21 examples of Michael Jordan's insane competitiveness

Streeter Lecka/Getty

Michael Jordan’s competitiveness is as legendary as his career.

Jordan was known as one of the fiercest competitors in the NBA, unafraid to talk trash and mix it up with other players.

However, that competitiveness extended beyond the court. He was known to be ruthless in golf and would look to make everything a competition – even drinking water.

Here are 21 examples of Jordan’s insane competitiveness.

Actor Will Smith said he’s never met anyone as competitive as MJ.

“Mike will compete with anything, though. If we’re drinking water, Mike will be like, ‘I’ll race you!'”

Source: Jimmy Kimmel Live

He trashed all his doubters in his Hall of Fame induction speech, saying of former Bulls GM Jerry Krause: “I don’t know who invited him … I didn’t.”

Watch the video here >

He punched former Bulls teammate Steve Kerr in the face during a scrimmage.

Getty Images

Kerr said he talked back to MJ during training camp, and then:

“He punched me in the face … It was one of the best things that ever happened for me. I needed to stand up and go back at him. I think I earned some respect. But, we have a great relationship ever since … you gotta prove it, and then once you prove it, you’re fine.”

Dan Patrick Show

He played through the flu and scored 38 points.

Brian Bahr/Getty

It was the pivotal game of the 1997 NBA Finals. Jordan had a nasty flu, but he dropped 38 points and the Bulls won. They won the series two days later.

He allegedly ruined Rodney McCray’s career by dominating him in $US100 post-practice shooting games.

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

ESPN’s Rick Reilly says he witnessed Jordan eviscerate McCray in practice in 1993.

A source told him: “MJ is in Rodney’s face, screaming, ‘You’re a loser! You’ve always been a loser!’ Rodney can hardly put up a jumper now.”

He psyched out the Washington Bullets in the playoffs by smoking cigars before games.

From NBA star Chris Webber told Dan Patrick that Jordan walked into the Bullets locker room with a cigar and asked, “Who’s going to check me tonight?”

Later on in the series, the team went back to Chicago. When the Bullets got off the bus, Jordan and Scottie Pippen were in a car, smoking cigars together.

“We get off the bus and we have to pass them with a lit cigar,” Webber said.

“You want to talk about posturing? Forget Phil Jackson. You got Michael Jordan there behind the scenes smoking a cigar before the game, letting us know that he’s the Red Auerbach before the game even started.”

Source: Bleacher Report/Dan Patrick Show

He allegedly broke the jumpshot of former NBA point guard Muggsy Bogues with one sentence of trash talk.

From Deadspin:

“On the biggest possession of the game, Mugsy had the ball with the Hornets down 1. Jordan backed off of him and told him: ‘shoot it you f—ing midget.’ Mugsy shot it, didn’t come close. A year later Mugsy actually told Johnny Bach that he believes that single play ruined his career. His shot never recovered.”

Kobe Bryant, whose competitiveness and overall game has been likened to Jordan’s, said Jordan once tried to trash talk him during a friendly dinner.

Jordan said that at his peak, in 1991, he would have beaten Bryant at his peak. Bryant said he politely steered the conversation elsewhere.

Source: Jimmy Kimmel Live

He destroyed O.J. Mayo, then a top high school prospect, in a pickup game at age 43.

Watch the whole thing here >

He played a Bobcats player one-on-one in 2013, and had to get treatment from the trainer the next day.


He made a $US500 bet with a fan that he could hit the green at a charity golf event in 2011, and won.

Watch the video here >

Charles Barkley said Jordan used to bet “hundreds of thousands” of dollars on golf matches.

Read more: Charles Barkley says Michael Jordan used to wager ‘hundreds of thousands of dollars’ on rounds of golf >

He forced Dream Team coach Chuck Daly to play him in golf by pounding on his hotel room door.

Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Rick Reilly reported that Jordan lost to Daly in golf in Monte Carlo. The next morning, he pounded on Daly’s door at their hotel until Daly finally agreed to go play him again. Jordan won.

Sports Illustrated

At age 50, he made it a goal to lose 45 pounds to get down to his playing weight of 218.


He used to never lose arguments.

Jordan told ESPN’s Wright Thompson that his then-fiancee (now wife) Yvette pressured him into driving seven hours so she could see where he grew up. He said that would have never happened 10 years ago:

“It’s amazing what women can talk you into doing. Make you change. Ten years ago, we’d have been arguing all f—ing day. I would have won. This time, this stage where I am, you win. That’s progress.”


He led a group of hard-line NBA owners who refused to budge during the lockout in 2011.

New York Times

He once trash-talked Bill Clinton on the golf course.

They two were playing golf together when MJ forced the former president to play from the farthest-away tees.

“You’re going to play from the little girls’ tees?” Jordan asked him.

Wall Street Journal

He continually cheated Scottie Pippen out of money by betting on pre-recorded races.

From ESPN’s Amin Elhassan:

“[Jordan] would show up really early to get his shots up on gameday. If you show up to an arena early enough, you’ll see the gamehouse people basically doing a dry run through everything. Everything from the national anthem to the … One of the things they have is that thing where it’s like the three Bulls flying, and it’s like ‘Who’s gonna win?’ So Mike is watching this and is like, ‘Oh, so you guys already know [who’s going to win]?’ And the guy says, ‘Yeah we know; it’s all pre-recorded.’ [Jordan says] ‘So you know who’s gonna win tonight, right?’ And he says, ‘Yeah, the red one.’

“Fast-forward to the game. Timeout. Phil is drawing up a play. Mike goes to Scottie and says, ‘Hundred bucks the red one wins.’ And then proceeds to do this for the rest of the season and Scottie never catches on.”

Source: ESPN

He had final say on who made the Dream Team.


In his book “Dream Team,” author Jack McCallum hinted that no one was allowed on the team unless Jordan wanted him on the team.

Magic Johnson even echoed the sentiment, telling McCallum: “Michael was all about who was going to be on the team. It was more important … no, make that just as important, for Michael to have a good time as it was to play games.”

Read the full story here >

He once told Shaq exactly what he was going to do against his teammate, and it worked.

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Shaquille O’Neal says Jordan told him:

“I’m coming down. I’m going to dribble it between my legs twice. I’m going to pump fake, and then I’m going to shoot a jumper. And then I’m going to look at you. And that’s exactly what he did.”

Dan Patrick Show

Magic Johnson said he once trash-talked Jordan during a practice with the Dream Team and lived to regret it.

Johnson told Jimmy Kimmel that his team was beating Jordan’s in a scrimmage, and Johnson told Jordan, “If you don’t turn into Air Jordan, we’re going to blow you out today.”

Jordan proceeded to lead his team to a comeback, hitting consecutive three-pointers and staring down Johnson. The coup de grace was a 360 dunk around David Robinson that blew Johnson away.

Read more: Magic Johnson has a fantastic story about paying the price for trash-talking Michael Jordan >

Now check out what happened to the players in one of the most famous drafts in NBA history…

WHERE ARE THEY NOW? The players from LeBron James’ legendary 2003 NBA Draft >

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