In a flash of mental genius, Michael Jordan saw the future. In a flash of danger, Kobe Bryant saw the past. In a flash of madness, Michael Jordan saw. Michael Jordan is one of the greatest entertainers in the history of sports, and here is proof: in the 1991-1992 season, he played for the Chicago Bulls and at one point was on pace to score over 9,000 points in a season. And then the unthinkable happened: Michael Jordan played 38 minutes, recorded 9 points, and scored 40 points.  And the crowd went absolutely nuts.

In a Monday night matchup between the Washington Wizards and the Miami Heat, a rather bizarre basketball occurrence took place. In a game that saw Michael Jordan score a total of 40 points, Magic Johnson averaged 25 points, and Alonzo Mourning averaged 10 points, the Wizards managed to win the game. In the fourth quarter, as the Wizards were leading by 19 points, Jordan checked in to the game with the score at 75-55. In the following sequence of events, Jordan scored a total of ten points, and with a few seconds left in the game, Jordan counted down from 40, as he knew the Wizards would eventually win the game.

Former NBA All-Star Steve Smith had a lot of back-and-forth experience with Michael Jordan. During his time with the Miami Heat and Atlanta Hawks, the former Michigan State player was often tasked with checking Jordan. Smith certainly heard and saw a lot, but one of the most vivid moments for him was when Jordan started counting backwards after making baskets.

Michael Jordan relished the opportunity to compete against Steve Smith.


Michael Jordan relished the opportunity to compete against the greatest players in the NBA. He also appeared to like playing against men who shared his competitive attitude and weren’t afraid to get down and dirty.

In this respect, Jordan and Smith got along swimmingly.

Back in 1997, the Chicago Bulls great claimed he was always looking forward to putting on his shoes and going head-to-head with Smith. He also said that the two were able to keep up a pleasant conversation on the dance floor.

Jordan told Sports Illustrated, “I love playing against Steve.” “On the court, we have the same kind of personality. We like exchanging a few words here and there, but we never cross the line.”

Jordan and Smith once swapped phone numbers. That is to say, after each made basket, he played mind games by counting down from 40.

Smith told a Jordan anecdote about how after each made basket, MJ counted backwards from 40.


Any basketball fan interested in player viewpoint and the game’s history should look for episodes of TNT’s “Open Court” on the internet. Former players offer their thoughts and observations, as well as tales from their playing days.

In any case, there was a section on one edition of “Open Court” devoted to the greatest trash talkers in NBA history. Michael Jordan was, of course, heavily featured. Steve Smith felt the same way.

Everyone on the panel was curious about Smith’s encounters with MJ in one-on-one situations. He complied by telling how His Airness exclaimed “38” after his first bucket. It took Smith a while to figure out what Jordan was getting at until he realized he was counting backwards from 40.

Smith quipped to the panel, “Now, if he gets to zero, he’s got 40.”

Jordan was a master of mental warfare and game inside a game. He’d go to any length to get a mental advantage over his opponents, even if it meant confounding them with a counting game.

Smith claimed he enjoyed going up against Jordan and was tired of hearing about it. Jordan, like so many others in that period, got the best of his defensive opponent on a regular basis.

Smith’s clubs were usually owned by Jordan.

Michael Jordan talks to a referee during the 1997 NBA Finals Michael Jordan spoke with almost everyone on the court | Allsport/Brian Bahr

When Smith faced Jordan and the Bulls in the first round of the playoffs, he was only in his rookie season with the Miami Heat. Money was fantastic.

Jordan was the most dominant player in the series. In a three-game sweep, he averaged 45.0 points, 9.7 rebounds, 6.7 assists, and 3.0 steals, including a 56-point effort in Game 3.

When Smith was a member of the Atlanta Hawks, the two met again in the 1997 Eastern Conference playoffs. Smitty did a good job on MJ, limiting him to 26.6 points and 45.4 percent field goal shooting. Despite this, the Bulls cruised to victory in the series, defeating the Hawks in five games.

Smith deserves credit for taking on perhaps the most difficult individual assignment in NBA history on a regular basis. Unfortunately for him and his teams, victories over Jordan were few and far between. At the very least, the pairing resulted in some great tales.

Basketball Reference provided the statistics.

Michael Jordan asked a star-struck Chauncey Billups, “What the Hell You Looking at Young Fella?” the first time they met.

The post Michael Jordan Savagely Taunted a Top Defensive Foe by Counting Down From 40 After Every Basket: ‘If He Gets to 0, He Got 40′ first appeared on Sportscasting – Pure Sports.

You May Also Like

‘He Has Been Talking Trash From That Day’

After the US Open, Serena Williams has been asked about her on-court…

‘Personally, I Don’t Like JT’

The New York Times published a piece on September 4th, 2018 that…

Jordan Spieth’s Hole-in-1 Ended up in the Water and Earned Tony Romo $2

Jordan Spieth’s Hole-in-1 Ended up in the Water and Earned Tony Romo…

Former Pro Bowl RB Chris Johnson Opens up on Drive-by Shooting That Almost Ended His Career

In a recent interview with ESPN, former pro-bowl running back Chris Johnson…