Featured Gallery, NBA / Jan 11, 2012 / 3:30 pm

The Real Story Behind The Man Who Cut Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan

We all know the story. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school team and then went on to become the greatest athlete ever. But along the way, 33 years after it happened, fact slowly morphed into myth. Most Jordan fans can tell you “Okay, yes he was technically cut from the varsity, but he still played jayvee, dominated, and then came up and kept dominating on the varsity the next year as a junior.” That’s nothing outrageous. Shoot, I’ll argue John Wall might even have a crazier story: getting cut from his high school team and having to transfer because no one wanted him nor thought he was good enough. The full MJ story was never given the light. Until now.

Sports Illustrated has a new piece in their newest issue that takes us back to Laney High School, Wilmington, North Carolina and the decision that probably helped change Clifton “Pop” Herring’s life forever.

MJ was banished to jayvee because he was only 5-10. The varsity needed size, and Leroy Smith (the man who would go on to become synonymous with Jordan’s maniacal wrath and competitiveness) and his 6-7 frame were chosen. Herring and the other coaches justified it this way, and after seeing Smith go on to actually play professionally, one can hardly argue taking this 6-7 high school kid was an asinine decision.

But Jordan? He became a jayvee monster.

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  • BRUCE

    Why can’t dude go with the positive instead of the negatives. His decision to cut MJ, molded MJ into being MJ, the GOAT. Dude should be walking around with his head up high, I cut MJ. I don’t care who you are, I did it once, ask MJ!

  • silky

    that article is a good read. SI sure loves to circle around that grudge thing…. dangling and revisiting it at every turn because it is so central to the relationship between them and mike after the “bag it michael” cover. yet they don’t have the balls to come out and be direct about it… just saying jordan declined to comment or smith(with ties to jordan brand)decided not to comment either(after a phone call from mike i assume)

    but mental disease is a really tragic thing, the beautiful mind

  • Phileus

    Sounds like a pretty shitty community to live in if they drove him to insanity for a justifiable decision.

    On the other hand, mental disease doesn’t always come from trauma. It might have happened anyway.

  • D

    Read the SI article earlier today – great read. Sad to see how things turned out for Pop and his family.

    We just gotta face facts and recognize that MJ is perhaps the greatest ballplayer of all time, but, in many situations, is just not a good person. He can certainly call it what he wants, but it’s pretty clear that he was not cut from the varsity team, but was instead not selected. I think that’s a pretty big distinction to mince. I will say it’s pretty dope that he put that whistle with the initial on the shoes.

  • http://www.zwani.com/graphics/funny_pictures/images/88funny-pictures128.jpg JAY

    Can’t believe I’m about to say this…. cosign BRUCE.

  • haslem

    kinda want to read about John Walls story now…

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