If you’ve been lucky enough to intake even a portion of the ESPN documentary “The Last Dance,” you know all too well that Michael Jordan is a hard man to intimidate. Jordan was never one to shy away from competition. In fact, he embraced it.
However, according to one of Jordan’s North Carolina teammates, there was one man that struck “a bit of fear” into the all-time great on the hardwood. Interestingly enough, that man wasn’t even a basketball player.
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Lawrence Taylor vs. Michael Jordan
Instead, that honor goes to arguably the second-most notable UNC alumn in school history, NFL Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor. Taylor attended North Carolina prior to being drafted by the New York Giants 2nd-overall in the 1981 draft. However, the 10-time Pro Bowler made frequent returns to campus in the years following, and was known to partake in a pickup game or two while visiting.
Buzz Peterson, Jordan’s college roommate and teammate, detailed the intriguing dynamic between the two all-time great athletes in a recent interview with The Athletic.
There is one guy that I always thought, and I know to this day — I don’t know if Michael won’t admit or not, but I swear that he had a little bit of fear of — and it wasn’t a basketball player. It was a football player by the name of Lawrence Taylor. LT, phenomenal athlete. Could guard east to west, as quick as anybody, could jump, big hands, strong and was a bit crazy. So Michael in the back of his mind said, ‘Shit, I better be careful with this guy.’ And LT always wanted to guard him.
LT’s Athletic Prowess Was 2nd-to-None
Saying Jordan feared anyone on the court may be the wrong terminology to use. However, to say that a man of Taylor’s freakish athletic abilities posed some trouble for MJ shouldn’t surprise many.
Especially when you take into account that Taylor was a 6-foot-3-inch, nearly 240-pound specimen, with a reported 4.60 speed in the forty. Taylor, whose 132.5 career sacks ranks 14th all-time, is by most accounts the greatest single defender to ever step foot on an NFL football field.
Bill Belichick, arguably the greatest coach of all-time, seems to agree with that sentiment. Here’s the New England Patriots Head Coach shutting down a reporter a few years back when they tried to draw a parallel between Taylor and Chicago Bears stud pass-rusher Khalil Mack.
“Now, wait a minute,” Belichick said. “We’re talking about Lawrence Taylor now. Yeah, I’m not putting anybody in Lawrence Taylor’s class. So, you can put everybody down below that. With a lot of respect to a lot of good players now, but we’re talking about Lawrence Taylor.”
Belichick certainly has a point. During his playing days, Taylor captured two Lombardi Trophies as well as Defensive Player of the Year on three separate occasions. If that wasn’t enough, he was voted league MVP in 1986, the only defensive player to receive such an honor over the past 48 years.