Francona shares incredible Michael Jordan tale

This dunk took place in a Birmingham pickup game in 1994

April 20th, 2020

There are probably hundreds of legendary Michael Jordan stories we've never heard. But now there's one fewer of those unknown tales.

Indians manager Terry Francona, who was Jordan's manager at Double-A Birmingham during Jordan's 1994 stint in professional baseball, told a Jordan story in a video tweeted by the Indians on Sunday. It was about a pickup basketball game outside Francona's apartment in Birmingham, Ala., following a four-hour bus ride home.

Francona said that a few coaches on his staff were arguing about who was a better basketball player before deciding they would settle the matter on Francona's court. Word got out fast because, of course, Jordan would be playing in the game. And then, one of the neighborhood participants decided to challenge Jordan.

"I'm really nervous about this," Francona said. "I'm 33 years old, a Double-A manager, and I'd like to keep going and maybe become the Triple-A manager at some point and not get fired. ... There was a guy who was kind of big and strong and he was kind of getting physical with Michael. I remember being a little uncomfortable because this was not going in a good direction.

"Finally, Michael had enough. He got to about the top of the key and ... he pointed to the guy and said, 'I'm going right there.' And I remember thinking, 'Uh-oh, this is not gonna be good.' So I went over to set a pick ... and he looked at me and said, 'Get outta here.' ... He took one dribble, left the ground ... and the next thing you know, the rim is bent, he slammed the ball through the chain net. He was standing over the guy who he knocked down. And he said, 'Don't ever talk to me in my house.'"

Francona, as an aside, mentioned that Jordan actually dislocated his pinky finger with a hard pass during the game.

"I kind of quietly put it back where it was supposed to be," Francona said.

Well, all's well that ends well. Jordan returned to basketball in 1995 and continued his legendary hoops career, and Francona went on to manage in the big leagues, winning World Series championships with the Red Sox in 2004 and '07 and becoming the Indians' manager in 2013.