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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South Korea’s first gold medalist of 2018 PyeongChang Olympics to compete for China

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Lim Hyo-Jun, a short track speed skater who won South Korea’s first gold medal of the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, has been cleared to skate for China and was reportedly named to the national team Monday.

Lim, who won the 1500m on the first day of medal competition at the PyeongChang Games, began the process of switching to China after a June 2019 incident where he pulled down a teammate’s trousers, leaving him standing, exposed, in front of female teammates.

Lim, the 2019 World overall champion, was banned from the team for a year and later found guilty of sexual harassment before the verdict was overturned on appeal.

It was reported in March 2021 that Lim was in the process of trying to gain Chinese nationality to compete at the Beijing Winter Olympics, but Lim was not cleared to switch by the International Skating Union until this July. His Chinese name is Lin Xiaojun.

Another star South Korean skater, triple 2006 Olympic gold medalist Ahn Hyun-Soo, switched to Russia after not making the 2010 Olympic team. He then won three golds for the host nation as Viktor Ahn at the 2014 Sochi Games.

China’s national team for the upcoming season reportedly does not include veterans Wu Dajing, the nation’s lone gold medalist across all sports at the 2018 Olympics, and Fan Kexin, a three-time Olympic medalist.

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Brigid Kosgei, world record holder, to miss London Marathon

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World record holder Brigid Kosgei withdrew before Sunday’s London Marathon due to a right hamstring injury that has bothered her for the last month.

“My training has been up and down and not the way I would like to prepare to be in top condition,” was posted on Kosgei’s social media. “We’ve decided it’s best I withdraw from this year’s race and get further treatment on my injuries in order to enter 2023 stronger than ever.”

Kosgei, a 28-year-old Kenyan mother of twins, shattered the world record by 81 seconds at the 2019 Chicago Marathon. She clocked 2:14:04 to smash Brit Paula Radcliffe‘s record from 2003.

Since, Kosgei won the 2020 London Marathon, took silver at the Tokyo Olympics, placed fourth at the 2021 London Marathon and won this past March’s Tokyo Marathon in what was then the third-fastest time in history (2:16:02).

Ethiopian Tigist Assefa moved into the top three by winning the Berlin Marathon last Sunday in 2:15:37.

The London Marathon women’s field includes Kenyan Joyciline Jepkosgei, a winner in New York City (2019) and London (2021), and Yalemzerf Yehualaw, who was the Ethiopian record holder until Assefa won in Berlin.

The men’s field is headlined by Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele, the second-fastest male marathoner in history, and Brit Mo Farah, a four-time Olympic champion on the track.

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