Michael Jordan Refereed a 3-on-3 Game Between Charles Barkley, Jason Kidd, Mike Finley and Wrestlers

Stephen Douglas
Michael Jordan's team v Sumo Wrestlers - Old footage
Michael Jordan's team v Sumo Wrestlers - Old footage / gorillaSportsShow

Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Jason Kidd, Mike Finley and Damon Stoudemire went to Japan in 1996. While there, Jordan refereed a game of 3-on-3 that matched up Barkley, Kidd and Finley with three sumo wrestlers in front of a sold-out crowd. Hardwood Paroxysm did some digging and found out that the game was part of one of Nike’s first global events. Via Ad Age:

"A template for what Nike has in mind was established with “Hoop Heroes,” an event in Tokyo earlier this month."

"Held on two consecutive nights, each event was a slickly produced, 2-hour show headlined by Charles Barkley, Michael Jordan and other Nike basketball endorsers."

"High on entertainment values like music and lighting, and heavy on athlete-spectator interaction, the show even had some NBA stars challenging a group of Japan’s best sumo wrestlers to a game of basketball."

"Tokyo Broadcasting System televised the events; Nike is now shopping for an international distributor."

"Nike also set up a retail space for its athletic footwear and apparel, and reported brisk sales and hefty profits."

Can you imagine that Nike wasn’t truly “global” in the mid-90’s? Crazy. As for the game in the video above, there is a lot going on.

Going inside to Barkley early and often seems like a strange choice considering the size of their opponents.

The sumo wrestlers are huge, but seem to fully grasp the fundamentals of the sport.

According to the video description, these are sumo legends Akebono, Konishiki and Musashimaru.

By my count, the NBA stars lost 6-4.

Jason Kidd didn’t take a single shot.

The crowd gets the biggest kick out of Jordan calling fouls on Barkley.

A sumo wrestler dribbled the ball behind his back.