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The 80s was an era dominated by two NBA legends: Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. Although Michael Jordan was starting to make a name for himself in the collegiate ranks, he was still far from becoming "Air Jordan." However, Bird knew it was only a matter of time before Jordan entered their ranks, and he made sure to make his presence felt.
Former Sports Illustrated writer Curry Kirkpatrick once told the story of one of Bird's first interactions with Jordan. The setting was an exhibition game between the Olympic-bound men's basketball squad—which was then being bannered by collegiate players—and a team of NBA players led by Bird, Johnson, Isaiah Thomas, and Bill Walton, to name a few.
Show Jordan who's the man
According to Kirkpatrick, the two teams were warming up when a ball belonging to the collegiate players bounced over to the pro side.
"Early in the warmups, and the ball bounced down from the college end of the floor to the pro end. Then Michael Jordan went down to chase it," Kirkpatrick said.
"The ball had to be picked up by Larry Bird. And Michael went up a few feet away and held out his hands, and Bird took the ball and fired it back down the court over Jordan's head as if to say, 'you're not only not getting this ball, I don't give a damn who you are.'"
Collegiate guys dominated
The collegiate team, which also had Chris Mullin, Sam Perkins, and Patrick Ewing, was not fazed by the antics of the pros and went on to win all eight matches of the exhibition series.
It was a harbinger of things to come as Jordan went on to lead the squad to a gold medal in the 1984 Olympics. Not long after, he got drafted by the Chicago Bulls and went on to become, arguably, the greatest basketball player of all time.