There are plenty of epic trash-talking stories involving Michael Jordan floating around out there in the world. From the time he ethered his own teammate Stacey King to the time he ruined Muggsy Bogues’ career, MJ is a legend when it comes to talking trash. And while there have been people who have tried to keep up with MJ in the trash talk department, he has gotten the last laugh in most of those instances by making those people look foolish. Just ask Magic Johnson.
There is at least one person who managed to get the upper hand against MJ during a trash-talking battle, though, and oddly enough, you probably have absolutely no idea who he is. His name is Randy Towner, and he is currently the general manager and head professional at Firekeeper Golf Course in Mayetta, Kansas. He also used to be the Director of Golf at Alvamar Country Club in Lawrence, Kansas and made a name for himself early on in his career by competing in the Mid-West Professional Golfer Association. And according to a story that North Carolina basketball coach Roy Williams told writer Helen Ross in a long PGATour.com piece about the origin of MJ’s love for golf, Towner found a way to leave MJ "speechless" with some very unlikely trash talk sometime back in the early 2000s.
In the PGATour.com piece, Williams revealed that MJ flew out to Lawrence one day when Williams was still coaching at Kansas to attend his Jayhawk basketball camp. During a break in the action, MJ, Williams, and Towner made their way out to the golf course to blow off some steam, and Williams said that he remembers MJ talking to Towner about how straight he was able to hit the ball time after time. MJ seemed upset over the fact that many of his shots were erratic and landed all over the place, and he wondered why he couldn’t do what Towner was doing. And that’s when Towner responded by taking a pretty classic jab at MJ over why he was playing so much better than him.
From the PGATour.com story:
One year when Williams was coaching at Kansas, he remembers playing with his home pro, Randy Towner, and Jordan between breaks at the Jayhawk basketball camp.
Jordan was lamenting how straight Towner was hitting the ball while his own drives were more erratic.
"Randy just looked at him and pointed his finger at Michael and tapped him in the chest and said, 'NBA,' and then turned to himself, tapped his finger at his own chest and said, 'PGA,'" says Williams, who once played with Jordan when he shot a 69.
"He said, Michael, there's a gap there that you're not going to cross...It was one of the few times that I've ever seen Michael Jordan speechless."
Congrats to that guy for doing what so many other pro athletes have failed to do.
Don’t worry, though. It sounds like MJ enjoys his fair share of trash-talking wins when he’s out on the golf course. In another part of the piece on MJ’s golf game, Ed Ibarguen—a golf pro who has been the Director of Golf at Duke University Golf Club in Durham, North Carolina since 1988 and who taught MJ how to play golf at the Finley Golf Club in Chapel Hill, North Carolina back in the 1980s—talked about how MJ usually tries to gain a competitive advantage over his opponents on the golf course before they even hit the first tee.
Ibarguen revealed that most people who golf with MJ want to wager with him, and he said that MJ has a pretty savage response for everyone who brings up the idea of placing a bet. Rather than picking a specific dollar amount, MJ puts the onus on the other person to come up with a wager that works for them.
"Everybody’s always wanting to gamble with [him]," Ibarguen said. "Well, you know, Michael’s happy betting a dollar; he’s happy just doing it for personal pride. But he gets all these people that come on up and say, 'Okay, how much are we going to play for?' Michael just basically came up with a standard. He said, 'I’ll play for whatever makes you nervous.' Which was a great line."
A great line indeed. Maybe not quite as good as the one Towner hit him with, but it’s apparently such a good line that even Tiger Woods uses it when he finds himself in the same situation out on the golf course.
You can read all about the rest of MJ’s golf exploits in the PGATour.com piece about his golf game here.