Most basketball fans of the 90s probably remember Rex Chapman as the first exceptional white dunker in the NBA. Yeah, Tom Chambers had one of the greatest dunks of all-time but Chambers didn’t have the flair that the Kentucky star and Hornets lottery pick did. Chapman also had a much better performance in the NBA dunk contest, finishing third behind Dee Brown and the Reign Man in 1991, while Chambers’ dunk contest resume is one single dunk.
After a few exciting seasons in Charlotte and a couple of injury-plagued seasons with the Bullets, Chapman was shipped to South Beach, where he had arguably his most memorable game (not best, I’m going with his 42 points against the Sonics in GM1 of the 97 playoffs) of his career: on February 23rd of 1996, Chapman knocked down 9 of 10 3-pointers and scored 39 points in a rare victory over Michael Jordan and the 72-10 UnbeataBulls.
”They just came out from the tip-off to whip our butts,” Jordan said after the game. ”And we didn’t feel the lashing, or wake up from it, until it was too late in the game. We just didn’t come to play.”
The craziest thing about the Bulls losing to this Miami team was this team was barely a team. The game happened the day after the Heat made three trades involving 10 players. One of the starters in this game, Tony Smith, arrived just hours before tip-off. But, the only Heat player who really mattered on this night was the guy Michael Jordan tried to recruit to North Carolina a decade earlier, Rex Chapman! Actually, that’s not true at all, the Heat did have hall of fame center Alonzo Mourning in the middle and he put up 19 points and 12 boards. Voshon Leonard scored 19 off the bench and a fresh off the plane Tony Smith scored 16 points and dished out a game-high 7 assists. BUT, it was Rex Chapman who had Dan Patrick saying “en fuego” on Sportscenter and it was Rex Chapman who got in Jordan’s face and trash-talked “Black Jesus.”
The Black Jesus comes from a 2011 interview Rex did with FoxSports. Here’s a couple of interesting sound bites from it.
“Playing against Michael, especially when I came in, was always great. One: I was in Charlotte. He was from Carolina so [University of North] Carolina fans loved him and they also wanted liked crazy for us to beat them. We were also playing them six times a year, and I think that first year we played them twice in the exhibition season. So, I was seeing Black Jesus eight times a year, which was good and bad.
“I loved playing against Michael. For one reason, the main reason, was that he hated chasing screens. That was — or kind of became — my thing after awhile. I knew I was going to get open looks all night long. It was just a matter of whether I was going to make them.
20 years after his memorable performance against Jordan, 5 years after the Fox interview and 2 years after his head-scratching arrest, Rex made an appearance on The Dan Patrick show, talked about his performance against MJ, the truth behind the “trash-talking” and how Jordan got some payback.