Common Recalls Michael Jordan’s Brutal Critique of His Basketball Skills: ‘He Told Me to Stick to Rapping’

Common arrives at the "Foundation" Season 2 Global Premiere; Michael Jordan and Jeanie Buss attend the Cincoro Tequila launch

Common is remembering some brutally honest words from basketball legend Michael Jordan.

In a Men’s Health interview published earlier this month, the musician and actor, 51, shared how he grew up in Chicago with dreams of playing basketball, but turned to music after a high school injury.

At a celebrity basketball game in 2010, Jordan, 60, surveyed his skills, but was unfortunately unimpressed, according to “The People” singer, who used to be a ball-boy for the Chicago Bulls, the retired athlete’s team.

“I just played in the celebrity game and hit the last free throws to seal the game,” Common said in the outlet’s video footage. But when he greeted the NBA star, “He told me to stick to rapping.”

“I couldn’t believe that he couldn’t recognize that my game was actually a good game,” he added lightheartedly of Jordan “grounding” him with that comment.

Common (L) and Michael Jordan attend the Exclusive FABULOUS 23 Dinner hosted by Jordan Brand during All-Star Weekend
Common and Michael Jordan in February 2010.CHARLEY GALLAY/GETTY IMAGES

The sports star was at least a fan of Common’s music — he had gone to one of his shows at the House of Blues in Chicago, but the musician wisely didn’t alert the crowd that Jordan was there until his last song.

“I was smart enough to do that at the end of the show,” Common said with a smile, because “everybody just watched him and forgot I was on stage.”

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Hoping to impress another popular public — and political — figure with his athletic skills, In 2021, the rapper opened up about his fondness for basketball during an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, telling the host how former president Barack Obama owes him a one-on-one game.

“My mother actually is really great friends with somebody who works for that president. And for one of my birthdays, she got me a gift that I was supposed to play President Obama in a 1:1 in basketball,” he explained. “It was years ago, and I never got to fulfill that prophecy.”

Common plays on the court during the NBA All-Star celebrity game presented by Final Fantasy XIII held at the Dallas Convention Center
Common at the NBA All-Star celebrity game in February 2010.JASON MERRITT/GETTY IMAGES

Common went on to say that he “loves” basketball and intends to put on his A-game if the opportunity with the former commander-in-chief ever comes to fruition.

“I was ready to play him, and I was ready to beat him no matter what,” he said. “And I wasn’t going to back down because he was the president, or Secret Service is around doing their thing. I was gonna go hard. I’ve got love for Michelle, I’ve got love for the family, but I wanted to beat Barack Obama.”

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