Every basketball fan is aware that Michael Jordan is one of the most competitive players in the league and isn't known to backout from a challenge. Interestingly, during a two-game meeting with the Washington Bullets, where LaBradford Smith poked the bear and witnessed a stellar performance from MJ.
Back in 1993, Jordan started taking over the league and was on his way to seal his first three-peat with the Chicago Bulls. During the second half of the season, the Bulls had back-to-back games against the Bullets. Although Chicago won both games, MJ wasn't happy with his performance in their first game.
Jordan matched up against LaBradford Smith, the 19th pick of Washington back in 1991. Smith isn't a star like MJ, in fact, he played most of his career as a role player for Washington and the Sacramento Kings. In their first back-to-back game, the Bullets guard had an impressive outing despite being guarded by Jordan.
Smith has scored a career-high 37 points against the six-time champion. According to Jordan, the Bullets guard, who averaged 9.3 points that season, approached him and said, "Nice game, Mike." In the second game of their back-to-back, number 23 showed everyone that he won't be punked by a role player and had 47 points to lead the Bulls to a win.
It's a fairly incredible story, however, that wasn't true.
Years later, Jordan admitted that he made up a story to motivate himself into playing better against his competition. Smith never approached MJ after he scored 37 points, it was all made up by His Airness.
LaBradford would only spend one more season in the NBA since then before starting his basketball career overseas. Jordan, on the other hand, added three more championships to his resume after his first retirement from the game.
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Shaquille O'Neal made up a story, just like Michael Jordan
Like Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal was feared by most NBA players. His sheer physical strength was enough to inflict fear into people and make him the most dominant force in the history of the NBA. However, Shaq also made up a story to keep him motivated to play against certain players.
O'Neal once shared that he was ignored by San Antonio Spurs center David Robinson when he was younger. According to the 15-time All-Star, he used his early encounters with Robinson to motivate him to dominate games, especially the ones against the Spurs.
Years later, Shaq admitted to lying about being ignored by The Admiral. According to him, he wanted to have a dominant mentality, which is why he made up the story. Since then, O'Neal has had nothing but respect for the former San Antonio bigman.