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Bubba Wallace Shares Michael Jordan's Advice for Dishing Out Payback on the Track
The NBA’s legendary GOAT knows a thing or two about gamesmanship.
If you’ve never seen a great white shark sleeping, the visual is utterly terrifying. Lazily gliding along, its mouth slowly droops open, revealing row after row of razor-shark teeth. If it weren’t for the vapidness of its pitch-black eyes, you’d mistake it for a ghastly smirk of contentment like that of a Bond villain, tickled after finally getting to drop someone in a pit of spikes. The sight of this catatonic killer feels so eerie in our marrow because, no matter who you are or where you come from, we all know that, once awakened, this sleeping giant turns into two tons of a dauntless predator with just one ultimate mission: feed.
That’s essentially what Michael Jordan was on the hardwoods, except this man didn’t sleep. He might have appeared nonchalant in dropping 25, but at any moment, like a great white shark, one drop of blood could send him into a frenzy.
Still, the best way to unleash MJ’s true ferocity was not to delicately maneuver like some frightened guppy. If you really wanted Michael Jeffrey Jordan to flip the switch, all it took was a little flapping of the gums to turn a mortal man into a revenge-fueled annihilator.
During a game in March 1990 when the Chicago Bulls faced the Cleveland Cavaliers, John “Hot Rod” Williams fouled MJ hard, and the crowd started cheering that Jordan was in pain. That’s when, as Jordan says, “I went crazy.” His Airness torched the Cavs with 69 points, a career best, while shooting an unreal 62% from the field. In 1992, the media was hyping up Clyde Drexler prior to the finals where his Blazers were taking on the Bulls. Well, as you can imagine, MJ took a little bit of umbrage to the comparison and took The Glide to school, averaging 36 points on 53% from the field to Drexler’s 25 points and 41%. Dikembe Mutombo ran his mouth in the 1997 NBA All-Star game about Jordan not being able to dunk on him and, just three short months later, MJ yammed so hard on the ultimate shot-blocker that the reverberations from the crowd’s thunderous cheers can still be felt today. Poking the bear was tantamount to inviting total destruction.
Jordan was just downright diabolical. He wanted to rip out your soul and play with it like a yo-yo as you withered away into some gelatinous mess on the court, crying ‘Mama’ only to be ignored. Whether you were a player or coach, the GOAT’s sole purpose with how he dished out revenge was to crush you and leave you with such an overwhelming sense of embarrassment that it would haunt your dreams night after night. For MJ, revenge wasn’t meant to be served cold. He was going to pour molten lava down your throat and watch happily as it devoured your entire being from the inside.
As cruel to his competitors as he could be, Jordan always knew that the greatest feeling was dominating anyone who did him wrong on the court, so, now that His Airness is a co-owner of 23XI Racing with Denny Hamlin, he’s serving up a little advice to his driver Bubba Wallace on how to dish it out in true GOAT style. Speaking to reporters before the Enjoy Illinois 300, Wallace revealed exactly what Jordan said.
“Our policy – and MJ [Michael Jordan] will text you that right away – is you go beat them on the racetrack,” Wallace revealed on the NASCAR pre-race show, according to Sportskeeda. “That’s your retaliation.”
After struggling to get into gear last year and recently being on the receiving end of derogatory comments, Wallace has hunkered down and focused solely on the task at hand. Currently ranked 15th, Wallace’s putting together a respectable Cup Series season, earning four top-five finishes in just 15 races. He’s been a consistent force to be reckoned with, and had it not been for a couple small things here and there, he could be going into this weekend’s hunt at Sonoma Raceway with multiple wins.
Noticeably absent are any major dust-ups like the altercation Wallace had last year where he hooked Kyle Larson in Las Vegas. Considering Wallace’s boss Hamlin was recently on the receiving end of a very similar hooking incident from Chase Elliott – for which Elliott received the same one-race suspension Wallace did last year – the 29-year-old Wallace weighed in on NASCAR's vigilance, both in terms of driver behavior and adherence to equipment regulations. NASCAR most recently hammered Chase Briscoe's No. 14 team at Stewart-Haas Racing with an L3 penalty – the highest in the circuit – for using counterfeit parts.
“It is what it is,” Wallace added. “NASCAR’s laying their foot down with this new car. Look at the No. 14 [Briscoe] penalty. We’ve paid a lot of money in fines. We, as the Cup Series, have paid a lot of fines this year, and they’re [the league] not messing around.”
Cup Series journalist Bob Pockrass tweeted that he spoke with chief NASCAR brass Steve Phelps about comparing the Wallace-Larson incident with the Elliott-Hamlin situation, and Phelps elaborated on making the decision to suspend Elliott.
“It would be difficult to have a conversation with Denny or Bubba or someone else and say, ‘Hey, it was not OK for Bubba to do it, and it's OK for Chase to do it,’” Phelps said, according to Pockrass’ tweet. “We hate it, but it's a call we needed to make.”
While there’s no way for Wallace to post-up Kyle Busch down low or, as incredible as it would be to see, hammer Ross Chastain, tongue out, with a two-handed, rock-the-baby dunk, at the end of the day, Jordan’s right. While everyone embraces trash talk – MJ’s the GOAT there too – even if you’re not a dagger-toothed apex predator at heart, the best way to get payback is to beat your enemy on the battlefield, and that is something the 23XI wheelman definitely has the power to do.