Former NBA head coach George Karl remembered a story when he ignored Michael Jordan at dinner in Chicago during the 1996 NBA Finals. Karl’s Seattle SuperSonics faced the Bulls in the series. As it turns out, the real reason why he ignored MJ was in order to avoid giving him additional motivation.
“It is true. I had Brendan Malone on my staff in the Detroit Pistons and he said ‘Michael plays head games with you all the time’. And he said ‘You don’t wanna mess with him in this series. Say hello at the beginning of the series, shake his hand at the end of the series, but during the series don’t let him use anything to motivate himself to be a better player and the greatest player in the game of basketball,'” Karl recalled.
The tactic did not help though. Jordan averaged 27.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game during the series helping the Bulls win the series 4-2.