We LIVE for stories of perseverance, grittiness, and determination. We hear them all the time from racers in our community, but we also love to report on inspirational, badass stories from OUTSIDE the Spartan Universe — stories that we can learn from, that can help us become even more unbreakable. In Tough News, we share what we're hearing, why it's important, and why Spartans need to pay attention.
Based on talent alone, Michael Jordan would have been one of the greatest basketball players of all time, if not the greatest.
But his work ethic, tenaciousness, desire to win at all costs, and unmatched competitive spirit cemented his status as the inarguable GOAT.
The six-time NBA champion and six-time NBA Finals MVP did whatever he could to gain an advantage over the competition, both on the court and off. Jordan was constantly attempting to gain an edge and increase his odds of winning.
That mindset extended into the weight room, where the now-58-year-old spent endless hours during his career getting stronger and more difficult to defend. In an effort to withstand constant, suffocating double- and triple-teams, he put on a substantial amount of muscle as the 1980s turned into the 90s, and his biceps were the most visual representation of his newfound build. (Look how much more imposing he was in 1996, compared to his rookie season in 1984.)
As it turns out, though, the emphasis on his biceps wasn't as much about performance on the court as it was about intimidation. MJ wanted his foes to take note of his size, giving them even more pause before he drove to the hole.
'The Intimidation Factor'
"The theory was biceps were just for show and didn't really make someone a better basketball player, and that was probably true," Tim Grover, Jordan's former personal trainer, wrote in his new book, Winning: The Unforgiving Race to Greatness. "But we were going for that 0.0001 percent, which included the intimidation factor of his biggest, stronger, more dominant physique.
"What's the first thing you see on a basketball player when he takes off his warm-ups? Those arms. Details matter."
Grover, who also worked with such NBA legends as Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade, further revealed what the current Charlotte Hornets owner ate before games to optimize his performance. Needing more than just carbs to stay fueled through the duration of a 48-minute (or longer) contest, Jordan added a steak to his pre-game meal, to great effect.
"We had to devise a new plan for Michael, based on his body chemistry and schedule, his playing minutes, and the massive amount of energy he expended on the court," Grover wrote, according to Men's Health. "The steak slowed down the digestion of everything else he was eating – the starches, vegetables, etc. – and kept his blood sugar consistent so he had more energy throughout the entire game."
This badass story is also a perfect excuse to watch a few epic highlights of Jordan absolutely toying with his competition. All these years later, you still can't take your eyes off of him when he's on the floor. Simply unstoppable. We'll never see another like him.