We’ve heard it for years; there’s never been anyone quite like Michael Jordan in the NBA. Players have tried and some have actually been effective guarding him in spurts, but he’s the epitome of the term “you can’t stop him, you can only hope to contain him.” So, allowing a 30-piece to MJ was an accomplishment for opposing defenses.
One player who was considered a good defender and held his own against Jordan was former Houston Rockets sniper Vernon “Mad Max” Maxwell. The former Florida Gators star had no fear and was hardly intimidated by the legend of His Airness. But in retrospect, Maxwell discusses how difficult it was guarding someone that good, that relentless and that athletic.
During a recent interview on “No Chill With Gilbert Arenas Show,” Maxwell talked about his battles with Jordan.
“Man when you look at that s**t, when they bring out the schedule in the summertime, when they put them goddamn schedules out, you look and you put that mark on Chicago and the night before, you ask me, it’s sleepless nights, man that sh*t be rough.”
“I mean, think about that s**t what you got to do tomorrow, and you don’t wanna get embarrassed, and you know this ninja don’t know how to stop coming at you, just like you, just keep coming and coming, keep that foot on your throat, man, and he just keep coming, man.”
Maxwell is speaking of the relentless style of play that MJ always displayed, coming for the neck of his opponent. He possessed that killer instinct, which went into overdrive when he smelled blood.
Maxwell Says Defending Jordan Is DIFFICULT
To no one’s surprise, Maxwell saying defending MJ was difficult is what we’ve all come to know, but hearing it from someone who actually did a pretty good job against MJ is somewhat fascinating.
“I mean you just have to do try and do some sh*t to him that nobody else ever did to try to get him off his square, but you know you can’t touch him, man, so I tried to do s**t that nobody else would do to him, but Mike is Mike, man, the best player I ever played, because I never thought I’d see nothing like that, man.”
Did you know that the Houston Rockets were 5-1 vs the Chicago Bulls during their first 3-peat and here is a big reason why. Listen as Mad Max talks about what he used to say to Michael Jordan before they would play. #thelastdance @VernonMaxwell11 pic.twitter.com/HYlKiu7KE4
— 2-ONE (@TKOBOXING) April 20, 2020
Mad Max would try to rile MJ up pregame by saying things to him, and he even talked hella junk to him during the game, hoping to get under his skin and take him out of his game, often to no avail, but he and the Rockets did go 5-1 versus the Bulls while they were three-peating from 1991-93.
Jordan Didn’t Feed Into The Antics Of Mad Max
MJ was too smart to fall for the bait and played through the antagonistic style that Maxwell offered.
“He really wouldn’t say much to me. I was trying to get him rattled and say s**t to him, I was like, ‘Damn, bleep, you ain’t gonna say nothing,’ you know, but when we and Mike we used to play each other, he used to post me up all the time.”
— The Ringer (@ringer) March 29, 2021
Cause I was like 6-foot-4 and s**t, and I was like the heaviest I’ve ever been in my life I was like 190 pounds, he was like 6-foot-6 and 218, and he use to post me up all the time and when he figured out that turnaround s**t and he would bleep me up with that, I don’t know, man, I don’t wanna talk about this bleep no more, man.”
As you can see, Maxwell battled Jordan but still came up on the short end of their individual battles. But MJ did have respect for Maxwell, calling him one of the toughest defenders he faced.