Originally said by Reggie Miller:
Probably the greatest player, both physically and mentally, was Michael. No question. On occasion I tried to break him, tried talking **** to him, but it never worked.
Man, I was stupid back then. It was during my second year in the league, and we were playing an exhibition game in Cincinnati against the Bulls. We were kicking the **** out of them, and Michael was just going through the motions. You know, exhibition game, big deal.
Then Chuck Person, who always talked **** to people, started egging me on during one of the timeouts.
“Talk **** to Michael,” he said. “He ain’t any good.”
I was hitting shots all night, thinking I was hot ****, so I said, “Yeah, okay, I will.”
We got back out on the court, and I started talking. I’d make a shot and yell at him, “Take this, *****.” I’d make a driving layup and say, “Don’t get me started, *****.” Or if he hit a jumper or something, I’d say, “Is that your best shot?”
The next thing I knew it was like, ding-dong, Michael’s home. We were up something like 12 points with five minutes to go. That’s when Michael scored the next 20 points—on me. They won the game with ease.
As we were walking off the court, Michael came up behind me and said, “Don’t you ever talk **** to me again.” And then he was gone.
Two things: I never talked **** to Michael again. And I never listened to Chuck Person again.
Michael could talk some ****, too. He was also one of the most physical players I ever faced.
Remember that fight we had a few years back in Indiana?
Here’s how it really started:
It was a fast break, and we were coming back on defense. I was trying to catch B.J. Armstrong, who had gotten ahead of me on the break. I accidentally got tangled up with Michael; we both tripped, and he fell on his wrist. B.J. missed the layup, and I caught the rebound on the floor and threw it to one of our guys on the outlet.
We both got up, and he went over and talked to Phil Jackson, their coach. I went over to him and said, “Yo, Dog, you all right?” He looked at me all crazylike. I think he thought I purposely tried to trip him.
I said, “Mike, you all right?”
He kept looking at me crazy. So I said, “**** you, then.”
The next play they started running that motion offense of theirs, that 1932 offense that they think is so mysterious, and Michael began giving me elbows and shots. I thought, “This guy is really tripping out,” but the referees weren’t doing anything about it. Now I’m thinking, “Damn, these guys are going to let him get away with this ****, too.”
A shot went up, and I went to box him out. I tried to give him a good pop, but he moved out of the way. We got the rebound, had a fast break, and Vern went in for a layup. But Vern missed it because Michael ran right in front of him at the last moment. I was trailing the play, tipped it in, and then saw Michael’s momentum sort of carry him out of bounds.
After I tipped it in, I purposely went out of bounds and gave him a shot. And that’s when it started. I got in his face, and he started grabbing and took a swing at me.
Said and done, I got thrown out, got fined ten thousand dollars and I’m thinking, “You got to be kidding me.” No foul, no T, nothing on Michael (though he did later get suspended for one game for the fight). I had scratches and blood coming down, and I told the refs, “Look at me. And I get thrown out, and there wasn’t a scratch on him.”
The refs said I got thrown out because I went out of my way to throw a little elbow. And then one of the refs came up to me and said, “You should have come to me when he first threw the elbow.”
“**** that ****,” I said. “You saw it happen right in front of you. Y’all didn’t do nothing about it. I’m not gonna sit there and take that ****. I gotta protect myself out here.”
That’s when all the media was talking about preferential treatment to superstars. Well, I saw it. It’s true.