There was a time, even though for only one season, a player always got the better of Jordan on the court.
Before dominating his era, Michael Jordan made his bones in the league as an ultimate competitor, an incredibly athletic rookie who feared no one on the court, not even the best out of his most notable predecessors such as Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. But shockingly, the man himself once admitted that there was one whom he wasn’t able to dismantle completely.
Mike just couldn’t do anything about him
In his 1998 book, « For the Love of the Game, » Jordan came clean and said that he was never starstruck with Bird and Magic during his rookie season with the Chicago Bulls. In the process, he was able to match them every time they crossed paths. However, that wasn’t the case with Julius Erving.
« When I came into the league [NBA], I wasn’t nearly as enamored with Magic Johnson and Larry Bird as I was with Julius Erving, » Jordan wrote in the book via Phil Star Global. « As a kid, my first nickname was ‘Magic’, but the only player I really knew about was Dr. J. »
MJ went on and confessed that his deep admiration for Dr. J hindered him from dominating his idol.
« I had a couple of good games against Philadelphia during my first season, » he added. « But I couldn’t do anything when I was matched up with Julius because I had so much admiration for him. I was just happy to be on the same floor. »
What’s the Doctor’s assessment?
Given the amount of competitiveness Jordan possessed, it’s kind of hard to believe that he once made such a bold admission like that. Atop that, MJ was not the type of player who was fond of giving a specific NBA superstar some props, especially in that manner. However, the Bulls’ record that season somehow backed Jordan’s statement as Erving and the Sixers thumped Chicago in all five meetings.
There’s no better way to lift the lid on the subject than to hear what Erving himself had to say about playing against a young Jordan. And Based on Dr. J’s comments, it appears MJ was telling the truth.
« There were three years where we overlapped. I caught him before he really hit his stride, » Erving said of Jordan. « He was scoring a lot of points, but he was trying to find himself…He was going to carry the torch, and he certainly desired to do it. He did a hell of a job at it. »
Having heard such rare comments from both legends, we now know that there was a time, even though for only one season, a player always got the better of Jordan on the court.