Larry Johnson talks about his first game against Michael Jordan describing how the GOAT’s trash talk left him numb.
Arguably one of the most competitive players in the League ever, the GOAT Michael Jordan wasn’t one to fraternise with his opponents, in fact, quite the opposite.
Spanning an illustrious Hall of fame career, Jordan proved to be an individual driven by an indomitable need to win at all costs. On top of being a terrific scorer and defensive player, the GOAT excelled at trash-talking his opponents, a tactic used to intimidate and discourage.
Stemming from a compulsive desire to win and dominate his opponents, Jordan became a master of mental warfare both on and off the court. Whether you were a rookie or a vet, it didn’t matter, Jordan was out there to let you know he was better and while most of the time his performance in the game was more than enough to hush his opponents, the GOAT seemed to relish any opportunity to dole out a mental beatdown.
Of course, trash talk all by itself can only go so far. However, MJ’s ability to talk the talk and walk the walk is what made him all the more terrifying and vicious as an opponent. One could site more than a handful of instances where MJ made it a point to antagonise his opponents, wearing them down to a shell of themselves.
Case in point, When the Bulls played the Cavaliers in the 1993 playoffs, the Cavs decided to bring in Gerald Wilkins, aka ‘The Jordan Stopper’ to negate his Airness. However, Jordan had other ideas, outplaying Wilkins the entire series, culminating in him saying “He can’t guard me, he can’t guard me” after he hit a tough shot.
Larry Johnson revisits his unpleasant experience playing against Michael Jordan for the very first time
In a recent appearance on the Knuckleheads podcast, retired Knicks power forward Larry Johnson talked about his first interaction with Jordan on the court and how the GOAT managed to ruin his game by asking about his mother.
“The first time I met him, we walked out on the court, and he walks straight up to me and goes, ‘How’s Dorothy?’
“He said, ‘How’s Dorothy? I couldn’t play the whole game. He walked up to me and asked me how my mom was. Used her name. Used her name. He done went in the program and saw my mom’s name was Dorothy. Went in the program, used my mom’s name. I think I scored eight points. I was averaging 24.”
As is evident, Larry still seems appalled by the fact that Jordan could go to such an extent to mess with a relatively young up and coming player but with Michael, it didn’t matter. As long as you were wearing a different colour, you were in for a rough night.
Some might argue that Jordan’s trash-talking tactics were unnecessary and unpleasant however, this incident yet again points to the simple truth that the GOAT made it a point to ensure he had an arsenal of weapons to employ against his opponents, whether it was his razor-sharp tongue or a breath taking mid-range jumper which was virtually unstoppable.