There’s never a bad time to hear another story about the mindset that drove Michael Jordan to become recognized as the greatest basketball player in the history of the game. Books like Sam Smith’s “The Jordan Rules” and David Halberstam’s “Playing For Keeps” chronicled Jordan’s pathological competitive drive during his playing days. As the years have passed, more former players have added their stories to continue the legend of Jordan.
Another Jordan story is making the rounds this week via former Timberwolves teammates Kevin Garnett and Isaiah Rider. The internet sliced up separate interviews of Garnett and Rider telling the same story about a 1996 game against Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.
Here’s the short version: Rider was having a great game, and Garnett, a rookie, was hyping him up. Garnett repeatedly told Rider to continuing going at Jordan. Jordan could hear the entire thing, and proceeded to dominate the fourth quarter and carry the Bulls to a blowout win.
JR Rider & Kevin Garnett talk about the time a young KG made the mistake of talking trash in front of MJ pic.twitter.com/VfL57upGhB— Jumpman History (@HistoryJumpman) February 20, 2020
Naturally, people have already identified the game. It happened on Feb. 27, 1996. The Bulls led, 82-76, going into the fourth quarter, and wound up winning, 120-99. Jordan finished with 35 points, seven assists, and six rebounds. You can find the full box score here.
Here’s the full game:
Here is an edited transcript of the video of Garnett and Rider telling the story:
Rider: So KG had never seen me play against Michael.
KG: We’re in Chicago. It’s my rookie year.
Rider: And I got about 24 going into the fourth quarter.
KG: JR is having a good game.
Rider: So I’m quiet, I always stayed quiet when I’m playing, I didn’t talk too much.
Rider: We come out in the fourth quarter and KG is like "Man, keeping going at his ass, serve him, he can’t guard you."
KG: "Keep killing him, keep killing him, straight up, you’re having a good game."
Rider: I was quiet, I’m looking at him like, just chill, because Mike was literally right there.
KG: He’s right here. Mike can hear me. So I double down.
Rider: (impersonating KG) "I don’t care. Keep going at him."
KG: As I say that, I feel it.
Rider: So Mike looks at me, looks at KG.
KG: Hands on hips, legs locked. And then he stares at me for about 15 seconds
Rider: I was like, "Mike, he don’t know the rules of the game, he’s just a young pup."
KG: I see him and Mike have a conversation. "He don’t really know, he’s excited."
Rider: Mike looked at him like OK. Looked at me like OK. I said, "What you lookin’ at me like that for?"
KG: I can’t even describe the next six, seven minutes of play, yo.
Rider: We went to the fourth quarter, that man got about 17 quick.
KG: We’re down 25 now, it was just at two.
Rider: He’s mad, looking at KG, looking at me, looking KG.
KG: It got bad quick.
KG: I’m like, "JR, my bad, dog. Sorry, man. I’m sorry." He said, "It’s good man, I told you shut your ass up"
KG: Mike came over like "Damn, young fella, damn, y’all done?" Never talked shit to Mike ever again in life.