After being called out by Michael Jordan during his Hall of Fame speech, Bryon Russell hit back and challenged MJ to a 1-on-1 game. According to Russell, Jordan "chickened out."
Widely regarded as arguably the greatest basketball shot ever made, “The Last Shot” during Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals is a thing of beauty. While MJ is being glorified whenever it plays on documentaries and media platforms such as YouTube, some of us couldn’t help but wonder how hard it is to be Bryon Russell, the man on the other end of the timeless NBA highlight.
When the historic NBA Finals moment occurred, Jordan was still with the , and Russell was with the . It was MJ’s final game as a Bull - he joined the Washington Wizards when he made his second NBA comeback in 2001. It’s safe to say nobody expected it, but destiny fooled around a bit with MJ and Russell as they became teammates in Washington the following season.
As expected, Jordan bullied Russell over the controversial yet undeniably epic shot in Utah in 1998. Former Wizards center Brendan Haywood happened to witness it once and vividly recalled “His Airness” , “”
Jordan and Russell were teammates for only one season. And evidently, it was a very short period of time for the pair to be able to bury the hatchet and move on. In fact, during his Hall of Fame speech in 2009, MJ ripped Russell once again.
“From this day forward, if I ever see [Bryon] in shorts, I’m coming at him.”
This time, Jordan’s comments did not go unnoticed. Shortly after that speech, Russell clapped back and issued a serious and detailed “1-on-1” game challenge for MJ.
“” Russell said via in 2009. “”
Russell even directed Jordan to get his phone number from a mutual friend if he decided he was up for the challeng
As taunting as Russell’s challenge was, it became apparent that it wasn’t enough to get Jordan’s competitive juices flowing. Four years later, reported that Russell claimed MJ “” from his challenge, quoting the former Jazz guard saying, “”
The report stated that Russell said the six-time NBA champion did not give any specific reason why but “”
Who would've won in 2009 and in 2013? We'll never know. (My money is on MJ) However, one thing we can be sure about is that Russell was never in MJ’s realm.