Michael Jordan wasn't easily intimidated on a basketball court. From the time that he was in high school through his final game in the NBA, Jordan never shied away from competition. Instead, he embraced it head on and usually came out on top. While it may have seemed like Jordan wasn't scared of facing off against anyone, that apparently wasn't the case.
According to Buzz Peterson, Jordan's college roommate and teammate at the University of North Carolina, there was one person in particular who injected some fear into M.J. every time he stepped onto the court. However, this wasn't anyone on the Tar Heels' roster, or even an NBA player. Instead, it was NFL All-Pro linebacker Lawrence Taylor, who had attended North Carolina prior to being drafted by the New York Giants in 1981, and apparently made frequent returns to campus.
Here's what Peterson, a member of UNC's 1982 title team, had to say about the dynamic between Jordan and Taylor in an interview with The Athletic:
There is one guy that I always thought, and I know to this day — I don't know if Michael won't admit or not, but I swear that he had a little bit of fear of — and it wasn't a basketball player. It was a football player by the name of Lawrence Taylor. LT, phenomenal athlete. Could guard east to west, as quick as anybody, could jump, big hands, strong and was a bit crazy. So Michael in the back of his mind said, "Shit, I better be careful with this guy." And LT always wanted to guard him."
Jordan admitting he was intimidated by anyone out on the floor is highly unlikely, but if there was one person who had a feel for Jordan's feelings at that point in time, it would be his teammate and roommate at North Carolina. Jordan, in fact, was even the best man at Peterson's wedding, and Peterson currently serves as the assistant general manager for the Charlotte Hornets, the team owned by Jordan.
Taylor was a freak athletically. During his NFL career, he won two Super Bowls, made 10 Pro Bowls, was named both MVP and Defensive Player of the Year (three times) and he led the league in sacks in 1996. He was also about 6-3 and 240 pounds. Thus, given his sheer size and athletic ability, it's certainly believable that Jordan would have second thoughts any time they matched up on the floor, even if he would never admit it.