Michael Jordan’s note to Bobby Knight before the 1984 Olympic gold-medal game

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Michael Jordan already won over Bobby Knight, who was starting to confide that Jordan was the best player he’d ever seen. But minutes before the gold-medal game at the 1984 Olympics, where Knight was the head coach and Jordan the star of stars, the player did something else to impress the General.

As recounted in Knight’s autobiography and “Playing for Keeps,” David Halberstam‘s book on Jordan: Knight was preparing the pre-game points to make to the team. He found a note smack in the middle of the locker-room blackboard. It was a yellow piece of paper from a legal pad.

“Coach: Don’t worry. We’ve put up with too much s— to lose now.”

There was no attribution.

“I still have the paper,” Knight wrote in his book, first published in 2002. “And I don’t have any doubt about its author. By then, I knew what Michael Jordan’s handwriting looked like. I looked at that note, and everybody was watching. Michael had his head down, but he couldn’t resist looking to see what I was going to do. All I said was, ‘Okay, let’s go play.'”

The U.S. led by 23 points over Spain at halftime, eventually prevailing 96-65. Jordan scored 20 points.

Knight, left speechless by Jordan’s first-half excellence, struggled to think of what to tell the team to motivate them at the half. The first player he saw upon entering the locker room was Jordan. Knight, in retelling this story to David Letterman in 1993, said that Jordan had 19 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists in 11 first-half minutes (the box score refutes this).

Knight walked over to Jordan’s locker.

“Mike, when the hell are you going to set a screen?” Knight yelled. “All you’re doing is rebounding, passing and scoring. Dammit, screen somebody out here!”

Jordan smiled.

“Coach, didn’t I just read last week where you said I may be the quickest player you’ve ever been around?” he asked.

“What the hell has that got to do with you screening?” Knight replied.

“Coach,” Jordan closed, “I think I set ’em quicker than you can see ’em.”

The men’s basketball final was not the most memorable event that day in Los Angeles. Around the time of tipoff, the right foot of American favorite Mary Decker made contact with the heel of 18-year-old British barefoot runner Zola Budd during the 3000m final. Decker went down, injured and in tears, and did not finish.

Earlier in the Olympics, Knight moved Jordan to tears, ordering him to apologize to his teammates for a six-turnover performance in a win over West Germany.

“You should be embarrassed by the way you played,” he yelled at Jordan, according to “Michael Jordan: The Life,” by Roland LazenbySam Perkins, a teammate at North Carolina and at the Olympics, confirmed the story in 2016.

“He told Michael that’s the worst he ever played,” Perkins said in a radio interview. “Now, Michael’s going to deny this, but he cried.”

That memory must have stuck with Jordan, a man so competitive he was known to invent slights for motivation.

“I don’t know if I would have done [the 1984 Olympics] if I knew what Knight was going to be like,” he said in March 1991, according to Sam Smith‘s book, “The Jordan Rules.”

MORE: LeBron James’ status for Tokyo Olympics unclear

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12-year-old skateboarders earn medals at world championships

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At the world skateboarding championships, 12-year-olds Chloe Covell from Australia and Onodera Ginwoo from Japan earned silver and bronze medals, respectively, in Sunday’s street finals.

In the women’s event, Covell took silver behind Brazilian 15-year-old Rayssa Leal, who was a silver medalist herself at the Tokyo Games.

Frenchman Aurélien Giraud, a 25-year-old who was sixth in skateboarding’s Olympic debut in Tokyo, won the men’s final in the United Arab Emirates. Ginwoo was third behind Portugal’s Gustavo Ribeiro.

The top Americans were Olympic men’s bronze medalist Jagger Eaton in sixth and 15-year-old Paige Heyn in seventh in the women’s event.

Nyjah Huston, a six-time world champion who placed seventh in Tokyo, missed worlds after August surgery for an ACL tear.

Up to three men and three women per nation can qualify per event (street and park) for the 2024 Paris Games. World rankings come June 2024 determine which Americans qualify.

In Tokyo, four of the 12 skateboarding medalists were ages 12 or 13.

Japan’s Kokona Hiraki, then 12, won silver in women’s park to become the youngest Olympic medalist since 1936, according to Olympedia.org. Japan’s Momiji Nishiya, then 13, won women’s street and became the youngest gold medalist in an individual event since 1936.

Worlds conclude this week with the men’s and women’s park events. The finals are Saturday.

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Francesco Friedrich, most decorated bobsledder in history, rebounds for 12th world title

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A week after his first major championships defeat in seven years, German Francesco Friedrich returned to his winning ways to close the world bobsled championships on Sunday.

Friedrich’s four-man sled won the world title by 69 hundredths of a second over British and Latvian sleds that tied for silver, combining times from four runs over the last two days in St. Moritz, Switzerland. It marked Great Britain’s first world championships men’s bobsled medal since 1966.

Geoff Gadbois drove the lone U.S. sled in the field, finishing 18th.

Friedrich, the most decorated bobsledder in history, extended his records with a fifth consecutive world four-man title and 12th world championship between two- and four-man events.

Germany swept all four titles at bobsled worlds with four different drivers taking gold.

Friedrich had won 12 consecutive Olympic or world titles before taking two-man silver at worlds last week in St. Moritz, Switzerland. He was dethroned in that event by countryman Johannes Lochner.

Friedrich has been hampered recently by a muscle injury from sprint training in late December. Going into worlds, Lochner had won four consecutive World Cup two-man races, while Hall won the last two World Cups in four-man.

Friedrich, 32, said before this season that he plans to make the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games his final competition. Friedrich and push athlete Thorsten Margis can break the record of four career Olympic bobsled gold medals that they currently share with retired Germans Andre Lange and Kevin Kuske.

The World Cup season concludes with stops in Igls, Austria, and Sigulda, Latvia, the next two weekends.

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