From NBA.com staff reports
Hall of Famer Michael Jordan recently told the Associated Press during a promotional tour for the NBA 2K14 video game that he thought that in his prime, he could beat LeBron James in a game of one-on-one.
Jordan also spoke recently with ESPN and explained the differences between the modern game and the NBA of his day. In the course of that discussion, Jordan recalled a story about how he schooled then-prep phenom (and current Bucks guard) O.J. Mayo at Jordan’s basketball camp several years ago. According to Jordan, Mayo talked a little too much trash, which brought out the fiercely competitive side of MJ in the midst of the camp.
“I had never met him [before]” Jordan told ESPN, “In front of my camp, he starts this thing about ‘you can’t guard me … you can’t do this.’ I’ve got my campers here, so obviously I can’t really go where I want to go because they’re in my camp. So, I stop the camp and send the kids to bed. We go back to playing and he starts his whole thing [of] ‘you can’t guard me, you can’t do this.’ Finally I said: ‘Look, dude. You may be the best high school player, but I’m the best player in the world. So, from this point on, it’s a lesson.’ “
In case you’re looking for video proof of what Jordan is talking about … well, thankfully, that exists, too. LarryBrownSports.com was somehow able to dig up video of the Mayo-Jordan showdown, which includes MJ hitting a baseline, fadeaway (apparent) game-winner in Mayo’s face.
Mayo, for his part, didn’t back away from tale. In an interview with Bucks.com after Wednesday’s practice, Mayo corroborated Jordan’s story … and added some great detail that can’t be missed. The fine folks over at The Point Forward transcribed the entire interview, but here are a few choice quotes:
“Obviously it’s any ballplayer’s dream to play against Mike. I couldn’t tell you how many times I did his move after the Finals, the next day at the rec center and stuff. I got a few buckets. The campers knew I was the only high school kid so they got rowdy a little bit, we got a little bit of jawing. We played two games, I think we split one and one, it was a team game.
“Then he said, ‘OK, now let me handle my business.’ He looked me in my face and said that. I’m like, ‘What you mean?’ So he said, ‘I need all the campers and everybody to leave the gym.’
“We continued playing pick-up. Mike was Mike. He was jawing a little bit, really getting into me defensively. He’s backing me down. He said, ‘Better scream for mama. Ma-ma. Ma-ma.’ Hit the famous fadeaway on me. I said, ‘OK, OK, you’ve got it going.’
“At the end of the day, people ask, ‘Why would you talk smack to GOAT? Why would you talk smack to Mike?’ At the end of the day, it’s still basketball. You definitely respect everything Mike’s done for the game. But when you’re a young buck and you get a chance to go at the top, I kind of had the mentality that I had everything to gain and nothing to lose. Mike did what he had to do.”