ESPN analyst Jay Bilas bore witness to the rise of Michael Jordan, playing against him five times in the North Carolina-Duke rivalry during the 1982-83 and 1983-84 seasons. Bilas reflected on what he experienced in playing against Jordan as a competitor during that period.
“Whatever the game plan was, we couldn’t properly execute it against Jordan our freshman year. We tried to limit his catches and pressure the ball and show help, but we were simply too young and inexperienced to limit him or limit Carolina,” he said.
“He was different from the rest, and there were great competitors in the ACC in the 1980s. I have heard Coach K say on many occasions that the best era in the ACC and in college basketball was the 1980s. Think about the players in the ACC then … Jordan, Ralph Sampson, Len Bias, Mark Price, John Salley, Johnny Dawkins, Mark Alarie, Horace Grant, Lorenzo Charles, Nate McMillan, Kenny Green, Muggsy Bogues … it was ridiculous. Yet, Jordan stood out above everyone as a competitor,” Bilas explained.