‘He Got This Look on His Face’: Magic’s Backstory Behind Michael Jordan’s Famous NBA Finals ‘Shrug’

Published 02/05/2021, 7:30 AM EST
Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls during the 1997 McDonald’s Championship. (Photo by Dimitri Iundt/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images)


As the world learned from the ‘Last Dance’, Michael Jordan takes it personally, so provoke him at your own peril.

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Very recently, his former rival and current friend, Magic Johnson, appeared on ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live’. The host asked him about that famous shrug MJ made towards him during Game 1 of the 1992 NBA Finals against the Trail Blazers.

Johnson proceeded to elaborate on this and said, “I’m on NBC, calling the games. So I’m at his house the night before. He (Michael Jordan) called me, ‘Come on out.’ So I went to his house, and we played cards.”

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LOS ANGELES, CA Spring, 1991 –– Los Angeles Lakers Magic Johnson, right, is guarded by Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls in the 1991 NBA Finals in Los Angeles. (Photo by Al Seib/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Magic further added, “So we were playing cards, and it got to be about 1 am in the morning and the game’s the next night. So I said, man, let me go so you can get some rest. ‘No, you stay here because I’m gonna tear Clyde Drexler up tomorrow.’… And he got this look on his face like he wanted to play him right then… So I’m thinking, ‘OK, maybe he just said that.'”

Why did Michael Jordan wish to destroy Drexler?

In the buildup to the game, the media had billed it as the battle between Jordan and Drexler. But the Chicago Bulls star considered himself to be in a different stratosphere than Clyde, who the critics considered as one of the best three-point shooters in the NBA back then, so MJ decided to target the strongest area of his enemy.

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“So we get to the game, and he hits that first three, the second three, the third three. Now, remember, he’s hitting them in a row. He hits six threes. The last one he hit, he turned and looked at me and said [shrugs] … saying, ‘What did I tell you I was gonna do?'” said Magic.

Michael Jordan (Photo by Jesse Grant/WireImage)

These tales highlighting the competitive spirit of the most influential sports person of all-time will never get old. MJ’s crying meme has truly been overshadowed by the ‘I took it personally’ meme now.

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Bharat Aggarwal

755 articles

Bharat Aggarwal is a sports analyst for EssentiallySports, covering Formula 1 and NBA. A Delhi University graduate, Bharat has multi-year experience in sports writing, having closely worked with the content strategy aspect as well. Bharat Aggarwal supports Manchester United, Lewis Hamilton, Cristiano Ronaldo, Rafael Nadal, Dirk Nowitzki, Sachin Tendulkar, Ayrton Senna, Kristaps Porzingis, and Dallas Mavericks.

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