One-on-one against Michael Jordan is the ultimate basketball fantasy. The mere mention of a time-machine-enabled matchup between a young Jordan and LeBron James is enough to make headlines. Now that Jordan is 50, brash youngsters seem to feel safe challenging his all-time supremacy. The latest brash youngster is Robert Pera, the 35-year-old founder of Ubiquiti Networks and owner of the Memphis Grizzlies. Earlier this week on Twitter, Pera challenged Jordan to a game, offering a $1 million charity donation as an enticement.
Pera has a thing for one-on-one challenges. (This may have something to do with his fantastic success building a $3.5 billion company.) A matchup with Tony Allen, who plays for Pera’s Grizzlies, was postponed in late September. A couple weeks later, Pera threw this Twitter taunt toward Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban:
The Jordan challenge followed shortly after.
As it happens, I’ve played one-on-one against Pera. And Jordan, to borrow a phrase, would make quick work of him. Pera and I went head-to-head outside Ubiquiti’s Silicon Valley office when I was reporting this profile. As I wrote then, Pera can play. A stout 6-foot-3, he straight out-muscled me. I barely mustered a point in two games. I saw him dunk twice.
But then I am a skinny playground duffer. My love for the game is not matched by my talent. (And even I took Pera in a game of HORSE.) Jordan, on the other hand, can still do this:
And I’m confident he has enough left in him to do this to Pera:
I, for one, would like to see that happen. So I say go for it, Mike. Here is what you need to know:
• Pera has a decent midrange jumper with a slight hitch before the release.
• He likes to cross over and step back near the free-throw line.
• His favorite move is to start right and spin left (at the 1:00 mark):
• Finally, he has a good head for business. Bring a notebook.