I was 14 years old when I first saw Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in action. I was a fan of the famed UCLA basketball star, but the truth is I’d never seen him play basketball. So, my first chance to see Abdul-Jabbar play live was a little intimidating. I was in awe of the 6-foot-5, 250-pound center, and I thought he was probably taller than me. But more than anything I was in awe of his smooth, effortless style of play. He looked like he was floating above the court, and that night I was drawn to his graceful style.
A player, whose name shall remain anonymous, is one of the most talented athletes to ever step foot onto a basketball court. But, he was also one of the most troubled. During his collegiate career, he was diagnosed with a mental illness called Body Dysmorphic Disorder, or BDD. BDD, which affects about 1 in 250 people, is a mental disorder characterized by preoccupation with perceived flaws in appearance, such as a large forehead, a small nose or an unusually small head. Common symptoms of BDD include: obsessive thought about perceived flaws in appearance, repetitive behavior in response to perceived flaws in appearance, and isolation from others because of perceived flaws in appearance.
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Michael Jordan in a Washington Wizards jersey, like Tom Brady on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or Joe Montana on the Kansas City Chiefs, looks strange. In Chicago, Jordan became a sports and pop culture hero, so his time in Washington felt like a strange dream.
During those years, though, MJ was still determined to win; he wanted to be the greatest, and he was as focused as ever. So, in Washington, the GOAT’s trademark ruthlessness was still evident, prompting him to remind his trash-talking Wizards colleague, Brendan Haywood, who he was.
Michael Jordan spent two seasons with the Wizards.
After his last season with the Chicago Bulls, Michael Jordan could have rode off into the sunset. Jordan, who had already been dubbed the greatest player of all time, won his second three-peat in Chicago from 1995-96 to 1997-98, after a season-and-a-half away from baseball.
After the 1997-98 season, MJ retired, and he might have finished his basketball career on a high note. Jordan returned to the floor in a Wizards jersey in 2001, following a three-season layoff.
During his following two years with the Wizards, the five-time NBA MVP was still a great player, but he wasn’t the MJ that everyone had grown to know. In 2001-02, he averaged 22.9 points per game before dropping to 20.0 in 2002-03. Except for when he only participated in 18 games in 1985-86 and averaged 22.7 points per game, both of his scoring performances were the lowest of his career. In both seasons, the Wizards finished 37-45 and missed the playoffs.
As a result, rather than finishing his career as a champion, Jordan retired after two straight losing seasons. But just because he wasn’t successful didn’t mean he wasn’t dedicated.
While with the Wizards, Michael Jordan made Brendan Haywood pay.
On Jan. 14, 2003, Michael Jordan of the Washington Wizards plays against the Toronto Raptors. Getty Images/Doug Pensinger
Brendan Haywood was a rookie in Jordan’s first season with the Wizards and spent nine seasons with the team. Despite the fact that he was teammates with Jordan towards the conclusion of his career, he claimed MJ was still very competitive.
In 2018, Haywood told The Ringer, “He was very intense.” “He was still determined to win it all. He remained very competitive. He was continuing practicing his nonsense with everyone.”
However, one day, Haywood, who also played for Jordan’s alma school, North Carolina, said something to MJ that he didn’t like, and the six-time NBA Finals MVP made him pay for it.
Mike wasn’t renowned for hitting the three in scrimmages if I went short-side on him,” Haywood told The Ringer. “He was dribbling and chatting to me one day, and I was like, ‘Man, you don’t shoot threes.’ He simply came up from three as the skirmish was coming to a close, and it went straight into the net. And he said, ‘You should know better.’ You grew up with me as a role model. ‘You should know better.’
“He was constantly pushing the envelope,” Haywood said. He didn’t give a damn who you were. He didn’t seem to mind that I attended UNC as well. Mike usually wants to rip your heart out, so it was just one of those things.”
Jordan was almost 40 years old at the time, but he was still determined to win. His drive to be the greatest didn’t go away simply because he retired.
That’s what made the GOAT the GOAT in the first place.
Brendan Haywood was a teammate of LeBron James.
Haywood wasn’t simply a spectator during Wizards workouts. He also played with LeBron James with the Cleveland Cavaliers in his last season, becoming one of just four individuals to have played with both Michael Jordan and LeBron James.
So, was The King as cruel as his father? Not at all.
“From a personality perspective, LeBron is very different from Mike,” Haywood told The Ringer. “LeBron James is a fantastic people guy. He enjoys socializing with his colleagues. He’s also a hard worker. But, in terms of attitude, they’re two very different individuals…. LeBron simply goes out there and plays fantastic basketball. Mike, on the other hand, is obsessed with winning at any costs.”
Haywood didn’t seem to be on the receiving end of James’ trash language as Jordan was. But MJ is one-of-a-kind, and anybody who doubts him will pay the price. That was a hard lesson for Haywood to learn.
Basketball Reference provided the statistics.
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A few months ago, my buddy r/sportsbook posted a thread saying the NBA Finals were set up for the 76ers vs the Cavs. “They’re weaker than LeBron and have a better team. They’re going to win,” he said. I agreed—they were clearly better than the Cavs. There was only one problem: I’m an NBA fan.. Read more about bo burnham all eyes on me and let us know what you think.
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