In ice hockey, disrespect preceded the greatest single-game performance ever. On Feb. 6, 1976, owner Harold Ballard of the Toronto Maple Leafs Derated his allstar center, Darryl Sittler, in the media: If only we had a center it could be a time bomb. That bomb went off the next night as Sittler exploded for 10 points.
Michael Jordan has this dissing revenge down to a science.
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He wields a grudge like a stiletto. Often he doesn't wait for the game to begin to get mad at a foe. core exercises for elite athletes Air Freud has the Bulls' public relations staff scour newspapers for quotes in which opponents question his superiority, then he works himself into a lather for the next time they meet.
Jordan learned some of his tricks from Larry Bird of the Boston Celtics. core endurance exercises When the two locked horns, Bird would often taunt Jordan, who was six years younger, bragging to Jordan how he was going to beat him with his moves or his deadly outside shot. And it would come to pass as Bird would psyche himself into scoring against MJ, one of the league's best defenders. core workouts football players Bird knew the trash talking would make Jordan play more intensely on defense the next time down the court and would force Bird to raise the level of his offensive play even more. Of course, it became a two-way street with Jordan telling Bird under his breath that he was going to score at the other end of the court and thus, by defending their egos, two titans were able to raise the bar in a brilliant game of psychological and emotional stress, er, chess.
Of course, other NBA players have used Bird and Jordan as their own motivational tools, like John Starks of the New York Knicks. Upon hearing of Jordan's short retirement in 1993, Starks said: I'm going to miss him. He brought out the best in me. Or, perhaps more correctly, he brought out the warrior in him.
Jordan admits to fabricating stories to trick himself into an angry state against opponents, but that doesn't surprise sport psychologist Bruce Ogilvie, who said that a former NFL defensive end, whom he wouldn't name, would get himself motivated by pretending an opponent had raped his wife. (As discussed earlier in this blog, the mind body arousal system sometimes has a hard time distinguishing between fact and fantasy if the athlete can get himself psyched. )