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James Worthy, Michael Jordan

You're never going to believe this, but here's a story about Michael Jordan being ultra-competitive.

When Jordan -- Emsley A. Laney High School Class of 1981 -- visited the University of North Carolina, he was met by a student two years older named James Worthy. When Worthy was a junior and Jordan was a freshman, those two and Sam Perkins won the national championship. Worthy was the Final Four Most Outstanding Player and went on to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 1982 NBA Draft.

Of course, as good as Worthy was -- he made seven All-Star Games, won an NBA Finals MVP and made the Basketball Hall of Fame -- Jordan was the better pro. And while Worthy and Jordan have maintained a friendship of more than 35 years, MJ did not let that affect them on the court -- even during All-Star Weekends. Talking to ThePostGame on behalf of NBA All-Star voting, which ends today at 11:59 p.m. ET, Worthy remembered his All-Star experiences and the competitiveness Jordan brought to "his platform."

ThePostGame: What do you personally enjoy about the All-Star Game today?
JAMES WORTHY: It's changed a little bit since the All-Star Games when I was playing, where you had centers, guards and forwards. Now, you just have "frontcourt" and "guards," and the voting system has changed a little bit, where now you have 50 percent of the voting goes to the fans, 25 percent goes to the players and 25 percent goes to the media. So, you get pretty balanced voting. Then the idea that once the starters are chosen, the two leading vote getters -- the captains -- get to choose from the remaining starters and they get to choose from both conferences. It's no longer just Western Conference playing against the Eastern Conference. It's just NBA All-Stars playing against NBA All-Stars.

TPG: Your first All-Star Game was in 1986. You started with two other Lakers (Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar). Did it feel like you had "made it" when you showed up to that first All-Star Game?
WORTHY: I did. I thought after we won in 1985 against the Celtics -- that was the first year I started -- I started to get used to my position, to being the third guy behind Magic and Kareem and we always seemed to have the best record around the All-Star break. I was very appreciative then. It was an honor.

TPG: You played in seven straight All-Star Games. Was there any guy that you looked forward to playing with at the All-Star Game every year?
WORTHY: The All-Star Game was always free-wheeling and you had very limited time to prepare. However, back then, you always wanted to beat the Eastern Conference. Going up against Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and the Boston crew, then you had guys like Isiah Thomas and the "Bad Boys," and you had Philadelphia with Moses Malone and Dr. J., all those guys. It was tough to see one of my favorite players, Dr. J, playing with the Celtics.

TPG: Was Michael Jordan friendly during those games or did he take it seriously?
WORTHY: Michael doesn't take anything lightly. It could be a game of backgammon or it could be the NBA Finals, they're treated the same. This All-Star Game, that was his platform. He wanted to be the best, he wanted to play against the best, and for him, the game was on.

TPG: Did you meet Michael for the first time his freshman year or did you meet him while he was getting recruited?
WORHTY: I met him on a recruiting trip. That was the first time I met him. I'd heard a lot about him. I met him on Friday. That was the beginning of a great career, a great friendship.

TPG: Did you get to play any basketball with him that weekend?
WORTHY: No. I don't even know if we were allowed to. I'd never seen him him play. It was just the usual cordial thing. I think there was a football game, kind of got to know the campus, that type of thing.

TPG: When Michael Jordan shows up, freshman year [at UNC], what were your first impressions of him before the season even started?
WORTHY: I knew Michael would be an All-Star right away. I knew he had the talent. I knew he was still learning the theory and the science of the game, so he was somewhat of a late bloomer. But I didn't think that he would take it to the level that he took it.

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