John Calipari recalls savage Michael Jordan warning during 1998 playoffs
The Last Dance has forced former foes of the great Michael Jordan to recount their best memories of playing against him. The latest to chime in is former New Jersey Nets head coach John Calipari, who recalled a savage moment with the Chicago Bulls and NBA icon.
Calipari appeared on Coffee With Cal where he recalled their 1998 first-round duel against Jordan and the Bulls. Calipari was already aware of the story on how Seattle Supersonics head coach George Karl ignored Jordan at a restaurant which the latter did not take lightly. MJ responded by pouncing on the Sonics en route to their 1996 NBA Finals win.
As a tough competitor himself, Calipari decided not to say anything to Jordan during a timeout. After the move, however, he would later realize it would cost them the series.
“He looked at me and (made an ‘0’ with his right hand). And I looked away from him and I look at Kenny Gatt and I’m saying, ‘Is he looking at me?’ So I look back up at him and he (made an ‘0’ with his right hand), and I go, ‘Kenny, what’s he talking about?’ (Gattison said), ‘I don’t think he’s going to let (shooting guard) Kerry Kittles score.’ And you’re right — he went from not guarding you to saying, ‘I’m shutting it,'” John Calipari said, as transcribed by Garrett Stepein of 247 Sports.
The Bulls swept the Nets 3-0 in the best-of-five first-round series in the NBA playoffs. Michael Jordan averaged 36.3 points on 52.9 percent shooting, along with 5.0 rebounds and 2.7 assists. Kerry Kittles, meanwhile, averaged 16.3 points on 42.5 percent shooting. In Game 1, he was held to 10 points on 17.6 percent shooting.