In 2012, Sports Illustrated featured an excerpt entitled "Greatest Game Nobody Ever Saw" from Jack McCallum's book Dream Team. It detailed a Team USA scrimmage in Monte Carlo before the 1992 Olympics.
There are endless stories that magnify Jordan's competitive nature, but this scrimmage featuring the world's best players—including Magic Johnson, Charles Barkley and Karl Malone—has become legendary. The gym was nearly empty while the best basketball players on the globe went at each other.
Jordan reminisced on this game by saying, "It was the most fun I ever had on a basketball court."
The excerpt provides the details of this bout between Jordan's squad and Johnson's. Not only was Jordan on his A-game in terms of production, but his smack talk and competitive fire were also distinctly evident. It didn't matter if hardly anyone was watching. Jordan always wanted to win, and this story summarizes his mindset.
The game concluded with Jordan's team winning, but the fun had only begun for MJ. He began singing, "If I could be like Mike" from his own Gatorade commercial. He kept singing it even on the bus back to the hotel.
It was quintessential Jordan, thriving on his unparalleled will to win while also cherishing the victory in his own Jordan-esque manner. And it didn't matter that the world wasn't watching. This was who Jordan was, all the time.
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, an assistant coach on the 1992 Olympic squad, recalled the game vividly:
A lot of players talk trash because the TV cameras are on. But the doors on that day were closed. This was just you against me. This is what I got -- whatta you got? It taught me a lot about accepting personal challenges. You know, if somebody could've taped the sound track of the game, not necessarily recorded the basketball but just the sounds, it would be priceless.
Jordan reflected on it further with much appreciation:
In many ways, it was the best game I was ever in. Because the gym was locked and it was just about basketball. You saw a lot about players' DNA, how much some guys want to win. Magic was mad about it for two days.
Johnson added this:
Let me tell you something -- it would've been worse for everybody if he lost. Because I could let something go after a while. But Michael? He'd never let it go. He never let anything go.
There are loads of entertaining stories about MJ, but this one identifies his persona and what made him unique.