Metta World Peace and Michael Jordan never played together on the Chicago Bulls. World Peace -- now Metta Ford-Attest after his -- was drafted by the Bulls in 1999, one year after Jordan had retired from the NBA for a second time. But, even though they didn't suit up together in Chicago, the two did battle each other in private pickup games in Chicago early on in World Peace's career. During one such contest in the 2001 offseason, World Peace got a little physical with Jordan during game play and actually ended up breaking the six-time champion's ribs.
The incident was well-documented at the time, and many speculated that the injury sustained by Jordan was the result of a physical altercation with World Peace. However, that wasn't the case. According to World Peace, who reflected on the incident during a recent appearance on the "Tampering" podcast hosted by The Athletic's Sam Amick and Joe Vardon:
"[Jordan] would say, 'Hey, make sure you come back [to play pick-up at the private gym in Chicago].' And I'm like, 'Oh wow, Michael Jordan said 'Come back' to play because of how hard I played against him. And then you know, [on that day] when he locks you in the post, I tried to deny because the key to Jordan is you can't let him touch the ball, right? So then as I was denying with the left hand, my right elbow went under his hand that was under his left hand that was grabbing me, so I get his hand out the way, then I hit him with my elbow in his ribs and then the ref called an offensive foul. Jordan had refs at every single run, and the ref called an offensive foul, and I'm like, 'Yeah!' And then Jordan went like this [holds his side] and I was like 'Oh…'
"I remember [thinking] like, 'I think I hurt Michael Jordan,' so I went home and I didn't leave my house for like two days. I didn't go back to the gym, and everybody's like, 'Where you at?' I was just home. I was drinking some Hennessy, and the Bulls didn't hear from me, and then … my agent called me at the time, it was Mark Bartelstein. And he called me and said, 'Hey, you all right?' I said, 'No, I think I hurt Michael Jordan.'"
World Peace understandably felt terrible about injuring a player he grew up idolizing, but ultimately a phone call from Jordan set things straight between the two. Here's World Peace, again from The Athletic:
"Then it came out: Michael Jordan's ribs [are] broke. And Metta World Peace had a fight with Michael Jordan. And I'm like, 'I did not have a fight with Michael Jordan.' They said, 'He punched Michael Jordan.' And I'm like, 'Oh man…' so I didn't want to leave [my apartment]. And then Jordan calls me, and Jordan was like, 'Hey man, it's OK. Things happen, and don't worry about it.' And then I went back to playing. It was one of the greatest phone calls I got in my life."
Jordan was ultimately able to bounce back from the injury, as he went on to play two more seasons for the Washington Wizards from 2001 to 2003. Meanwhile, World Peace went on to develop a reputation as a tough, hard-nosed player, and the early incident with Jordan surely worked to bolster that reputation.