Remember that time Utah Jazz legend Jeff Hornacek stopped Michael Jordan? We don’t either.
Michael Jordan is not on the Christmas list for many ex-Utah Jazz players and their multitude of fans. While as a player Jordan is arguably as great as they come, the denizens of Utah would rather not have him over for brunch anytime soon. Losing to arguably the best non-big in NBA history in back-to-back finals will do that to a fandom.
One player who likely still has nightmares of playing Jordan is Utah Jazz legend Jeff Hornacek who spoke about guarding Jordan firsthand. Speaking with Fox News’ online show “Guarding Jordan”, (via Basketball Network) Hornacek spoke candidly about needing “tricks” to slow Jordan down.
As the Ringer’s John Gonzalez documented, the keys to slowing Jordan down were;
- Make him shoot jumpers.
- Don’t make him mad.
- Hope he has an off night.
Hornacek would later go on to say;
"Your little pushes on him may have gotten him off balance a bit .but not enough to… He’d go in the post and shoot a fadeaway, turn-around jump shot that kind of became his real move that was impossible to stop. You weren’t going to stop that shot."
Hornacek and Byron Russell would combine to play a lot of minutes on Jordan, but despite that, neither man could really slow him down. Considering that Jordan averaged 44% from the floor in both Finals appearances against the Jazz, and averaged nearly 33 points per game while playing over 40 minutes, it’s really not surprising to see that the Jazz had a problem trying to slow him down.
It really takes the wind out of anyone’s sales who wants to act like Jordan wasn’t that good (looking at you, Scottie Pippen) or that Jordan isn’t the best non-big in the history of the game.