Tom Brady engaged in plenty of trash-talking with his opponents Peyton Manning and Tiger Woods during "The Match" on Sunday. But they weren't the only ones going back-and-forth with the six-time Super Bowl champion.
NBA legend Charles Barkley was a commentator for the charity golf match and didn't hold back from letting Brady hear all about his lackluster performance through the first few holes. On the seventh hole, however, the ex-New England Patriots quarterback birdied a par-5 with what was unquestionably the best shot of the day to silence Barkley.
The real mic drop from Brady came after the match, though, when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB jabbed Barkley for his inability to win a championship during his NBA career.
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Of course, the trash-talking was all just good fun. And it provided phenomenal entertainment while those involved in "The Match" helped raise more than $20 million to go toward COVID-19 relief efforts.
In addition to highlighting the greatness, competitiveness, intensity and pettiness of Michael Jordan, one thing "The Last Dance" does with most every episode is shine a light on the physicality of the NBA at the end of the last century.
Where have all the tough guys gone? They’ve been legislated out of the game.
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I mean, guys are still tough — Steven Adams wouldn’t be out there shrinking from anybody if he was prowling a dimly-lit court in the early 80s; same with Marcus Smart — but the mayhem is gone because it got too extreme. The watershed moments I remember? Kermit Washington nearly decapitating Rudy Tomjanovich in 1977, all the Celtics-Sixers and Celtics-Lakers fights of the early 80s and finally, the entry of the "Bad Boy" Pistons and then the devolution of the game when the Knicks and Heat came to the fore after the Pistons.
Guys beat the crap out of each other in a way that’s just not allowed in today’s game. Now, because rules are so strict, the best players in the league are more adept at selling contact than dishing it out.
The style of the game also played into the transformation. The post-up game that revolved around big men hammering at each other to gain position for layups, dunks and free throws has long since been replaced by the five-out, drive-and-kick, pick-and-pop style that’s more aesthetically pleasing and athletically challenging.
Not only was Jordan the greatest player of his era (or any), he was also among the toughest. He fought everyone. Happily. He was a superstar AND an enforcer. And he wasn’t alone in that dual role.
The whole thing got me reminiscing and then researching who were the scrappiest, nastiest, fightinest, meanest players who overlapped with Jordan. Here are my 14.
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The Boston Celtics-Philadelphia 76ers rival is pretty heated now as the two vie for Eastern Conference supremacy and the Sixers, who poached Al Horford from the C's in free agency, are responsible for Boston's lone loss so far early in the NBA season.
Still, it's got nothing on its '80s heyday when in order to reach the NBA Finals, Boston had to go through Philly or vice versa.
Things got very heated 35 years ago today when the defending champion Celtics hosted the Sixers at the old Boston Garden. Boston was 4-0, Philly 5-0. The best player on each team sparked a legendary brawl that saw future Hall of Famers Larry Bird and Julius Erving go at it (see the video above).
Bird had torched Erving and the Sixers for 42 points in 30 minutes (Dr. J had been held to six points) when an offensive foul call on Bird led to a scuffle that saw the benches empty and the two stars throw down.
The melee produced an iconic photo by the Boston Globe's Ted Gartland, working that night for the Associated Press, of Bird grabbing Erving by the throat (see below) and resulted in $7,500 fines each for Bird and Dr. J, which at the time were the second-highest fines for player conduct in NBA history.
Oh, and the Celtics won, 130-119.
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