Michael Jordan and Reggie Miller are known as two of the best trash-talkers from their era, but MJ even out-shined Miller in that department.
Miller was interviewed for “The Last Dance” documentary, as the Eastern Conference Finals between his Indiana Pacers and Jordan’s Chicago Bulls in 1998 were highlighted in episode 9. During the episode, Miller recalled his first encounter with Jordan as an opponent.
“Most people feared Michael Jordan, and rightfully so. But I didn’t fear him like the rest of the league did. We had to lock horns quite a bit…I respected him so much, but he probably just thought I was some mouthy, skinny kid. And he was one of the best trash-talkers in our game,” Miller said of Jordan.
Miller recalled having a good first half of a game against Jordan during their first meeting ever and then talking some trash. After that, Jordan taught Miller a lesson…and nickname.
“You’re Michael Jordan? The guy who walks on water?” Miller recalled saying to Jordan. “I remember him walking off the court. He was like, ‘don’t ever talk trash to Black Jesus.’ That’s when I stopped referring to him as Michael Jordan, and I always referred to him either as ‘Jordan,’ ‘Black Jesus,’ or ‘that black cat.’ I never called him ‘Michael Jordan’ after that.'”
That’s a great story. Sure enough, the documentary later played a clip from a press conference Miller did in 1998 calling Jordan “that black cat.”
Of course, the respect actually was mutual, as Jordan called the Pacers the toughest team his Bulls faced, outside of the Pistons. That’s a lot coming from Jordan, considering what he said about some of his other contemporaries.