Lost amid the LeBron James and Kobe Bryant 1-on-1 section of Michael Jordan‘s now-well-publicized “uncensored” interview with Ahmad Rashad to promote the release of NBA 2K14, was the anecdote Jordan told about showing then-high school prep star O.J. Mayo the business. Mayo confirms Jordan’s re-telling and explains why he stoked the GOAT’s competitive fire.
Thankfully for all of us, Larry Brown Sports unearthed footage from Jordan’s camp at UCSB on the day described. The video shows Jordan running a clinic on Mayo when he was the top high school prospect in the country.
A tipster reached out to Larry Brown Sports to confirm MJ’s story. They also provided video evidence of MJ hitting a serious of shots over a powerless Mayo, including one at the buzzer to win a scrimmage against Mayo in front of his campers. The video doesn’t show the 1-on-1 battle Jordan mentions in his chat with Rashad. But it’s still a reminder of Jordan’s dominance long after he retired for the last time.
“Then he said, ‘OK, now let me handle my business.’ He looked me in my face and said that. I’m like, ‘What you mean?’ So he said, ‘I need all the campers and everybody to leave the gym.’
“We continued playing pick-up. Mike was Mike. He was jawing a little bit, really getting into me defensively. He’s backing me down. He said, ‘Better scream for mama. Mama. Mama.’ Hit the famous fadeaway on me. I said, ‘OK, OK, you’ve got it going.’
“He said, ‘OK, young fella, let me tell you something. You may be the best high school player in the world, but I’m the greatest ever. Don’t you ever disrespect the great like that.’
Mayo also lets us know why he would talk trash to MJ.
“At the end of the day, people ask, ‘Why would you talk smack to GOAT? Why would you talk smack to Mike? At the end of the day, it’s still basketball. You definitely respect everything Mike’s done for the game. But when you’re a young buck and you get a chance to go at the top, I kind of had the mentality that I had everything to gain and nothing to lose. Mike did what he had to do.”
The naiveté of youth always leads to a brash confidence, but Mayo goes above and beyond; except, it’s that type of confidence we expect in the very best. We know MJ was annoyed by Mayo’s boasting, but “Mike did what he had to do.” Amen.
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