Do you know the story of the greatest one-on-one game that never happened? Back in the 90s, when Magic Johnson was the best player in the league, and Michael Jordan was trying to surpass him. Considering this, two promoters came up with the idea of a clash between these stars, trying to get a ridiculous amount of attention and money.
Lou DiBella and Seth Abraham presented this idea of the Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls legends going at it in a one-on-one duel that never came to fruition. It all started with the idea of DiBella and Abraham. Johnson liked it and he got on board quickly.
Jordan liked the idea and joined the trio of enthusiasts. In an interview, he showed how confident he was he could beat Magic.
"Not to sound cocky, I must admit I would have to have the advantage being that I would be a little bit quicker and able to use a lot more weapons than he may."
Although the two players were all-in for the game, they needed to overcome a big obstacle: the NBA. The league wasn't too pleased to see two of their biggest figures doing such a big event without them organizing it.
"I believe that this sets a bad precedent," Isaiah Thomas, National Basketball Players Association president, said at the time.
"We’re not interested in seeing our players being promoted like fighters in Las Vegas," Gary Bettman, then a lawyer for the NBA, added.
In the end, several factors against the event piled up, and things fell apart. Added to the league's concerns about this precedent, Jordan thought things through and decided it wasn't a good idea for him. Winning or losing, he wouldn't have ended in a good position.
David Falk recalls Jordan saying: “If I win, people will say, ‘So, what do you expect? That’s what Michael is—he’s a one-on-one player.’ And if I lose, then I don’t have the rings or the title. So what’s the point of doing it?”
This event never happened, and it won't, at least not with the same intensity it had in the 90s. Jordan and Johnson retired several years ago after having impressive careers; we never got to see this King of the Court event but that would have been unforgettable.
The closest thing we've had to this in recent times was the H.O.R.S.E competitions the league held last season, and that didn't work for them. So we can only imagine Magic and Mike going at it in front of thousands of fans now.