James Worthy, Who Won Michael Jordan His Only NCAA Championship, Puts Timeline On When He Was Better Than the “Black Jesus”

The Tar Heels’ victory in the 1982 NCAA championship was historic. What made it even more remarkable was the partnership of freshman Michael Jordan with James Worthy. In a recent interview, the 3x NBA champion shared his experiences of playing alongside Jordan for a season. While he praised MJ’s exceptional game for a freshman, he spoke about his claim of temporarily being better than Black Jesus.

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How often do you hear players claiming that they are better than Michael Jordan? 

Was James Worthy better than Michael Jordan?


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In a recent episode of the ‘All The Smoke’ podcast, the Los Angeles Lakers legend James Worthy sat down for an engaging interview. Throughout their conversation, Worthy offered valuable insights into the sportsmanship and playing style of his former teammate, Michael Jordan, during their shared time at the University of North Carolina.

Their Tar Heels connection was not just limited to playing on the same team. Worthy also played a crucial role in helping Jordan secure his recruitment to the squad. The conversation turned interesting when Worthy was asked about their 1982 championship.

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James Worthy said, “If you have watched the Michael Jordan documentary, I had a statement; when Michael came to North Carolina, I was better than Michael for about three weeks.” 

He emphasized MJ’s ruthless competitive nature that helped him step up his game. As Worthy recalled, the Chicago Bulls legend would continuously practice to get better than the rest.

Speaking of the 1982 championship, he said, “Even though I was the MVP in the tournament, Michael  kept us in the game.”

Worthy was one of the many people who could see Jordan’s real potential right from the moment he stepped into the scene. Both of their contributions were instrumental in their win against Georgetown.

Michael Jordan’s 1982 NCAA Championship


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The championship game is remembered as one of the most iconic in college basketball history.

While James Worthy was essential for the game, Jordan would begin a trend of game-winning mid-rangers that would extend until his last ring in 1998. Mike not only secured a team-high nine rebounds but also delivered the crucial 18-foot corner jump shot with just 15 seconds remaining, clinching the championship for Coach Smith’s team.

Throughout the tournament, MJ’s scoring, defensive prowess, and ability to rise to the occasion were instrumental in the Tar Heels’ success. In fact, members of the UNC coaching staff had become keenly aware of his greatness.


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Jordan’s performance in the 1982 NCAA championship was a foreshadowing of the legendary career he would go on to have in the NBA. What are your thoughts on this? Do tell us in the comments below.

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