Supersonics to the 1996 NBA Finals where Jordan and the Bulls were too much, beating them in six games.
The Supersonics were on the verge of being swept, and M.J. was tallying 31.0 points on 46.0% shooting through the first three games of the series. Payton guarded Mike in the next three games, allowing him to average only 23.7 points on 36.7% shooting from the field.
“You’ve got to get back at Jordan,” Payton said. “You can’t back down on him. If you do, he’s like a wolf, he’s going to eat everything. He knew I wasn’t going to back down. I had to realize or see if he is really about being a dog, about this neighborhood stuff. I went at him. It was just me being me.”
5. Stacey King
If you haven’t heard of Stacey King, I can’t blame you. Stacey was drafted as No. 6 overall pick in 1989 and spent his first four years with the Bulls, winning three championships in that span. However, King was bullied by M.J. all the time, earning the nickname Doughboy, as he showed up at the training camp overweight.
“Big, fat guy. One rebound in three games. Power forward. Maybe they should call it powerless forward,” Jordan reportedly said on King. Stacey was keen to prove Jordan wrong, but he never did it, finishing his career in 1997 after playing just 11 games for Boston and Dallas.
4. Robert Parish
The Chief never seemed to have a beef with anybody. He spent 14 years with the Celtics, winning three championships in that span. Always known as a quiet guy, Parish finished his career in 1997, earning one more championship as Michael Jordan’s teammate in Chicago.
Robert and M.J. had a clash during the practice. Mike wanted to show Parish who’s an alpha dog in Chicago, but the Chief wasn’t afraid. On Mike’s threats that he’s going to kick Robert’s ass, Parish calmly responded – No, you really aren’t. The mutual disrespect was obvious in this case.
“Now Michael was great in his era, but you think about this: Michael didn’t beat great teams, in my opinion,” Parish told Elvin Hayes on In The Post on SB Nation Radio. “When Larry, Kevin and myself were in our heyday, he couldn’t beat us. He couldn’t get past the Pistons until Joe Dumars and Isiah Thomas got old. He couldn’t beat the Lakers in their prime.”
“When he beat Phoenix, they only had one Hall of Famer- that was Barkley,” Parish said. “When he beat Seattle, they had one Hall of Famer: Payton. When he beat Portland, they had one Hall of Famer: Clyde Drexler. And he played with three Hall of Famers: Scottie, Dennis Rodman and himself; that’s three Hall of Famers on that team. Now don’t get me wrong, Michael was great in his era. But the greatest of all time?”
3. Detroit “Bad Boys” Pistons
Before winning his first NBA championship, Michael Jordan was a looser. Big time. In his first three seasons, the Bulls couldn’t get out of the first round and were swept by the Celtics twice. In 1988, the Bulls lost to the Pistons in the conference semifinals, while the Bad Boys eliminated Jordan’s Chicago in the conference finals in the next two years.
The Pistons had a special defensive approach called The Jordan Rules. They were so physical with Mike, trying to put him on the floor every time he was attacking the rim. The Bad Boys were ruthless, establishing themselves as the toughest defensive unit in the NBA, but Michael Jordan was always their favorite victim.
I’m pretty sure Mike hates all the Pistons besides Dennis Rodman who helped him to win his second three-peat. Howsoever, a couple of guys deserves some special animosity from M.J.
2. Bill Laimbeer
Bill Laimbeer is the dirtiest basketball player of all time. Period. There should be an award for dirtiness named after him. Bill couldn’t stand Jordan, and Mike hated Laimbeer. In this video, you can hear everything you need to know, but I highly recommend you watch every possible video out there that includes Laimbeer.
Just look at Bill’s nicknames – The Prince of Darkness and His Heinous. Enough said. Laimbeer was a soul of the Detroit “Bad Boys” Pistons.
1. Isiah Thomas
If Bill Laimbeer was a soul of the Bad Boys, Isiah Thomas was their heart. Thomas spent his whole career in the Motor City, averaging 19.2 points and 9.3 assists per game. He’s a 12-time All-Star and five-time All-NBA who led the Pistons to back-to-back titles in 1989 and 1990.
Probably everybody knows the story about Isiah’s omitting from the 1992 Dream Team, and I don’t want to talk about it. Was it Jordan or Magic’s decision, I don’t care. The crucial thing happened in the 1991 Eastern Conference Finals when Isiah led his team off the court with seven seconds left on the clock.
That’s right, Isiah Thomas didn’t want to shake hands with the new king. It was one of the most disrespectful and embarrassing moments in NBA history.
Jordan and Isiah were huge rivals. After years of suffering, M.J. finally vanquished the Bad Boys, setting their reign to the end. Interestingly, these two foes haven’t met each other in the postseason after that 1991 conference finals.
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