More intriguing footage of Michael Jordan has emerged. This time, MJ and fellow Nike pals, Charles Barkley, Jason Kidd, Michael Finley and Damon Stoudamire, are in Japan, taking part in the Hoop Heroes exhibition. According to Ad Age and the Arizona Daily Star, this event took place in September of 1996. The sumo wrestlers are Akebono, Konishiki & Musashimaru. At upwards of $500 for a courtside seat, you would hope that the crowd in attendance, got their money’s worth.
In the above-clip, Jordan referees a game of 3-on-3. It starts off strong; not surprisingly, Jordan goes to work on Barkley, calling him for a touch-foul almost instantly; much to the delight of the crowd. Due to the immense size of the sumo wrestlers, Charles Barkley appears more like a svelte-looking Scottie Pippen, than his usual self.
In a prescient-moment, during the 1994 NBA season – Jordan, then-retired from the sport he had dominated – wryly-said (referring to Barkley): “There comes a time in life when you need to try something new, and sumo wrestling may be that challenge for him, you never know”
The video instantly enters the canon of rare Michael Jordan footage. It recently surfaced on YouTube, but my research suggests it originated on Vimeo – whether or not the uploader is indeed the Konishiki – who features in the clip – remains to be seen.