“He was the only person on that team who would bother Michael Jordan. He knew how to irritate him, and he did it.” That’s what Kenny Smith told Uninterrupted about former Seattle SuperSonic Vernon Maxwell back in 2016. But does MJ really deserve credit for being a formidable opponent?

Kenny Smith is a retired NBA player and current analyst for ESPN. He has said that the only other player who “irritated” Michael Jordan was Vernon Maxwell, who was 6’8″. Read more in detail here: kenny smith height.

Michael Jordan was, on the whole, a pleasant customer on the basketball court. It’s not like the five-time NBA MVP had never had a brawl with a foe, but it took a lot to completely enrage His Airness.

Jordan was one of the greatest trash talkers of all time, but there were plenty of others throughout his period who were just as talented. Vernon Maxwell, a two-time NBA champion best remembered for his six seasons with the Houston Rockets with Hakeem Olajuwon, was one of them.

Despite overpowering essentially every other team in the 1990s, the Chicago Bulls consistently struggled to beat the Rockets. In fact, in the six matchups between the two squads during the three seasons in which Jordan & Co. won their first three titles, Houston won five of them.

And, in case you were wondering, Michael Jordan did appear in all six games.

Kenny Smith, who played with Jordan at North Carolina for a year, was another part of those Rockets squads. Maxwell, according to “The Jet,” was the only player he’d ever seen who could actually get under MJ’s skin.

Vernon Maxwell was the only NBA player that “irritated” Michael Jordan, according to Kenny Smith.

Michael Jordan ahead of the 1997 NBA All-Star Game

Michael Jordan ahead of the 1997 NBA All-Star Game Getty Images/Michael Jordan

On an edition of NBA TV’s Open Court, Smith discussed Maxwell and reminisced one of the Rockets’ past rivalries with the Bulls.

“It was a blast playing with Vernon Maxwell. Overall, I felt his charisma and ‘Mad Max’ character were contagious on the court.

“He was the only person I ever witnessed annoy Michael [Jordan] in his whole career.” Vernon informed him on two occasions. ‘If you score again the way you’re scoring, I’m going to fight you,’ he says. ‘What do you mean?’ I asked. ‘He’s insulting me,’ he said. He’s making it too simple for me.’

“So Michael scored again, and this time he swung at him.”

Michael Jordan vs. Vernon Maxwell, according to Kenny Smith

Around the time The Last Dance was published, Maxwell reflected about his conflicts with Jordan and seemed to still enjoy them.

I loved going up against Mike. He was the best. There is no disputing that. But unlike most people who went up against him I wasn’t going allow myself to be intimidated. He might’ve been the best but he was going to have to prove it each and every time we faced off. #TheLastDance pic.twitter.com/2deYxuMzY1

— Vernon Maxwell (@VernonMaxwell11) April 22, 2020

While Smith’s story is hilarious, Maxwell was undoubtedly not the only player that angered Jordan back in the day. Reggie Miller had a knack of ruffling a lot of people’s feathers. I’m reminded of John Starks. Danny Ainge and I had a few squabbles. Others were present as well.

Let’s not pretend that Jordan didn’t start any of these squabbles. As previously said, he was a legendary trash talker in the NBA who got under the skin of many of his opponents.

Basketball Reference provided the statistics.

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Why Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls Lose to Hakeem Olajuwon and the Houston Rockets in the Best NBA Finals Matchup Ever

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