Aldridge: Michael Jordan Made Up LaBradford Smith Diss After Phil Jackson Remark

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistMay 11, 2020

LANDOVER, MD - CIRCA 1992:  LaBradford Smith #22 of the Washington Bullets dribbles the ball up court against the New York Knicks during an NBA basketball game circa 1992 at the Capital Centre in Landover, Maryland. Smith played for the Bullets from 1991-93. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** LaBradford Smith
Focus On Sport/Getty Images

One thing "The Last Dance" has showed about Michael Jordan is that he takes any slights against him as motivation, even if they aren't true.  

A story highlighted this in Sunday's episode when Washington Bullets guard LaBradford Smith scored 37 points against Jordan and the Chicago Bulls before saying "good game, Mike" afterwards. Jordan responded the next game against Washington with 36 points in the first half and 47 overall.

David Aldridge of The Athletic was around him postgame as a Washington Post reporter at the time and noted the comment from Smith never happened. Aldridge explained what actually occurred was a comment from the Bulls coach Phil Jackson that grew in his head:

"Phil Jackson, looking to motivate his superstar, gave it to Jordan pretty good in the team's postgame meeting after the first game about getting outclassed by a relative no-name. Somehow, that metastasized in Jordan's brain into Smith dissing him."

Jordan showcased similar motivation against players over the course of his career, including former teammates B.J. Armstrong and Horace Grant.