Named the 2019 Citizen of the Carolinas, Charlotte Hornets president Fred Whitfield goes a long way back with Michael Jordan.
We’ve heard countless stories about Michael Jordan and his competitive spirit. We heard Will Smith describe MJ as someone who even competes while drinking water. The man has a rabid desire to be the best and most successful at whatever he does. This manifests itself in various ways.
Sometimes, it takes the form of trash talk on the field to gain a psychological edge on opponents. In his formative years, it meant working hard enough to make the varsity team after ‘getting cut’ by the coach. In college, it was about competing with North Carolina’s High School Player of the Year – Buzz Peterson.
Michael Jordan destroyed his friends’ non-Nike apparel in the 80s
Fred Whitfield has been a friend of Michael Jordan for over 40 years now. A native of Greensboro, Whitfield played basketball at Campbell. He stayed connected to basketball throughout his career after college – much of it can be attributed to his friendship with Michael Jordan.
Whitfield narrates this incident that underlines just how competitive MJ was:
“In the late ’80s, Jordan looked in [Bobcats president Fred] Whitfield’s closet and saw that half of it was filled with Nike and the other half filled with Puma. Jordan bundled the Puma gear in his arms, tossing it onto the living room floor. He took a knife from the kitchen and cut it to shreds.”
“‘Call Howard White (his contact at Nike)’, he told Fred, ‘and tell him to replace it all’. Same thing happened with George [Koehler, another close friend]. He bought a pair of New Balance shoes he loved, and Jordan saw them one day and insisted he hand them over. Call Howard White at Nike.“
“He demands that loyalty,” Whitfield simply said.
This incident is right in line with everything we’ve heard about Jordan. There are similar tales of competitiveness from all around the greatest in sports history – Muhammad Ali and Cristiano Ronaldo just to name a couple.