DALLAS - Rick Carlisle would cringe at hearing me say this, but it was true: Circa 1986, he was one of the best basketball players in the world.
Oh, sure, he only averaged 10 minutes per game that year, but the bench he was riding on belonged to the vaunted Boston Celtics. If you were on an NBA team in 1986, you were probably pretty good.
But you weren't better than Michael Jordan, as a clip from ESPN’s landmark documentary “The Last Dance' demonstrates oh-so-painfully for Carlisle, now the esteemed coach of the Dallas Mavericks.
In the first episode of the series highlighting the Bulls’ greatness, a quick clip shows young Carlisle, a scarcely-used reserve on the Celtics, assigned however briefly with guarding Jordan in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference first round.
It did not go well for Carlisle.
MJ head-fakes left and then spins baseline, easily losing Rick and then posterizing him with an easy dunk. ... which immediately went viral. ... complete with the announcer voice-over joking, “Carlisle just wants his mommy.”
“There must have been an exhaustive search to find footage of me actually PLAYING in an NBA playoff game,” Carlisle joked this week to ESPN via text message.
Mavs guard Jalen Brunson got a piece of his coach ...
And now it's all history - as it the fact that Carlisle's Celtics beat MJ and went on to win the NBA title. And then, as coach of the Mavs, Rick eventually won another ring. Yes, Carlisle averaged just 2.2 points per game in five seasons as a player, but as a coach, he ranks 16th all-time with 791 NBA victories.
And when the next episode of “The Last Dance” airs? There will surely be a series of other poor souls getting dunked on by Michael Jordan.