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Ron Jones on facing Jordan

Posted on: May 20, 2020 at 13:25:55 CT
FIJItiger MU
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17.39 yrs
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In his sixth collegiate start Nov. 27, 1982, Jones and the No. 15-ranked Tigers beat No. 3 North Carolina 64-60 in St. Louis with the 6-foot-4 then-junior draped over M.J. — who finished with 13 points — most of the game.

But as well as Jones defended, he made his fatal error in the media room after the game. According to his account, Jones told reporters that he tried to hold Jordan scoreless.

His Airness got wind of the comments in time for UNC’s rematch with Missouri that season in the championship of the Rainbow Classic on Dec. 30, 1982, in Hawaii, and Jordan let Jones have it. Fourty minutes, 19 Jordan points and an endless amount of verbal jabbing later, North Carolina got revenge in the second meeting 73-58.

“He reminded me of that out there,” Jones said of his comments toward Jordan. “It was a lot of trash talk. ‘You can’t guard me,’ things like that. ‘I’m getting ready to beat you baseline. Get ready to go backdoor,’ it was just constant talking. And the tongue wagging ... I had never seen that before. And that was a distraction.”

“We had some big games at the Checkerdome, and that was kind of like a home game for us,” Jones said. “Norm and the coaching staff, they did their job (to prepare). Because even in practice, I remember Norm blasting the music loud with us playing scrimmage games ... getting us prepared for a hostile crowd.

“You don’t realize until you get to the game and they throw the ball up, but they were long at every position,” Jones said of North Carolina. “Michael Jordan was a legitimate 6-foot-6, quick first step and long arms and everything. Another thing that kind of surprised me was their wingspan ... even though you get your shot blocked, you still want to go at them and try and draw a foul. We were not going to back down from them or anybody else we played.”

“Norm wouldn’t let you celebrate that much, but it was a good moment in the locker room,” Jones said. “Everybody was high-fiving ... there was time to celebrate, but after that, it was time to go back and get ready for the next game and get down to business. It wasn’t very cocky or anything, we were a veteran team and we knew when to celebrate and how long to celebrate. And we knew it was time to put the hard hat back on and go to work.”

Jones never played in the NBA, meanwhile, but he was good friends with several players that did go pro, including former All-American Wayman Tisdale. At a preseason game in Kansas City where Tisdale’s Pacers were playing Jordan’s Bulls, Jones was on the floor chatting with Tisdale before tipoff when Chicago came out for its pregame warmups.

Jordan, now a bonafide megastar at this point, saw Jones and called him by name. Jones was awestruck; His Airness remembered him?

“Michael came running out of the tunnel and saw me and said ‘Jonesy!’” Jones said. “(He was) asking me how was I doing, and we had a pretty good conversation. I was hyped after that, I was walking around with a big head ... realizing that, hey, this guy just realized who I was and remembered me.”

As he, too, sits at home working remotely while watching “The Last Dance” weekly, Jones is reminded of all the features that defined Jordan’s legacy and how he experienced them himself.

And when Jones thinks back of that night in November 1982, especially when watching the series, the “chills” he says crash upon him.

“You could tell that Michael was going to be special,” Jones said. “His size and his hands and his arms was long, and he could jump forever. But you didn’t know that he was going to be the best player in the world. You knew he was a hard worker, because he worked hard out on the court. He didn’t take off from any play. None of us knew that he was going to be the best player in the world, but we knew that he was going to be a special player.”
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Ron Jones on facing Jordan - FIJItiger MU - 5/20 13:25:55
     The amazing thing about that game was that both - Genco98 MU - 5/20 13:47:25

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