Even in family pickup basketball, John and Jim Harbaugh are competitive as heck

As kids, John and Jim Harbaugh competed over juvenile things, like who could eat lunch the fastest. But now that they have kids of their own, now that they lead big-time football programs, the brothers have grown into mature and even-tempered men, fathers who know how to take a chill pill.

Just kidding. Put them together, and they still act like they're trying to be the coolest kid in class.


This week, John Harbaugh sat down with Sports Illustrated's Peter King to talk about the Ravens, the Super Bowl and more. Most notable: that time he played pickup basketball with the other Harbaugh clan.

Over Memorial Day weekend last year, John Harbaugh and his family were staying at a Michigan cottage they have next to Lake Huron. He got Jim and his family to drive up for a visit.

There's a basketball hoop in the driveway, so they started shooting around. A four-on-four game started. On one team were John; his wife, Ingrid; their teenage daughter, Alison; and, from what I can divine, Sarah Harbaugh, Jim's wife. On the other team were Jim and three children, Addison, Katie and Jack, who are between 2 and 6 years old.

"You can picture the kind of game it is, right?" John joked to King on "The MMQB Podcast." "Alison happens to hit a couple jumpers, and the next thing you know, we're playing to seven. And we're up maybe 5-1. Next thing you know, Jim starts going over the top of Allison for rebounds and put-backs. He's boxing her out 10 feet away from the basket, and so next thing you know, it's 5-5 and Jim's made all the shots for his team, of course.

"I'm like, 'Maybe Addie would like to touch the ball. Maybe Katie or Jack could dribble a little bit here now and then. So it goes 6-6. Long rebound comes off the side. He goes and gets it. I see Alison happens to be over there. So I see him going to the basket. He's going to take Alison to the hole. He's about 235 [pounds], 6 [feet] 3 1/2.

"So I'm going to go try to cut him off. And I get across with my right armbar, across his chest. I'm trying to body-check him into the boards, into the pricker bushes over there behind the driveway, and he just powers his way to the basket and lays one over the top, a reverse layup off the board. And all he can talk about is how 'We won.' He picks up Jack, goes, 'Doesn't it feel great, Jack, to win? Doesn't it feel great to win?' "

About an hour later, Harbaugh recalled, the brothers happened to cross paths on the backyard porch. "He looks me right in the eye and he says, 'Hey, John, have you won anything yet?' "

King made the obvious observation: Um, why not bring up the Harbaugh Bowl?

"I kind of looked him in the eye," Harbaugh said. "I felt like that was an unspoken communication. I didn't feel like I needed to say that in that moment. I tried to take the high road."

But ask who won the last pickup game, he joked later, and John will tell you.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh talked about what his brother, Jim, was able to accomplish in four years as coach of the San Fransisco 49ers. (Kevin Richardson/Baltimore Sun video)