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North Carolina coach Roy Williams: Michael Jordan ran sub-4.4 40-yard dash

Michael Jordan was a great athlete. We tend to focus on his jumping ability – especially his dunks.

But he was also darn fast.

An assistant under Dean Smith when Jordan played for the Tar Heels, North Carolina coach Roy Williams recalled three staffers timing a sophomore Joran with handheld stopwatches in the 40-yard dash. Two got 4.38, and one got 4.39.

Williams, via Fox Sports Radio:

I said, “Michael, we missed your start and made a mistake here. Come on I need you to run it again.” He said, “Oh, too fast for you, huh?” I’ll never forget that. And he goes back to the line and runs it again, and all of us got below 4.4.

For perspective, just 12 players ran sub-4.4 40-yard dashes at this year’s NFL combine. The players with drafting team:

  • Alabama/Raiders wide receiver Henry Ruggs III: 4.27
  • Utah cornerback Javelin K. Guidry: 4.29
  • Southern Miss/Eagles wide receiver Quez Watkins: 4.35
  • Louisiana Tech/Chiefs safety L’Jarius Sneed: 4.37
  • Baylor/Jets wide receiver Denzel Mims: 4.38
  • Tulane/Bears wide receiver Darnell Mooney: 4.38
  • Auburn cornerback Javaris Davis: 4.39
  • Texas/Ravens wide receiver Devin Duvernay: 4.39
  • Memphis/Redskins wide receiver Antonio Gibson: 4.39
  • Florida/Jaguars cornerback CJ Henderson: 4.39
  • Clemson/Cardinals linebacker Isaiah Simmons: 4.39
  • Wisconsin/Colts running back Jonathan Taylor: 4.39

A quarter of those players (Ruggs, Henderson, Simmons) were first-round picks. Most of them (Ruggs, Henderson, Simmons, Mims, Taylor, Duvernay, Gibson) got picked in the draft’s first two days.

Jordan didn’t keep his peak speed. He bulked up to handle the physicality of the Bad Boys Pistons, and he bulked up further to play baseball. But what an incredible starting point.

There’s only one word for it: legendary.