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The “LaBradford Smith” Game: The Time Michael Jordan Took it Personally

Michael Jordan Refused To Be Called The GOAT: "When They Start Comparing Who's The Best Of All Time, I Never Can Accept That."

The COVID-19 pandemic shut everything down for a few months. Times were tough for everybody, and many folks wondered if things would ever get back to normal.

The one positive outcome of the shutdown during the pandemic would be that this was the moment the world discovered what happens when Michael Jordan takes something personal.

The highly anticipated, The Last Dance, came out on April 19, 2020, and it took over the world by storm.

Young basketball fans who never got a chance to watch Jordan play had their chance to witness the greatness of the G.O.A.T. and one of those traits was when someone “upset” his Airness.

The Last Dance showed a few stories of when Jordan took it personally, but one story, in particular, is the topic of this article.

The incident happened in 1993, against the Washington Bullets…


LaBradford Smith

It was March 19, 1993, and the Washington Bullets were in Chicago getting ready to play the two-time defending champion Bulls.

Nobody figured the Bullets would have a shot to win, and in fact, they didn't. The Bulls defeated the Bullets 104-99, but the attention from the media after the game wasn't directed toward a Bull.

Even in the loss, second-year man LaBradford Smith, out of the University of Louisville, had himself a game.

Despite the fact his team lost, Smith scored a career-high 37 points on 15-for-20 from the field and 7-for-7 from the free-throw line.

Not only did Smith go off in the game, but he also did it against the G.O.A.T. Now, while Smith was firing on all cylinders, Jordan struggled from the field.

Jordan scored 25 points on just 9-27 from the field. It was one of those rare off days for Jordan, which normally would've gone unnoticed since the Bulls won.

But since Smith had his career game, this became a big deal, and Smith knew it.

“LaBradford Smith was trying to tell the reporters at postgame to not make a big deal out of it,” Will Perdue said in an episode of the Bulls Talk Podcast back in May 2020.

“But because it was a career-high, they [the reporters] basically wanted him to say things. And he kinda was hoping that they would kind of brush it aside and be like, ‘Aw, heck, I got lucky.’ But they wanted to make a big deal about, 'Yo, man, you scored a career-high on Michael Jordan.'”

The players on the Bulls also knew this was a big deal and that a storm was brewing. Perdue went on to say this about how he and his teammates reacted:

“We were talking in the locker room about just, when Michael gets the ball, just get the hell out of the way. Cause he's just gonna go at LaBradford time and time again. And it was kind of like an unwritten rule that everybody knows that Michael has that stat sheet in his back pocket, in his sock. He knows exactly how many points LaBradford scored, and he wants to get that many or more in the first half.”

That was going to be Jordan's plan for the next game against the Bullets, which just so happened to be the next night in Washington. Jordan was going to score, in the first half, what Smith scored total in the last game.

“Nice Game, Mike”

It's been reported that after the game on March 19, Smith approached Jordan as they walked off the court and said, “Nice game, Mike”.

As The Last Dance revealed, Smith never said this to Jordan. In fact, Jordan made it up in his head as a way to get himself motivated.

Jordan would play with a sense of motivation only he seemed to bring to the court. In the first half, Jordan jumped all over Smith, hitting from all angles.

Jordan started the game shooting 8-8 from the field, and he wouldn't stop shooting.

There was nothing the Bullets could do or anyone on planet Earth to stop Jordan in this first half.

Jordan's mission of scoring in the first half of what Smith scored in the last game nearly happened.

With about two seconds remaining in the first half, Jordan went to the line to shoot two free-throws. He sank the first one, which gave him 36 in the half. The second free-throw bounced out and Jordan finished one shy of Smith's previous performance… not bad.

Jordan didn't play much in the second half as the Bulls were destroying the Bullets. The Bulls won the game by a score of 126-101.

Jordan ended up with 47 points on 16-for-27 shooting, including 2-2 from three-point land.

Smith, on the other hand, scored only 15 while shooting 5-for-12 from the field.

LaBradford Smith learned a valuable lesson on that night. Never anger the G.O.A.T., because he will take it personally.

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