Michael Jordan RumorsAll NBA Players
You don’t poke a sleeping bear. In 1999, between Michael Jordan’s second and third retirements, Chicago Bulls guard Corey Benjamin learned that the hard way. Skip Bayless, writing for the Chicago Tribune at the time, reported that Benjamin had issued an “ill-advised challenge” to His Airness. Jordan relentlessly abused the youngster, scoring on him with ease and talking all kinds of trash along the way. At one point, MJ told Benjamin exactly what he was going to do. “I’m going right back over there. C’mon, follow me. … You reach, I teach.” Turnaround jumper—cash.
Cody Zeller: So I talked to Rod Higgins for about a minute. I don’t remember much, I just remember being a little short with him. I wasn’t being rude, but I was just trying to get to #23. “Thanks for the opportunity, I look forward to playing for such a great organization,” etc. Rod said, “Alright, I’m going to pass on the phone. Congrats and welcome to the team.” Next on the phone was Rich, the GM. Rich was the one that I had talked with the most in the organization up to that point, so I recognized his voice. But again, I just said some pleasantries and raced through it — because MJ was next. “Thank you for the opportunity. I look forward to playing for the Bobcats,” etc. Let’s get on with it. I was imagining what I’d say to Michael. I’d tell him he was the best ever. I’d tell him how I watched him my whole life. I’d tell him how I admired his business skills. For the 14-year-old Cody Zeller, it was all a dream. Then he said “Alright, I’m going to pass the phone on to Rich…” I froze. That meant it was Michael Jordan on the line. He had gone out of order. I scrambled to say, “Thank you Mr. Jordan” — or maybe I just said, “OK.” I have no idea. I had just rambled on for a minute to the best basketball player ever and I didn’t even know it was him.
Charlotte has been intrigued with Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky with the No. 9 overall pick, league sources said. Kaminsky hasn’t worked out for the Hornets, but league sources believe that owner Michael Jordan has great interest in him.
When Bryant is told that the triangle prospered only because he was involved, he objects. “You’re supposed to win with a bunch of bums?” he said. “It baffles me to hear people talk about how this is a team sport and then say the triangle was only successful because Phil had great players. We were successful because we played in such a beautiful system. We had great coaches. It’s all in conjunction.” Jackson said: “You have a player like Michael Jordan, you’re going to have the opportunity to win championships. But to be able to do it consecutive times, three championships, and three more, that says a lot about what a team created.” So, I asked him, how does it feel when people say he won only because he had Jordan, Pippen, O’Neal and Bryant? He brightened. “Feels great!” he said. “I’m so glad I had those players. Made all the difference.”
To find a coach who does adapt his strategy year after year, I headed (by telephone) to the Research Triangle, to consult Mike Krzyzewski at Duke. “I never try to put my players in a system,” he said, not long before his adjustments enabled the Blue Devils to win the national championship. “I try to create a system that’s good for my players.” Had he thought of trying the triangle? The idea seemed to startle him. It was so successful, I ventured. “The triangle didn’t win crap!” he said sternly. “Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant! Whatever offense I run, that offense didn’t do it. Winning means you had the caliber of players capable of winning a championship.” Then he seemed to want to soothe the situation. “I have nothing against the triangle,” he said. “I think it’s a great offense. But it’s a lot better if Jordan loves it or Kobe loves it.”
Chandler and Gasol have enjoyed great careers, Brown and Curry not so much. It’s a reminder that betting the franchise’s future on big men is always risky, with the most infamous example coming in 1984 when Hakeem Olajuwon went No. 1, Sam Bowie went No. 2 and the player widely considered to be the best ever in the game was still on the board. A lesser-known blunder from that draft was that 15 teams passed on John Stockton. “You go back to the Olajuwon-Bowie-Jordan draft,” Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said. “In years past and maybe even today it makes sense to build around a big, but you don’t want to take a big because it’s a big and pass on the No. 3 pick — which turned out to be Michael Jordan.” Hence, maybe taking a guard the wiser move “It can be argued in today’s game that maybe you should do that,” Kupchak said.
Rick Bonnell: Eight days until draft night. @Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan was at Willie Cauley-Stein’s solo workout this morning.
Legacies need not be limited to the gaudy rings lined with gold, Joyce said. Unlike Jordan, James has already used his platform to speak out on perceived social injustice; he has taken on a leading role in the players’ union as its vice president; even in Miami, he never abandoned his native Akron. “At this point in his career, Michael was more concerned about selling sneakers,” Joyce said. “I know Michael a little and he might have problems with me saying that. But maybe it was more the people around him, who felt it would be better for his image to just focus on that. LeBron wants to use his platform to do more.”
