Michael Jordan, the NBA legend and all-time great, was a fierce competitor. He loved to taunt opponents in practice but he also had an intense fear of one particular opponent nicknamed ‘The Lumberjack’ who would hit him with his elbows constantly during games.
Michael Jordan admitted his fear of a man nicknamed The Lumberjack but still taunted him anyway.
The term “Michael Jordan” conjures up images of an almost indestructible force with a completely impenetrable outer shell and a fearless demeanor. Former Chicago Bulls centers, on the other hand, always seemed to elicit an additional response from MJ.
With people like Bill Cartwright and Will Perdue, His Airness had an on-again, off-again relationship. He had an odd relationship with Luc Longley as well. Michael Jordan’s odd relationships with Bulls centers stretch back to his first few of NBA seasons, when he was especially cautious of Dave “The Lumberjack” Corzine.
In 1986, when Michael Jordan was still recuperating from a broken foot, he got into an altercation with Dave Corzine during a Bulls practice.
Michael Jordan’s early Chicago Bulls teams needed a little nudge in the right direction. After all, before choosing MJ No. 3 overall in the 1984 NBA Draft, the Bulls had won 56 games in a row.
Jordan’s outstanding individual performance and unrivaled competitiveness aided Chicago’s progress. In his first season, the Bulls won 38 games and reached the playoffs. Jordan was sidelined for the most of his second season due to a fractured foot sustained early in the 1985-86 season.
Without their youthful superstar, the Bulls struggled to regain their footing. At the conclusion of the regular season, they needed to put together a winning streak. As a result, when Jordan returned, he set out to instill some fighting spirit in his colleagues. Literally.
During a practice in April 1986, Jordan got into an altercation with several teammates, shortly before a crucial game against the Washington Bullets. Before almost colliding with Dave Corzine, whose massive build and facial hair gave him the moniker “The Lumberjack,” he screamed at former Bulls swingman Orlando Woolridge.
Corzine and MJ became caught beneath the hoop, according to the Chicago Tribune. Corzine didn’t appear to notice the altercation at first, but went after Jordan when the rookie Bulls player continued to insult him. Others on the squad had to restrain him.
Jordan had succeeded in igniting the passions of his colleagues. He wouldn’t dare to challenge Corzine in a fair battle, though.
Jordan had no desire to go toe-to-toe with Corzine.
Both photos courtesy of Focus on Sport via Getty Images. Michael Jordan (L) and Dave Corzine (R)
Michael Jordan didn’t shy away from the physical aspect of his game. Reggie Miller, Danny Ainge, Greg Anthony, and others were among the players he mixed it up with. Of course, the Bulls’ star had to contend with “Bad Boy” Detroit Pistons squads as well.
Jordan, on the other hand, was uninterested in squabbling with Corzine. He told the Tribune after the incident that he wouldn’t have the courage to stand and bang with the experienced center.
“I wasn’t going to go to war with Corzine.” If I did, I’d go after him and beat him. I’m wearing my sneakers, as you can see. I was simply trying to get the men to work harder. Corzine may be a huge man, but I have a lot of heart. Besides, I made sure there were four of us in all.”
-Michael Jordan, via Chicago Tribune, 1986
Even though backup Bulls center Mike Smrek said he had “never” seen Corzine become so furious, he appeared to grasp Jordan’s goal. “The Lumberjack,” on the other hand, shrugged the event aside.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Corzine stated at the time, “It was no big thing.” ”We don’t have any personal issues between us. It’s simply something that occurs. Every day during practice, you’re arguing with someone and losing your cool. It was a tough drill that prepared us for the Bullets.”
Realistically, Corzine must have realized that a second-year guard like Jordan, no matter how athletic or fiery, would never really want to fight him. That had to make it easier for him to forgive and forget.
The Bulls reached the playoffs, and Michael Jordan delivered one of his most memorable performances.
Michael Jordan encouraged scrappiness among his teammates, which paid off against the Bullets.
Despite scoring 31 points, Chicago shot the ball horribly, with Jordan shooting only 12-of-36 from the field. The Bulls, on the other hand, collected a staggering 23 offensive rebounds, with Dave Corzine grabbing six of them. The Bulls’ rebounding prowess allowed them to remain in the game long enough for John Paxson to make a game-winning shot in the final seconds.
The Bulls secured a playoff berth with the win, earning a grueling matchup against the Boston Celtics. Jordan answered magnificently in Game 2, setting a new record with 63 points at the old Boston Garden. Despite the fact that Chicago was swept, Jordan’s performance placed him on the map for superstars like Larry Bird and Magic Johnson.
Jordan’s brawl with Corzine served as a metaphor for the methods he’d use to inspire his teammates throughout his career. But he was also aware that, all things being equal, he wouldn’t have a chance against “The Lumberjack.”
Basketball Reference provided the statistics.
RELATED: Before Closing the 1992 NBA Finals in Style, Michael Jordan Watched His Replacement Lead the Bulls on a Critical Run in Game 6: ‘Good job, I’ll drive us home.’
Michael Jordan Admitted His Fear of a Man Called “The Lumberjack,” but Still Taunted Him: “I’d Hit Him and Run” first appeared on Sportscasting – Pure Sports.
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