In the annals of NBA history, few players can claim to have gone head-to-head with Michael Jordan and come out victorious. Not just on the basketball court but also in terms of making a bold statement. One such player was B.J. Armstrong, who, during the 1991 season, took a remarkable stand against the basketball legend himself.
In a moment of resistance, Armstrong swore to never pass the ball to Michael Jordan. This bold move, born out of frustration, showcased the tensions that occasionally steamed beneath the surface of the Chicago Bulls dynasty. Additionally, It marked the beginning of Armstrong’s remarkable journey toward NBA stardom.
Here is B.J Armstrong, MJ’s teammate, excitedly explaining why MJ was a really bad & super exploitable team defender.
So MJ couldn’t handle quick guards or anyone that can run & shoot?
But y’all were talking about him being better than #6 because he got more All Def teams?
— Letting Go (@ProvideContext) May 11, 2022
Jordan was not always the easiest teammate to play with. His relentless competitiveness, a burning desire to take every shot, and a demanding nature sometimes cast a shadow over his brilliance. This tension within the Chicago Bulls was well-documented in the “The Jordan Rules” book.
Sam Smith wrote in his book, “Armstrong knew what he had to do. “When I get it,” he told Grant, “I’m shooting it. Jordan doesn’t get it from me. ” “Me, too, ” said Grant. “Watch me against New York. I’ll shoot it every time I get it, “.
Armstrong, in his sophomore season, played as a backup point guard and was already a vital part of the bench, averaging 8.8 points and 3.7 assists per game. However, he and Grant felt that Jordan’s 22 shot attempts per game were excessive. The frustration brewed, and the two teammates made a pact before an upcoming game against the New York Knicks – they would not share the ball with Jordan.
B.J. Armstrong became an All-Star after Michael Jordan retired
Despite their intentions to freeze Jordan out, it didn’t go as planned. Jordan, in characteristic fashion, launched 30 shots in the game, ultimately contributing 34 points to secure a 101-91 victory over the Knicks.
Armstrong and Grant did play their part, making 19 points combined. However, the message was clear: Jordan would not be easily sidelined. Notably, these two were not the only Bulls players who had complaints about Jordan.
Scottie Pippen, who was a great friend of Jordan, and won six championships together spoke about how he was a horrible player to play with. Scottie candidly said, “You guys seen him play, he was a horrible player. He was horrible to play with, he was all one-on-one”. The two don’t even speak to each other anymore.
Furthermore, with Jordan’s retirement after the 1992-1993 season, the NBA landscape shifted dramatically. For B.J. Armstrong, this marked the beginning of his own rise. In 1994, he had his breakout season, earning his place as an NBA All-Star. Armstrong’s statistics soared as he averaged 14.8 points and 3.9 assists per game, often attempting 12 shots per game.
The absence of Jordan allowed Armstrong to step out of the shadows and shine. He proved that he was not just a supporting cast member but a capable star in his own right. The decision to assert himself and take control of the game, even if it meant sidelining Jordan temporarily, had clearly paid off for Armstrong.