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  • “He bullied me”: James Worthy reminisces Michael Jordan’s ‘assassin’ mentality at UNC 
James Worthy reminisces Michael Jordan’s ‘assassin’ mentality at UNC

“He bullied me”: James Worthy reminisces Michael Jordan’s ‘assassin’ mentality at UNC 

When Michael Jordan first arrived at the University of North Carolina, James Worthy was the top player on the team. However, it did not take long before he was dethroned by the young guard.

James Worthy went on to have a good NBA career but was not of the same caliber as Jordan. The Hall of Fame forward recently opened up on what it was like during their time together as college teammates.


Before Jordan's arrival in 1981, Worthy was coming off a sophomore season where he averaged 14.2 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists. On the "All the Smoke" podcast, the LA Lakers said that it took Jordan about three weeks to surpass him as the top guy on the squad.

"I was better than Michael, for about three weeks," Worthy said. "He was an assassin. He bullied me. He sought out the best in everything."

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In their lone season as teammates, Worthy and Jordan led UNC to a national championship. Worthy was then drafted first overall by the LA Lakers in the 1982 draft. He went on to play 12 seasons with the franchise, where he became a seven-time All-Star and three-time champion.


Michael Jordan was given last shot over James Worthy in 1982 title game

Even though James Worthy felt Michael Jordan was better than him at the time, he had better numbers in the 1981-82 season. Despite being the team's top performer, it was the future Chicago Bulls legend who got the ball in the biggest moment of the year.

In the 1982 national championship game, UNC found themselves squaring off against Patrick Ewing and Gerogetown. The game went down to the final moments, with Jordan securing the victory for his team.

Instead of drawing up the last play for Worthy, they used him as a distraction. When the defense collapsed on Worthy, they quickly swung the ball to the other end of the floor where Jordan was waiting. He knocked down the mid-range jumper, which turned out to be the game-winner for North Carolina.


Michael Jordan ended the game with 16 points, nine rebounds, two assists and two steals on 7-for-13 shooting from the floor.

During their time together, Worhty caught a glimpse of what would propel Jordan to being one of the greatest NBA players ever. His obsession with being the best was a catalyst in him leading the Chicago Bulls to six championships and cementing himself in the G.O.A.T conversation.

Edited by
Kevin McCormick
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