If you’ve ever had a few drinks with fund managers, and followed them with a few more, you know the conversation inevitably turns to performance. Usually it will begin with some fantastic trade but, depending on the crowd, it often winds up with some feat of physical prowess, death-defying daring or sexual triumph.
But the hands down best story we’ve ever heard is the story of the fund manager who beat Michael Jordan in a one-on-one game of hoops. Until now we considered it an urban myth. Something guys told themselves in the dark hours of the night to reassure themselves that their degrees in physics didn’t really make them clumsy nerds.
But the story is true. John Rogers, founder and CEO of Ariel Mutual Finds, the nation’s largest minority-run mutual fund, beat Jordan during a stay at Jordan’s Senior Flight School, a fancy basketball camp for people with a love of the sport and a lot of money. Chris Ballard at Sports Illustrated’s Fan Nation blog got his hands on the video tape and tells the story.
Details after the jump.
The game begins, fittingly, with Jordan still ribbing a previous victim. "Don’t be mad at me, I'm just too good," he booms. "What, you think I had this camp just so you all could beat me?" Taking the ball first, Rogers drives right and lofts in a runner. Then he goes left to hit a leaner. The crowd of 150 or so -- campers but also coaches like John Thompson and Mike Krzyzewski -- begins to murmur. Predictably, Jordan evens it, and the end appears imminent until... Michael misses a jumper. Then he clangs another!
So Rogers again hurtles left and, nearing the hoop, jumps off both feet. Jordan, clearly into it now, times his leap to swallow up the shot. Only Rogers, in a move he’s practiced a thousand times but that still appears impossibly awkward, leans away from MJ as if eluding the curl of a crashing wave. He spins the ball up, up, up and over Jordan’s fingertips, off the glass and in. On the video the first thing you hear is Jordan ("Oh, no!"), followed by comedian and camper Damon Wayans, who jumps at the chance to mock MJ. (Lest you think Jordan had lost his edge, he ¬immediately brought Wayans onto the court and ¬humiliated him 3–0.)
Naturally, Jordan demanded a rematch with Rogers, right? Actually, he didn't. ¬Instead he hugged Rogers -- the two go back a ways from Jordan’s days in Chicago -- and said, not so huggably, "Next time we're on the court together, I’ll show you what it’s like to play in the NBA." But that has yet to happen.