Larry Bird

How Michael Jordan reacted to Robert Parish taunting him at Bulls practice

How Michael Jordan reacted to Robert Parish taunting him at Bulls practice

Don’t mess with The Chief. Michael Jordan learned that lesson at a practice during Robert Parish’s lone season with the Bulls in 1996-97 — the last of his 21-year career.

Appearing on CLNS Media’s Cedric Maxwell Podcast, Parish told the story of him taunting Jordan (a rare sight at a Bulls practice in the ’90s), and the shock Jordan responded with. 

“We were scrimmaging, we played like six games going to five points. And so after the first two games, Phil (Jackson) put me with the second unit who I always played with. You know, my boys,” Parish told Maxwell. “We proceeded to kick their (the first unit’s) butts like four straight games. And Michael took offense to it, so I asked him, ‘How did he like that butt whooping?’

“He took offense to it because clearly no one ever manned up to him, you know, challenged him. So he said if I wasn’t careful, he was going to kick my ass. And I told him, ‘I’m not in awe of you. I’ve played with some of the baddest fellas there walking the court … And I’m supposed to be in awe of you?' You know, he’s looking at me like I had slapped his mug (laughs).”

Parish ended his career a four-time NBA champion — thrice with the Celtics (1981, 1984, 1986) and once with the Bulls (1997). He cited his experience playing with all-time greats from Larry Bird to Kevin McHale to Bill Walton to Maxwell as reason for not being intimidated by Jordan. 

Still, his gumption apparently sent shockwaves down the roster. 

“Derrick Dickey (Dickey Simpkins?) couldn’t believe that I talked to Michael like that,” Parish told Maxwell on the podcast. “Clearly, Michael was the alpha, you know, it was his team. He ran the ballclub and everybody kind of like got out of his way and let him do his thing.”

Parish added that he respected Jordan’s brazen leadership style, but that he preferred the manner in which Bird operated.

“Everybody got their own style, and the way they lead. Michael was in your face, he challenged his teammates,” Parish said. “Larry was our leader (with the Celtics), and he led by example. You know, he wasn’t a vocal leader, he let his play dictate how we should play. I think Larry’s style and philosophy makes the best leaders, because if you are a yeller and a screamer, after a while your voice fall on deaf ears and players just kinda tune you out, don’t hear what you got to say.

“I respect both leadership styles, but I prefer Larry’s style the best. Cause you know, some nights you don’t want to hear what he got to say, speaking of Michael. He all up in your face talking trash, you know, he might get a short right, man (laughs).”

Fair enough. Jordan’s abrasive ways weren’t for everyone. Surely, he’s content to let his six rings speak for themselves.

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'Last Dance': Michael Jordan trolled Larry Bird after 1998 playoff series

'Last Dance': Michael Jordan trolled Larry Bird after 1998 playoff series

Larry Bird had Michael Jordan’s number during his playing days — Bird’s Celtics swept Jordan’s Bulls in the first round of the 1986 NBA Playoffs. But it was Jordan who came out on top during Bird’s coaching days.

The Bulls beat the Indiana Pacers 4-3 in the 1998 Eastern Conference Finals. Bird was Indiana’s head coach, and after Game 7, Jordan made sure to get some trash talk in. From a postgame conversation featured in Episode 9 of ESPN’s “The Last Dance.”

Bird: "You b***h, f**k you." 
Jordan: "Y'all gave us a run for our money." 
Bird: "Yeah, I'll see ya." 
Jordan: "All right, take care. Now you can work on that golf game of yours."

Got ‘em.

Indiana gave the Bulls a run for their money and nearly ended Jordan’s final season in Chicago a round early. Alas, close, but no cigar, Indy.

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Larry Bird told Magic Johnson 'Michael Jordan is now’ during 1992 Olympics

Larry Bird told Magic Johnson 'Michael Jordan is now’ during 1992 Olympics

There are so many epic stories about the 1992 Olympic Dream Team. The names and characters assembled on that team combined with the fact that they were the first team of professionals to play for Team USA were a perfect match.

Ahmad Rashad had a story of his own that he shared on Twitter on Tuesday. It involves Rashad overhearing a debate between Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan at a hotel in Barcelona during the 1992 Olympics.


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As Rashad tells it, Patrick Ewing and Charles Barkley were also involved, but were quickly dismissed for having never won a championship. That left Bird, Magic and MJ to discuss who the best player was. Jordan had won the last two NBA titles with the Bulls, and Magic had retired after the 1991 NBA Finals due to testing positive for HIV. That didn’t temper the debate though.

“Now Michael and Magic got into it,” Rashad said. “They were talking back and forth with each other and it was really funny. I was sitting up there with Larry Bird and we were just watching. Finally, Michael gets very upset and says, ‘Listen, I’m telling you, Larry, and I’m telling you, Magic, if you don’t quit, every time I see you next year, I am busting your ass. When I come to the arena, I’m busting your ass. So I’m warning you right now you better quit.’ So after time went by, Larry Bird finally just looks over at Magic and says, ‘Magic, you know you and I were then, and Michael Jordan is now.’”

Bird started as part of the debate, but he sure ended it for Jordan.

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