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“Put Your Foot on the Guy’s Neck..”: Close Friend Once Exposed Michael Jordan for Mirroring Larry Bird and Magic Johnson in “The Last Dance”

Published 11/09/2022, 9:10 AM EST

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The entire sporting world knows Michael Jordan’s intense killer instinct. He was the definition of a true competitor. His Airness didn’t see just a regular game, everything had to have the aspect of competition. Likewise, Michael Jordan came off as a difficult teammate because he asked everyone to share his shivering hunger to win. However, his close friend believes the six-time champion wasn’t the first person to have such an approach.

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The Last Dance gave fans an inner look at the iconic finals season of the Chicago Bulls. A regular face in the series was former NFL Pro Bowl MVP, Ahmad Rashad. After a run in the NFL, Rashad turned into a celebrated sports journalist. While covering the Chicago Bulls, he met Air Jordan. Casual talks about sports soon turned into a friendship.


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Having free access all around Jordan, Rashad knew what kind of a competitive juggernaut he was. However, according to the former NFL receiver, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were that way before his close friend.

Best friend says Michael Jordan wasn’t the first one

While in an interview, Rashad opened up. about his time around the Bulls. Jordan was the leader at the time. His personality was chilling to the point his own teammates were scared. However, for MJ, it was just about winning. His way pertained to end up with his hand raised. In the process, he might have haunted his teammates to adhere to his standards. However, Jordan wasn’t heartless, it was just his way.

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Rashad was one person was saw him up close. He was glad his best friend’s human side was on show during the Last Dance documentary. But he also believed Jordan didn’t pioneer the competitive obsessiveness in the NBA.


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Rashad said: “I was glass that people got to see the human side of Michael. You see how competitive he was, how demanding he was. What I take from that is- if you think Larry Bird wasn’t like that and if you think Magic Johnson wasn’t like that, then you are not really thinking the right way. So it wasn’t just Michael that was just you know, win at all costs, put your foot on the guy’s neck kind of thing.”


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via Imago

Before the time of Michael Jordan, Bird and Johnson’s rivalry made an identity for the league. They wanted to win more than anything. So much so that they appeared in every final in the 1980s decade. Magic led the Showtime Lakers to a championship in his rookie season. On the other hand, Larey Bird was known for his unshakeable confidence. These two superstars set the stage for His Airness to take over. But Rashad might be right to say that all the winners before Jordan shared a similar mentality.

Bird and Magic were so fueled by competition that they refused to accept Jordan as the best. Notably, they had heated scrimmages with the five-time MVP during the 1992 Dream Team campaign. Hence, they were all cut from the same cloth.


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With 14 championships between these three legends, who do you think was the most competitive? Let us know your views in the comments below.

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Written by:

Anuj Talwalkar


One take at a time

Anuj Talwalkar is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. He is a student studying at NM College in Mumbai, aspiring to pursue sports management to follow his love for sports. Anuj started following the NBA last year, and he loves to combine his passion for writing with his understanding of basketball.
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