Ainge: Jordan Didn't 'Want Anyone Thinking They Belong on the Court' with Him

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMay 12, 2020

PORTLAND, OR - CIRCA  1992: Michael Jordan #9 of the United States Senior Men's team dribbles against Cuba during the 1992 Basketball Tournament of Americas at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum circa 1992 in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 1992 NBAE (Photo by Brian Drake/NBAE via Getty Images)
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No matter the stakes or situation, Michael Jordan never wanted his supremacy on the hardwood to be in question. 

Boston Celtics general manager Danny Ainge recounted to ESPN's Jackie MacMullan when he played golf with Jordan during the 1992 offseason. The two got in 36 holes before Jordan represented the United States against Cuba in the Tournament of the Americas.

Jordan only scored six points in Team USA's 136-57 win, but Ainge was impressed by MJ's effort level:

"I get to the game and I'm beat. The sun was really hot that day. I'm sitting there watching Michael, and he was just unbelievable. He was picking up guys full court on every possession for the entire 30 minutes he played. I couldn't believe how much energy he had.

"We played golf the next day, too, and I asked him, 'Why were you playing so hard in an exhibition game?' And he told me, 'I don't want anyone thinking they belong on the court with me.'"

The U.S. rolled to a championship in the Tournament of Americas, winning all six of its games. Jordan averaged 12.7 points and 3.8 rebounds.

One month later, the members of the Dream Team were Olympic gold medalists in Barcelona.

Jordan may be the greatest basketball player of all time, but his dominance didn't extend to the golf course. Chuck Daly, who coached the Dream Team, told 60 Minutes about how he bested Jordan while they were in Spain for the 1992 Olympics.

Jordan added it felt like when Daly's Detroit Pistons had bested his Chicago Bulls during the late 1980s and early '90s.