The competitive nature of Michael Jordan is legendary. No matter what he competes in or who he competes against, Jordan wants to win. This is what drove him to win six NBA titles. That’s what drove him to win five NBA MVP awards. And that’s what drove him to win a 3v3 game featuring country music legend Kenny Rogers.
That’s right. In the late 1980s, Jordan participated in a three-on-three charity game hosted by Rogers that featured some of the biggest NBA superstars of the time. And looking back at the highlights, you’d think Jordan was in Game 7 of the NBA Finals. Yes, I am fully aware that Jordan has never played Game 7 in the final, but that is not the point here. The point is, MJ was in full MJ mode during this game and (unsurprisingly) seemed to take it very personally when Rogers hit him with a fake pump and emptied a jumper.
Kenny Rogers hosted a three-day event in the late 1980s and early 1990s
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Rogers hosted an annual three-day fundraising event near his home in Georgia called “Kenny Rogers Classic Weekend, which included live music, fishing, golf, tennis and a little three-on-three basketball. Think about MTV Rock’n’Jock before it was a real thing.
And Rogers has some big names to come forward. Beyond Jordan, who attended the event for three consecutive years from 1988 to 1990, “The Gambler” made appearances for Larry Bird, Dominique Wilkins and Isiah Thomas, all of whom were major NBA stars. at their peak. Payne Stewart has arrived. John McEnroe was there. Actors such as Woody Harrelson and Mark Harmon have made appearances. It was a big deal, so big that ABC even broadcast some of the events.
And in a three-on-three clash in 1988, Rogers himself was the big deal for a play.
Rogers rigged Michael Jordan and emptied a jumper in a three-on-three match
During the 1988 edition of “Kenny Rogers Classic Weekend”, the country music star led a team consisting of Wilkins, golfer Hubert Green and tennis player John Lloyd (each team had a sub), and faced the team consisting of Jordan, tennis player Kevin Curren, golfer Raymond Floyd and actor Lorenzo Lamas.
From the start, it’s clear that Jordan takes things a little more seriously than the rest as he stuffed home a miss from Kerr, which earned him a push from Wilkins, which he beat. at the NBA Slam Dunk Contest that year.
Played at 22, the game seemed to be tight throughout, and apparently halfway through Rogers passed up the sideline and lined up to shoot. Jordan, the 1988 NBA Defensive Player of the Year (and NBA MVP), came running out of the way as Rogers got into motion, only to watch himself fly like “The Gambler” pump-fake , bypassed (it was more like a James Harden trip), and emptied a 21-foot stand, much to the delight of the live crowd.
Legendary Los Angeles Lakers broadcaster Chick Hearn was on call (he told you it was a big deal) and said Rogers “put Jordan in the popcorn machine.” Awesome as always. And as you might expect, Jordan took it personally and then took over.
Jordan took over and led his team to a 22-20 victory
While Jordan didn’t get the blockage he was looking for (and you know he really was) on Rogers’ jump attempt, he certainly did get one the next time around when Kenny drove the track. . Guess Rogers didn’t know when to ‘hold’ them this time around, did he? Sorry, it had to be done.
As the match drew to a close, Jordan struck a circus stunt in the lane, which sent the crowd into a frenzy. With the game tied at 18, Jordan got another block, but Rogers was there to pick up the ball and put it down to give his team a 20-18 lead. On the possession that followed, MJ hit a 15-footer to tie the game at 20.
With a chance to win the game, Rogers hit Green with a solid, wraparound pass in the lane, but Jordan came in flying to ward off Green’s attempted layup. Wilkins recovered the ball but missed a shot from the foul line, which Lamas rebounded. And in the possession that followed, Jordan showed no mercy as he punched Rogers off the baseline, tongue sticking out and all, and hit a layup to give his team a 22 win. -20, pumping his fist after after just getting an NBA championship.
Where was this story for The last dance?
Statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference
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