Michael Jordan once said, “Bird was showing me it was all business, and I was beneath him.” Larry Bird corrected him in 1984.

Before MJ ever played in the NBA, “Larry Legend” already had a message for him.

The USA men’s basketball team faced NBA All-Stars in a series of exhibition games prior to their 1984 Olympics participation. A group of collegiate players led by Michael Jordan stunned the pros, and the North Carolina product astounded the basketball community.


Even before he made his NBA debut, Michael Jordan made it clear that he was the next big thing. However, the likes of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird would not allow the up-and-coming talent to take their place so lightly. That’s why the latter used a single, uncomplicated gesture to put Jordan in his place.

“One evening in Indianapolis, an Olympic team ball rolled to the professional team’s end of the court during the pregame warm-up. Jordan went after it. It was picked up by Larry Bird. Bird smirked and booted the ball back over Jordan’s head rather than passing it to him. ‘Bird was showing me it was all business now, and I was beneath him,’ says Jordan. ‘Your world, and welcome to it. Curry Kirkpatrick wrote for Sports Illustrated, saying, “‘I didn’t forget.”

As members of the NBA team that faced off against college athletes, Magic and Bird went from defeating All-Stars to stomping the Olympic arena. They were, nevertheless, no match for Michael Jordan and company, as Team USA defeated the pros in eight straight games.


The All-Star team included the two aforementioned superstars as well as players like Isiah Thomas, Kevin McHale, Bill Walton, Robert Parish, James Worthy, and Clyde Drexler, however it changed every game.


Bob Knight’s squad did not include future Hall of Famers John Stockton, Karl Malone, or Charles Barkley. Instead, Jordan was joined by Chris Mullin, Sam Perkins, and Patrick Ewing.


Even though some of the omissions—most notably Barkley’s—were thought to be contentious, Knight managed to create the ideal team composition for Team USA. After skipping the 1980 tournament, they swept to a perfect 8-0 record and the gold medal at the Olympics a few weeks later.

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