Men's Basketball

‘I Just Sat on the Wing and Watched’: The Time Porter Moser Played Basketball with Michael Jordan

Courtesy of Porter MoserLoyola men's basketball head coach Porter Moser (second row, second from right) worked camps with Bulls legend Michael Jordan in the late 1980s.

When Loyola men’s basketball head coach Porter Moser was playing basketball at Creighton University in the late 1980s, he got to work at a Nike youth basketball camp run by Bulls guard and NBA legend Michael Jordan.

But there was a catch: To work at a camp with “His Airness,” who wouldn’t win his first championship until 1991, the counselors had to play with him in front of the campers — and Moser said luckily, he was always on Jordan’s team. He also got to see just how competitive Jordan was, which was a topic of discussion during ESPN’s highly anticipated documentary “The Last Dance” about Jordan and the 1990s Bulls dynasty.

“It was even more spectacular live when you were on the court to see [his] actual armpit above the rim, how fast he would go,” Moser told The Phoenix. “For a guard to do the things that he could do, he was big. He was every bit of [6-foot-6].”

Because Moser was on Jordan’s team at the camp, which was held in west suburban Elmhurst, he said he had to guard “the most rock-solid human being I’ve ever had to guard.” That was NFL legend Lawrence Taylor, a college friend of Jordan’s who was playing for the New York Giants and wanted to play pickup ball at the camp. Taylor, who stood 6-foot-3 and weighed 238 pounds, went on to become one of the greatest NFL players of all time, reaching 10 Pro Bowls and winning two Super Bowls.

Moser, who was 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds at the time, called Taylor “the biggest badass on the planet at the time,” but said he definitely would’ve taken guarding the three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year over the 1985 NBA Rookie of the Year.

“I remember guarding him and … [I was] like, ‘I ain’t getting too aggressive with this dude,’” Moser said. “I liked playing with Michael because I just sat on the wing and watched.”

After the campers went to bed, Moser said Jordan wanted to play more, so he’d play against the counselors for another hour and a half or so. But Jordan didn’t stop there. After they played their last games of the night, he played cards with the counselors because “everything was a competition.”

“I liked playing with Michael because I just sat on the wing and watched.”

Porter Moser, Loyola men’s basketball head coach

When Moser watched “The Last Dance,” he saw interviews about Jordan’s competitive nature, and he remembered just how competitive Jordan was — even during scrimmages.

“They said, ‘Michael didn’t turn it on and off. He played every game like there was someone in the crowd that’s never seen him play before,’” Moser said. “I think that is so cool because that means basically, they were saying, ‘Every time he plays, he wants to prove to someone how good he is.’ And that’s the way he played his pickup games. … He was trying to rip your throat out.”

As the Bulls dominated the NBA in the ‘90s and won six championships in eight years, Jordan became Moser’s favorite athlete. He said he and his kids discuss whether or not Jordan’s the greatest player of all time, and he’s always felt Jordan was in a different category.

He also said he thinks the ‘90s Bulls could’ve won eight straight titles if Jordan didn’t take 18 months off to play baseball. That’s why he considers that decade the most dominant in modern sports.

“There’s never been dominance like that,” Moser said. “I mean, Michael basically won six seasons in a row that he played. Think about it. … You’ve got to go back to UCLA [in the 1960s], but that’s in that era. In the modern era? That’s just insane.”

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