NBA legend Michael Jordan flew down to New York to recruit Jayson Williams during the 1995-96 off-season. At the time, MJ needed a rebounder for his team.
After one and a half years of sabbatical from basketball, his Airness would make a comeback to the hardwood at the flag end of the 1994-95 season. The Bulls would finish the season with 47 wins, clinching the 5th seed in the eastern conference.
Unfortunately, the Bulls would lose to the Orlando Magic in the eastern conference semi-finals. MJ would use the following off-season preparing to get himself back into his basketball shape. During the time, his Airness also shot for Space Jam.
The popular Jordan Dome, a practice facility that was constructed during the shooting of the movie so that MJ could simultaneously prepare for the upcoming season.
During the same time, the Bulls superstar took a trip to New York to recruit All-Star forward Jayson Williams. MJ was so adamant about recruiting Williams that he waited over an hour at a bar to make his pitch.
Michael Jordan waited for over an hour at a New York bar to sign Jayson Williams.
Williams was no 1 on the Bulls’ recruiting list. So much so that Jordan flew to another city to pitch him the idea. While talking to Sam Smith of the Chicago Tribune, Williams spoke about MJ’s pitch.
He (Jordan) told me all he needs is for me to rebound, and he’ll get me two or three rings. He was all over me. He said I was at the top of list. He said, ‘I had to come all the way to your neighborhood to find you.
The Bulls needed a replacement for Horace Grant, whom they had lost to the Orlando Magic in 1994. Thus Williams seemed a perfect fit for the role, who averaged 5.7 rebounds during the previous season.
Despite making several efforts, Williams chose to re-sign with the Nets. The failed attempt to recruit Williams served as a blessing in disguise for the windy city, who would then land one of the best rebounders of all time in Dennis Rodman.
The 2x DPOY would prove to be an invaluable asset for the Bulls on the defensive end of the game. The worm averaged an incredible 15.3 RPG during his time in Chicago.
MJ would meet Jayson Williams in the first round of the 1998 playoffs. The 10x scoring champion would annihilate the Nets, sweeping them in the first round. Jordan averaged 36.3 PPG during the series and shot 52.9% from the floor.
Williams loss was Rodman’s gain as the latter would 3-peat with the Bulls. Rodman cemented his legacy with the Bulls and became one of the best defensive players of all time.