It's 1992, Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, Bulls vs. Knicks.
Though Detroit’s Bad Boys previously held the throne as the NBA villain, in ’92 it was New York that touted three of the league’s most infamous front-court enforcers in history – Charles Oakley, Anthony Mason, and Xavier McDaniel.
McDaniel took his typical approach of smack talk and body shots, leaving Scottie Pippen visibly shaken. Late in the 1st, after McDaniel slammed in to Pippen once again, Jordan had had enough - he moved Pippen aside and went head-to-head with McDaniel, sharing choice words and putting the bully in his place.
The tone of the game changed. Jordan's teammates fed off his competitive spirit, a spirit unrivaled by anyone compared to him since. Jordan then went to the rim every chance he got, landing his off elbow deep in the Knicks’ chests play after play. Jordan had an efficient 42 points without attempting one three and got to the line 13 times – a sign he was not settling.
Pippen toughened up and delivered an efficient if not spectacular triple-double, and the Bulls routed the Knicks by nearly 30 points in the decisive game.
A tight deadline, big pitch, client issue – whatever it is. Can your teammates count on you when it gets tough?