When NBA legend Michael Jordan revealed that he had never watched an NBA game before making his debut for the Chicago Bulls
Most of us NBA fans got into the game because of our love for basketball. However, the thing that made us stay was either our love for a team, or a player. Most of the players who have been in the league for the last 30 or more years, have grown up watching basketball and admiring players before them.
More often than not, watching NBA games while growing up, or while learning to play basketball really influences our game. We either consciously or subconsciously try to imitate what we see in the matches and copy our favorite players. However, the same wasn’t the case with one of the greatest basketball players of all time, Michael Jordan.
Michael Jordan grew up not having watched a single NBA game
What may come as a shocking surprise Michael Jordan never watched an NBA game before he made his debut for the Bulls. Growing up in North Carolina, Jordan only used to get baseball, NASCAR, and college basketball on TV.
However, his Airness viewed this as a positive, as it would give him a chance to develop his own individual game and identity.
During a 1997 interview with Tony Gervino and Russ Bengtson of SLAM Magazine, MJ got candid about why he never watched an NBA game before 1984.
I played like it was something I had never experienced before, Jordan said. That was a great way to enter into the whole situation. You don’t have to pattern your game behind someone because you’ve never paid attention to it. Other than David Thompson or someone like that. So you create your own identity without really knowing who you would be patterning your game after.
The Bulls legend considered SG David Thompson as his idol while growing up in North Carolina. The only player that inspired Jordan to be a basketball player.
Michael Jordan’s childhood idol: David Thompson
Thompson had an umpteen no of college basketball accolades under his name, some of them being an NCAA championship, National college player of the year, and 3x ACC player of the year.
The 4x All-Star played 8 seasons in the NBA, averaging 22.1 PPG on a 50.4% shooting from the field. A 2x All-NBA First Team, Thompson played most of his career for the Denver Nuggets.
Such was the impact of Thompson on MJ that he even inducted the Bulls superstar into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
As I grew up in North Carolina, I was an anti-Carolina guy. I hated UNC,” Jordan said. “I was in love with David Thompson, not just for the game of basketball, but in terms of what he represented. We all go through our trials and tribulations, and he did, and I was inspired by him. When I called him and asked him to stand up for me, I know I shocked the shit out of him. I know I did.
Since MJ grew up watching only college basketball, it came as no surprise Thompson was his idol. The former Nuggets player averaged 26.8 points and 8.1 rebounds in college and won the NCAA championship in 1974.