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Michael Jordan’s $18,000,000 Endorsement Led to Scottie Pippen Taunting ‘Furious’ Magic Johnson: “Want to Be Like Mike?”

Trikansh Kher

Michael Jordan's $18,000,000 Endorsement Led to Scottie Pippen Taunting 'Furious' Magic Johnson: "Want to Be Like Mike?"

The 1992 dream team was like the ‘Avengers’ of basketball. Put together to bring back ‘gold’ to the United States. This would be the first time NBA players would play in the Olympics. But with big names also comes big egos, causing conflict both on and off the court. These conflicts would result in awe-inspiring scrimmages, as the best players in the world went at each other, in an attempt to prove who was the best. Famously, Michael Jordan and Magic Johson clashed, which led Scottie, who was Jordan’s teammate, to taunt the Lakers superstar. It involved an $18,000,000 deal that Jordan had at the time and it angered Johnson.

But among the many scrimmages which occurred, one stood out as possibly the best. The match was so good, Michael Jordan many years later called it ‘the best basketball game I have been part of’. The incident was narrated in the book ‘When the game was ours’.

The incident occurred a few days before Team USA departed for Barcelona, where the Summer Olympics were taking place. USA head coach Chuck Daly wanted the players to go game speed at each other, making Jordan and Magic Johnson the captains of the two scrimmage teams.

With Michael completely dominating Magic during the match, Johnson complained that the refs were biased toward Jordan. Magic expressed his frustration saying “It’s like I’m in Chicago Stadium! They moved it to Monte Carlo!”.

The best game the world “never” got to see

The ’80s belonged to Magic and Bird. But change was coming and even Johnson couldn’t stop the inevitable from happening. Chuck Daly, the coach of the 1992 Dream team wanted to finish off the Dream team’s practice for Barcelona with a competitive scrimmage. This scrimmage would be the day that the NBA recognized Michael Jordan as the best player in the league, as Jordan’s team dominated through and through.

The game started rather one-sided with Johnsons’ squad scoring at will. But one critical mistake was made by Magic. Magic decided to talk trash. From there on it was all a Michael Jordan special. Recalling the event, Jackie MacMullan said ” Jordan was blocking passing lanes, interrupting passes, putting Magic on the block, scoring at will. He was doing all of this while talking trash to the entire opposition”. Jordan while talking back to Magic said ” Welcome to the ’90s” as Jordan drained another jumper.

By the fourth quarter, Magic was frustrated as Jordan continued to get whatever he wanted. But in Magic’s eye, the one-sided game was due to the unfair reffing. Reacting to the situation Magic exclaimed, ” It’s like I’m in Chicago Stadium! They moved it to Monte Carlo!“.

Scottie Pippen who was on Jordan’s team found Magics words amusing. Taunting a helpless Magic Johnson, Pippen told Johnson that ” You want to be like Mike?, drink some Gatorade”. The taunt was especially artful, as Jordan had just signed an $18,00,000 endorsement deal with Gatorade at the time.

The comment that changed the face of the NBA

The idea of Chuck’s practice was for the players to get up to game speed before Barcelona. But when things started to go out of hand, Daly wanted to stop the practice. But with Pippen’s comments, Johnson was fired up and wanted to play on. Unfortunately, the game didn’t pan out so well for Magic. By the end of the match, it was even evident to Magic, that there was a ‘new sheriff in town’.

The game was not all doom, as many players expressed how playing those last few scrimmages led them to grow closer and break the ice. The Dream Team went on to win gold in a fashion never seen before, returning the gold to their country once again.

About the author

Trikansh Kher

Trikansh Kher

Trikansh Kher is a writer at The Sports Rush. A lawyer by education, Trikansh has always been around sports. As a young track athlete Trikansh was introduced to basketball through 'street ball' mixtapes. He was hooked and it has been 'ball is life' ever since. Trikansh is a designer by profession, but couldn't keep away from basketball. A regular on the blacktop, his love for the game goes further than just hooping. If Trikansh isn't going through box scores for last night's game, you can find him in his studio working on his designs or playing squash at the local club.

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