Let it never be said that Malik Monk lacks confidence.
The 19-year-old guard, who lit up the college ranks during his lone year at Kentucky before coming off the board with the 11th pick in June’s 2017 NBA draft, has had to cool his heels for the past month or so after a sprained right ankle landed him on the sidelines for Summer League. But several weeks of inactivity clearly hasn’t done much to quell the competitiveness of the Charlotte Hornets’ newest scoring threat. In fact, it seems, it’s only emboldened him … judging by his response to one particularly hot question.
During an appearance on Saturday at an autograph signing in Simpsonville, Ky., Monk was asked once again how he thought he’d fare in a game of one-on-one against his new boss, Hornets owner (and, y’know, greatest basketball player of all-time) Michael Jordan. Give the young man credit for consistency: his answer was the same as it was at Summer League.
“He’s pretty old right now,” Monk said, according to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer. “I think I can get him.”
Monk is far from the first youngblood to feel like he can take down His Airness now that he’s a couple of decades removed from his heyday. Those who have tried, though, haven’t fared so hot. Ask O.J. Mayo how the challenge went for him back in 2006. Or, better yet, Monk can keep it inside the Charlotte locker room and ask teammate Michael Kidd-Gilchrist how going one-on-one with the boss went for him four years ago, just as MJ was about to hit age 50.
“It was hard for me,” Kidd-Gilchrist told USA TODAY’s Adi Joseph. “I lost. He’s the greatest man that ever played the game. Oh, yeah. He’s good.”
Yes, four years is a long time, even for a player as great as Jordan. (Especially when the end of that line lands you at 54 years old.) And yes, Monk was one of the most explosive players in the draft, a microwave of a two-guard capable of catching fire and pouring in buckets in a hurry. But while confidence is a very good thing for a young man about to enter the crucible of the world’s best basketball league, discretion might be the better part of valor here.
Best-case scenario: you’re right. You bust up the boss. You prove that you, today, are better at basketball than a 54-year-old man who also happens to be the guy who signs your paychecks, thus forcing one of the most psychopathically competitive people the sport’s ever seen that he actually can’t still break the dudes he drafts despite them being 35 years younger than he is. I suspect this would not go over well.
And then, of course, there’s the worst-case: that you’re wrong, that you can’t beat a 54-year-old, and that he never lets you hear the end of it for the entirety of your time in Queen City. You wouldn’t want to lose that untarnished confidence on the eve of your first pro season, would you?
Consider your options, Malik, and maybe take a cue from your man Frank Kaminsky: should the topic come up, just say thanks-but-no-thanks. You can’t completely control the tone and tenor of your workplace, but not poking the maniacal dude in the owner’s office is within your control, and seems like a pretty good idea.
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