Michael Jordan was the best basketball player of all time. With his height, speed, and athleticism, he could do it all on the court. How did he become so good? What is your strategy for guarding him?
The irish nba players 2021 is a question that asks how the person feels about guarding Michael Jordan.
Pat Burke was really a one-of-a-kind NBA player. “Unique” is one of those terms that gets tossed about in sports commentary much too frequently, to the point where its meaning is lost. Nothing can be “very one-of-a-kind,” since to be one-of-a-kind is to stand alone. If you believe it’s ridiculous to refer to a lady as “extremely pregnant,” you’ll understand. It’s a binary state, either yes or no. But what distinguishes a player who has averaged 3.7 points and 2.1 rebounds over three NBA seasons? More to the point, how can a guy like this be listed with Michael Jordan, perhaps the greatest player of all time?
Burke played four seasons at Auburn University after graduating from high school in Florida. He spent the most of his 12 professional seasons in Europe after being undrafted. Burke, on the other hand, was an NBA player for three years, the first and still only of his kind. And he once faced off against the great Jordan, albeit for a short while.
Pat Burke is the only Irishman who has ever played in the NBA.
Pat Burke, the NBA’s lone player from Ireland, played three seasons and had a short head-to-head matchup with Michael Jordan. | Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images
Pat Burke was born in Tullamore, County Offaly, Ireland’s central region. The name Tulach Mhór, which means “big mound” in Irish, is spelled Tulach Mhór. Burke was a huge large guy from a great mound, so to speak. His family relocated to Cleveland when he was four years old. Before his family moved south for warmer weather, he took up hockey.
Burke grew to 6-foot-7 at the age of 16, and he was recruited by the basketball coach at Cape Coral High School. He was a tough Irish banger by the time he left Auburn, standing 6-foot-11 and weighing 250 pounds. He debuted in the NBA in 2002 with the Orlando Magic, and it was then that he met Michael Jordan, who was playing for the Washington Wizards in his last season (and this time he meant it).
When The Last Dance debuted on Netflix in 2020, he informed Kieran Cunningham of the Irish website Buzz that he was a big fan. After all, why not? Burke was the only Irishman to compete against Michael Jordan in an NBA arena. It was January 2003, and it was unlike anything the huge guy had ever imagined.
Burke had an unexpected confrontation with Michael Jordan.
The Magic were paying a visit to the Wizards at the MCI Center in Washington at the time. Orlando was within three points early in the fourth quarter but the Wizards pulled away thanks to 18 fourth-quarter points from Larry Hughes and Kwame Brown combined.
Burke had his chance with two minutes remaining. During a timeout, Coach Doc Rivers emptied the bench. The Magic were down 106–91 at the time. Jordan was still on the court for the Wizards. What happened next could not have been imagined by the huge Irishman:
“I sat on the bench, staring at the clock. I’d informed the coach that I’d never played Michael before, and he assured me that I would. However, the time was ticking…. Then I received the thumbs up. I’ve never warmed up as quickly as she did. I walked onto the floor and checked to see who I’d be covering – Michael Jordan!
“All he did was stare at me and say, ‘Just don’t harm me, big dude.’ I was banging into him, attempting to defend him, and all of this was running through my mind: ‘How am I going to protect Michael Jordan?’
Burke, in a sense, had the better of the contest. Hughes’ shot was blocked, and he retrieved the rebound. A break in play enabled Wizards coach Doug Collins to take Jordan off the court after Orlando scored on the opposite end. The Jordan-Burke battle was finished after 58 seconds of action.
Pat Burke has had a successful career spanning five nations and two continents.
When Pat Burke (31) was playing for Polish team Asseco Prokom Sopot in 2008, he didn’t have to face Michael Jordan. | Euroleague Basketball/Wojciech Figurski/Getty Images
Pat Burke returned to Europe after one season with the Magic. He spent two seasons in Spain before joining the Phoenix Suns for a two-year tenure in 2005–07.
Burke also performed in Greece, Russia, and Poland, in addition to Spain. His professional career was highlighted by a EuroLeague championship with Panathinaikos in 2000. But it’s his NBA days that he cherishes the most. After all, he did share a rookie season with Hall of Famer Yao Ming. He did, however, win three national championships in Greece, as well as one apiece in Spain and Poland.
Burke, on the other hand, cherishes his time in the NBA.
“I remember driving by their arena in Atlanta,” Burke remarked. “They had a huge banner with the NBA’s foreign stars on it.” Ming and Burke were up there, too! That was a great honor in and of itself.”
And, well, Pat Burke drew Michael Jordan as his main defense for nearly a minute. It isn’t unique, but it is uncommon.
Basketball Reference and RealGM provided the statistics.
RELATED: Shaquille O’Neal was stunned when Michael Jordan retired in 1993 after winning his third consecutive title: ‘I Just Want to Say I Miss Playing With Him.’
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