The majority of basketball fans would give a limb to be in B.J. Armstrong’s shoes at a Los Angeles restaurant in 2014.
Armstrong, who won three titles with the Bulls in 1990-1993, planned to have dinner with Michael Jordan, and when the pair arrived, they found a third seat at the table.
Armstrong asked if a guest was joining them, and Jordan told him that Kobe Bryant would be tagging along.
According to the New York Post, Armstrong knew Kobe, as they shared an agent, Arn Tellem, at one time. But having two of the greatest basketball players ever all to himself was a foreign concept.
Shortly after Bryant arrived, he and Jordan were dissecting every intricacy of the other’s game, and decided that Jordan would have a slight edge because his hands were bigger than Bryant’s.
“They were playing a virtual game of 1-on-1 at dinner,” Armstrong said. “I just sat there and listened to them talk about the love they had for the game. They were so sophisticated; they were talking about footwork, how they conditioned themselves, how they would box out. The detail that they had, the respect that they had for the game … I wish I could have seen them play in their prime.”
The public eventually caught wind that Kobe and Jordan were having dinner together, and one got out through a back door, another through a side door, and Armstrong was left to deal with the tidal wave of people.
“It was chaos,” Armstrong said. “And they were in basketball heaven.”
Dealing with Jordan’s stardom wasn’t anything new for Armstrong, who got a front-row seat to circus that accompanied MJ his entire career.
“I don’t wish stardom on anyone. When I hear people say, ‘This guy’s a star,’ I always say, ‘Good luck.’ What it takes to be a star at that level is beyond. Always having security around, dealing with tickets, he always had to be turned on. There’s no preparation for that.
“I always say, to this day, that the Air Jordan guy was great and God bless him. But I’ll always just remember Michael, the guy.”