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Ball Don't Lie

How Bow Wow learned not to wear Allen Iverson’s shoes around Michael Jordan

Eric Freeman
Ball Don't Lie

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Michael Jordan hugs Allen Iverson while Stephon Marbury sees a shiny object (Randy Belice/ Getty).

Over the years, basketball fans have become accustomed to considering Michael Jordan as a fairly vindictive and flawed person, not just an unimpeachable legend of the game. From his infamous Hall of Fame induction speech to more intimate profiles, Jordan has come across as someone who holds grudges and isn't afraid to interrupt the rules of polite company if it means getting what he wants. Presumably it's much easier for him to do these things than it is for an average schmoe, because he is the most famous basketball player ever.

Despite this now familiar perspective on Jordan's personal life, it's still somewhat jarring to encounter new details of his everday actions. Such is the case of rapper and actor Bow Wow (formerly Lil Bow Wow), a longtime friend of Jordan's sons. On one occasion, he found out just how invested Jordan is in his relationship with Nike. From a recent interview with Montreality (via For The Win):

I’m actually real cool with his sons, Marcus and Jeffrey…I would say, we kinda grew up together. Being on tour, every time we came to Chicago, even at the age of like 15, they would come around and we just clicked.

There’d be times I stayed over at the family, ya know, Mr. Jordan’s house…actually a funny story, I actually wore some Iverson’s to their house…and Michael Jordan woke us all up and was like ‘Whose is these?’…and I was like ‘they’re mine’…and I never saw My A.I.’s after that moment. I was in some Jordan’s going down to play some basketball.

Let this be a lesson to anyone who encounters Michael Jordan: do not wear another player's signature shoes around His Airness. Because, if he sees them, he might take them from you forever. Of course, the good news is that you'll get a new pair of Air Jordans from MJ himself, which is probably a better value proposition and cooler story in the long run.

Perhaps inadvertently, Bow Wow's story also connects to a relevant experience from his past. In the 2002 film "Like Mike," a young orphan played by Mr. Wow happens upon a pair of magical shoes (in a white and powder blue colorway reminiscent of North Carolina's look) that gives him the power to play like an NBA All-Star. Given the title and UNC connection, it is heavily implied that the shoes belonged to or had some relation to Michael Jordan. However, Bow Wow's style of play, No. 3 jersey, and cornrows make it pretty clear that he becomes more like Allen Iverson than anyone else. Effectively, the movie uses Jordan's legacy to prop up a superficial version of A.I.

Bow Wow does not specify when he had his Iversons swapped his Jordans, so it's unclear if MJ had seen "Like Mike" and wanted to make a serious point about confusing his historic accomplishments for the style of a new star. On the other hand, I don't think there's any harm in assuming this to be the case. Because, when you get right down to it, it's pretty amazing to consider Michael Jordan getting really upset at a movie in which Jonathan Lipnicki plays a young child named "Murph."

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