There's no rite of passage in the NBA quite like being trash-talked by Michael Jordan. Forget being dunked on by LeBron, blocked by Dikembe or crossed over by Iverson—getting an earful from the GOAT is an experience every NBA player lucky enough to experience it will cherish forever. Especially the first time.
For SI TV's The Big Interview, SI.com's Chris Mannix spoke with Hornets All-Star point guard Kemba Walker about what it's like playing on a team owned by Jordan and what he remembers from his first interraction with the former Bulls legend. In true Jordan fashion, it involved throwing a little shade.
(To watch SI TV's full interview with Kemba Walker, click here.)
Chris Mannix: You’ve got the unique experience of playing on a team that’s owned by the greatest of all time. Your first interaction with Michael Jordan was when?
Kemba Walker: My first interaction with MJ was my draft workout here. I remember he was just sitting on the side. I was nervous, but I knew I had to try my best to impress him—I think I did. It was a really fun workout. All I remember was he was talking trash, which he usually does a lot. He was talking trash on the sideline, but it was fun.
Mannix: Talking trash to you how?
Walker: They put two balls on the floor and they were trying to have us palm the basketballs. And as I was going up he said, ‘Man, get out of here, you can’t palm the ball like that.’ I was like, ‘You’re right.’ I didn’t even try. [Laughs] I can’t palm it. But just stuff like that. He’s a good dude. He’s the best, man. Super down to earth. A really good guy to be around.
Mannix: Could you ever imagine as a kid that you would have unfettered access to Michael Jordan?
Walker: No, not at all. Some people ask me (about it). It’s still kind of surreal. Whenever he’s around, he’d just be standing there chilling. Just chilling. And I’m like, ‘That’s MJ.’ And you know, I can text him or call him anytime and he responds right away. That’s a special feeling to have. But like I said, it’s still kind of unreal at times. That’s the greatest player of all time right there. He’s just super down to earth. It’s unbelievable.