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In our final look at famous Jordan instigators, there’s Rockets guard Vernon Maxwell. Nicknamed “Mad Max” for his erratic, volatile attitude and play (not for his rambling rants during traffic stops like a certain other "Mad Max"), Maxwell saved his greatest head-case moments for confrontations with Jordan.
He relished trying to demonize Jordan, and although he was largely unsuccessful at it, his effort certainly left an imprint on the Bulls legend. Jordan paid the mercurial shooting guard some props for his maniacal attempts to deny him glory:
It's true that I wake up every day expecting that sort of challenge, but it's still a challenge. When I feel like a guy is trying to take some of the respect away that I've earned in seven or eight years in the league, then that's a challenge.
Jordan’s own pathological need to create challenges aside, Maxwell genuinely would go after Jordan. In the 1990-91 season, Maxwell and Jordan swung a series of elbows at one another and in 1993, Maxwell competently held MJ to 12-of-27 shooting with aid from Hakeem Olajwuon. But in the end, Jordan knew the key to getting the best of Mad Max:
"Against Vernon, you've got to get inside his head. I've got to out-think him when he's guarding me. I've got to use my mental knowledge against him.''
I'd say MJ successfully got inside his head.