Everyone is retelling Michael Jordan stories thanks to ESPN’s “The Last Dance” documentary series.
One of his most famous non-Bulls stories involves a scrimmage during the leadup to the 1992 Olympics.
The story goes that the Dream Team had an intrasquad scrimmage before the Olympics and it turned into a glorified MJ vs. Magic Johnson game. The two were fighting for top dog status on the team and in the NBA.
It’s arguable that Jordan claimed the top spot in the NBA after the Bulls brushed aside Magic’s Lakers in the 1991 NBA Finals. The Bulls won all three games in Los Angeles to take the series in five games, the only Finals the Bulls won that quickly. However, if you ask the players who were there, this scrimmage was when it was unquestionable that Jordan had the top spot.
“It was just obvious that Michael was by far the greatest player in the world at that point in time,” Dream Team teammate Chris Mullin said on Wednesday’s episode of The Habershow with Tom Haberstroh. “You know, Magic, I think from a competitive standpoint, too, always went back as Michael. Could still back it up, was still a hell of a player. But Michael was on another level.”
Magic had retired after testing positive for HIV just before the start of the 1991-92 season. He decided to join the Dream Team and later had a brief comeback in the NBA. Johnson was past his prime at this point, but the competitive juices were still flowing.
“It all kind of culminated in that session where Magic and Michael, it was basically a 1-on-1 competition and the other four players were kind of participating with them,” Mullin said. “Magic was not relinquishing the mantle of the man in the NBA until after that scrimmage.”
Jordan took over and made it known. Larry Bird was watching while nursing an injury and was laughing at the whole scene, according to Mullin.
“They were going back and forth,” Mullin said. “‘This is my league.’ ‘This is not the 80s no more.’ I looked over and Larry’s like, ‘It’s over dude. This is his league.’”