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When a 21-year-old Michael Jordan gave an unexpected answer to “The best player you ever saw” question in 1984 interview 

2022 NBA All-Star Game
Michael Jordan, right, and LeBron James

While Michael Jordan is known as one of the most competitive athletes ever, he has never been scared to give high praise to another player. A prime example of this came in an interview not long after his NBA career began.

Back in 1984, the Chicago Bulls drafted Michael Jordan with the third overall pick. Little did they know that this decision would go on to completely change the trajectory of the franchise.

During his rookie year, Jordan was asked who the best player he ever saw was. At the time, many might have expected him to say Magic Johnson, Larry Bird or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. However, the future Hall of Famer gave a rather unexpected answer.

"To play against? Has to be Walter Davis," Jordan said. "I played against Walter Davis in the summertime, and he's been an outstanding basketball player."

Walter Davis and MJ have something in common as they both played their college ball at the University of North Carolina.

Davis was selected fifth overall during the 1977 draft and played for 15 years with the Phoenix Suns, Denver Nuggets and Portland Trail Blazers. He finished his career with six All-Star selections and had career averages of 18.9 points, 3.0 rebounds and 3.8 assists.

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Michael Jordan was extremely humble to start his career

F1 Grand Prix of Miami
F1 Grand Prix of Miami

It's obvious Michael Jordan shocked many, but partially because he didn't say himself. If he were asked that same question in the prime of his career, there is no doubt the Chicago Bulls legend would have said he's the best without second guessing.

Bryant Gumble even gave MJ a chance to pick himself, and he still turned it down. He was later asked where he ranks himself, which he gave a very humble answer.

"He is still working his way up," Jordan said.

Work his way up the ranks is an understatement to what Jordan did in his NBA career. In 15 seasons, he amassed six championships, six Finals MVPs, 10 scoring titles, five regular-season MVPs and 14 All-Star nominations. On top of that, he is widely regarded as the greatest basketball player of all time.

One thing that always stood out about Jordan was his competitive fire. While he laughed it off in this interview, he knew he wanted to end up as the best ever. That said, he understood he had ways to go before doing so.

If you asked any young player in the 1990s who the best player they faced off against was, the answer would have easily been "His Airness."

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Edited by Joseph Schiefelbein
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