Q&A: Michael Jordan says he'd beat LeBron in 1-on-1 in his prime, and that all-time Bulls team would 'kill' all-time Lakers team
On Saturday at his Michael Jordan Flight School camp in Santa Barbara, California, the eponymous NBA legend took a number of questions -- and some of them were tough, ranging from Phil Jackson or Dean Smith, all-time Chicago Bulls vs. all-time Los Angeles Lakers, one-on-one with LeBron James and much more.
As he tends to do with basketball-related queries, MJ answered them with candor. Here's a selection of the questions and answers, as seen in the video above from Bay Area HQ:
(Questions as said by Jordan himself.)
If I had to play one game, who would I want to coach: Phil Jackson or Dean Smith?
"Dean Smith. [Some audible gasps/murmurs.] Fortunately Dean Smith helped me become the basketball player I am today. Phil was lucky because I was taught the game by Dean Smith."
How did I feel when the Detroit Pistons walked off after we beat them in 1991 [in a 4-0 sweep in the Eastern Conference finals]?
"I felt fine. I felt accomplished. We beat them and they felt ashamed about us beating them. I felt like it was bad sportsmanship. I would not advise you guys to do that. You've got to be able to lose in grace and win in grace -- so don't walk off the court. Even though you hate losing, that's just bad sportsmanship if you do that."
Biggest trash-talker I ever played against?
"Probably Larry Bird. He talks a lot of trash. Good trash, though, not dirty trash. Good trash."
What did I think about when Shaq said that the all-time five of the greatest Lakers could beat the Bulls' five greatest players?
"I just felt like he was just talking. It's a debate. The thing is that we would never know. I think we would have killed them. He thinks they would have killed us. You guys decide. It's just a debate."
"Favorite player to play pick-up games with?"
"My best pick-up game I've ever played was the games and the practices with the  Dream Team. ... My team was myself, Scottie Pippen, Patrick Ewing, Larry Bird and Chris Mullin. We played against Magic Johnson, Clyde Drexler, Charles Barkley, David Robinson -- that's five, right? -- and we killed 'em.
Note: That's not five; the other player team's fifth had to be either Karl Malone, John Stockton or Christian Laettner. There's also a chance Jordan is misremembering a bit, and he's talking about this scrimmage covered in-depth by Sports Illustrated, which featured a Jordan-Malone-Ewing-Pippen-Bird five against Magic, Barkley, Robinson, Mullin and Laettner (although a 40-36 final score in favor of Jordan's team hardly constitutes a "killing.")
If I had the chance to go one-on-one with Steph Curry or LeBron, which one would I choose to go one-on-one with?
"Right now, or when I was in my prime? Right now? Buddy, I couldn't beat -- well, I'd go against [Stephen] Curry because I'm a little bit bigger than him. So I could kind of back him in. But LeBron is a little bit too big."
[Note: Take that, 34 percent of America.]
If I had a chance to add another member to team Jordan, who would I hire?
"I'm a big fan of [Mike] Trout, the baseball player. I absolutely love him. I wish I could hire him. But he's Nike, so I can't steal Nike's guys."
This is the ESPN question. I know it's going to be all over ESPN. [Note: He was right.] If I was in my prime, could I beat LeBron in a one-on-one game?
[Long pause in which the campers mutter/shout their opinions.]
What did I see in Kwame Brown when I drafted him [No. 1 overall for the Washington Wizards in 2001]?
"I, along with everybody that was in that draft room, wanted Kwame Brown because of his athleticism, his size, his speed. He was still a young talent, 18-year-old, 19-year-old kid."
If you went back and you couldn't play basketball or baseball, what sport would you play?
"Great question. I went to college, I got my degree in cultural geography, and everybody wanted to know what is cultural geography? Well it's an introduction to meteorology. I always wanted to be the weather man. Don't laugh. But that's what I really wanted to do. So if I wasn't playing basketball or baseball, I was going to tell you what the weather was going to be like tomorrow."
[Note: Don't think meteorology is a sport? Tell that to Jim Cantore!]
What kind of advice would I give Kobe Bryant?
[Uncomfortable laughter in the crowd.]
"Actually, Kobe and I are good friends. I like Kobe, we talk a lot, I hope he comes back healthy. I think he's one of the great players of the game, I think he's done a lot for the game, and he has a true love for the game of basketball. I absolutely have high regard for Kobe Bryant."Even though he stole all my moves, but that's OK. I still love him like a brother."