It doesn't take much to tick off Michael Jordan.
As we saw repeatedly in "The Last Dance," His Airness could hold a grudge against anyone — he'd even create fictitious slights by opposing players — and use that bitterness to fuel his competitive drive.
It turns out that drive goes back to well before his days as a professional. As a senior in high school, Jordan had caught the attention of big schools all over the country, with the most interest coming from Atlantic Coast Conference programs.
Everyone knows that Jordan chose to play for Hall of Fame coach Dean Smith at North Carolina, where he helped lead the Tar Heels to the 1982 national championship as a freshman by knocking down the go-ahead shot from the left wing with 18 seconds remaining in regulation. But what if he had chosen differently?
As it turns out, Jordan had interest in another ACC school: Maryland.
The Terrapins, also coached by a Hall of Famer in Lefty Driesell, were national contenders at the time as well. They'd finished first in the 1979-80 ACC regular season and were runner-up to UNC in the 1981 ACC Tournament, losing a one-point thriller in the final.
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Maryland was also interested in recruiting Jordan, though not as much as the young shooting guard might have liked. According to Buzz Peterson, Jordan's roommate at North Carolina, Driesell dangled his last scholarship spot in front of three recruits: Jordan, Peterson and Jeff Adkins.
"(Driesell) says, ‘I've got one scholarship left, and the first one who takes it gets it,'" Peterson told Washington City Paper.
That apparently didn't sit right with Jordan (shocker, right?). To pile on, Peterson and Adkins were named Parade Magazine All-Americans in 1981 while Jordan was left off. Adkins ended up taking that scholarship offer from Driesell, and Jordan and Peterson went to UNC.
As if that wasn't enough motivation for Jordan, he got a little more incentive to hate the Terps at the 1981 McDonald's All-American Game. Jordan put together a 30-point performance on 13-of-19 shooting from the field and 4-of-4 shooting from the free throw line to go with six steals and four assists. He also made the game-winning free throws with 11 seconds remaining to help the East All-Stars beat the West 96-95.
But the co-MVP honors went to Maryland commit Adrian Branch (24 points for the East) and Aubrey Sherrod (19 points for the West), who went on to play for Wichita State.
With all that in mind, it's pretty easy to figure out which team was on Jordan's mind when he looked at UNC's schedule and saw the Terrapins twice every year.
"He was interested in Maryland," Peterson said. "Maryland was the one that he would talk about."
Jordan used that anger as fuel, posting a 5-1 record against the Terrapins in his three years of college.
Michael Jordan: so I took it personal...
— ♛ℳelku Black (@OGMelo_) May 18, 2020