Vlade Divac: Well, I think he just has to be a leader, make sure that he makes everybody better on the floor. Everything else, I think he’s right on target. He’s just so powerful, can dominate in the low post. He can play outside. He can play sometimes four, sometimes five. He’s a very smart basketball player. He has very great potential. Me: So you wouldn’t entertain any offers for him at this time? VD: Well, if it’s Michael Jordan there, I’ll think about it. (Laughs): 19 more rumors
Mentoring players and building a team help Jordan stay close to the game that he loves so much. Age and injuries ended Jordan’s playing career but as he recently told France’s L’Equipe, if he ever played one-on-one against any of the Hornets now, he is pretty sure that he would win. L’Equipe: Do you think you can play against some of your guys right now? Do you sometimes do that or not? Could you win on one-on-ones against them? Michael Jordan: I’m pretty sure I can, so I don’t want to do that and demolish their confidence. So I stay away from them, I let them think they’re good…but I’m too old to do that anyway.
Michael Jordan’s interview with L’Equipe in Paris: “That’s one of the reasons I’m still connected to the game. I want to win another championship as an owner. I know it’s a lot harder because I have very little influence in terms of me playing. (…) But when it happens, it’s going to be just as good.”
But long before “Deflategate,” the practice of putting extra air in or letting it out of a game ball — beyond the regulated amount — was used by some of the NBA’s biggest teams and stars. Take Shaquille O’Neal, for instance. “Sometimes, in the games during all my championship runs, if a ball was too hard, I let air out,” the former All-Star center said in a recent episode of “The Big Podcast With Shaq.” “I’d have a needle. A friend of mine would have a needle and I would get the game ball. … I needed that extra grip, but I wasn’t doing that for cheating purposes. I just needed the extra grip for my hands so I could palm it, a la Michael Jordan, the way he used to palm it.
“MJ was the man,” he says. Three years later, in 1998, the Bulls again faced the Hornets in the playoffs. On an off day, Jordan and Dennis Rodman were cruising down a Coliseum hallway when 10-year-old Steph came careening around a corner. Michael shook his hand. Steph didn’t want to ever wash it again. Almost every NBA player Steph met asked him, “Can you shoot like your pops?” By the late 1990s, Dell Curry was one of the NBA’s best shooters. He was Sixth Man of the Year in 1993-94 and once shot 47.6 percent from 3-point land. “I’ll never forget it,” says Julie Thompson, Mychal’s wife. “I remember every time Dell shot the ball at the Great Western Forum, our PA announcer, Laurence Tanter, would just go, ‘Dell Curry.’ I mean, I don’t even remember Dell missing a shot.”
New York Liberty head coach Bill Laimbeer joined The Dan Patrick Show on Thursday morning, and he didn’t mince words when the conversation inevitably drifted to the NBA’s inescapable binary question: Jordan or LeBron? “There’s no question I would take LeBron James,” Laimbeer said. “He can do more. Michael Jordan could score and make big shots and look spectacular at times with wild-flying dunks, but LeBron can get you 18 rebounds. LeBron can get you 15 assists if he chooses to, or he can score 50 if he wanted to. “So the triple threat he poses is just phenomenal, and then the size that he’s got — he just physically dominates. It’s impressive.”
When pressed about how many championships Jordan won, Laimbeer didn’t back down. “Yeah, but look at what LeBron has in the Finals right now,” Laimbeer said. “Could anybody else in the world have led this team of role players to the finals right now? I don’t think so. Jordan could not have led this team to the finals. “LeBron came into the league knowing how to play basketball and involve his teammates. Jordan had to learn that, and they had to assemble some great teammates around him in order for him to win.”
A not-bitter-in-the-least Bill Laimbeer made an appearance on the Dan Patrick Show this morning and said that if he had his choice between the two in their primes, he’d take LeBron James over Michael Jordan. “There’s no question I would take LeBron James,” Laimbeer said. “He can do more. Michael Jordan could score and make big shots and look spectacular at times with wild flying dunks, but LeBron can get you 18 rebounds, get you 15 assists or score 50 if he wants to.
So is LeBron comparable to Michael at this stage of his career? “I would say absolutely, absolutely,” Cartwright said. “He’s absolutely on best player on planet right now. I don’t think you’d get much argument on that.”
As always, Cartwright was thoughtful and insightful. “The big thing about LeBron,” he began, “is he’s one of rare guys where there’s no position for him. He similar to maybe Magic [Johnson]. That’s the best comparison because he can play one through five. What can’t he do? “Michael was basically a two-[guard]. What’s LeBron? A one? A two? A three? You can’t say. That’s what makes him an anomaly; there’s no match-up for him. “Michael was as hard as anyone to guard. This guy [LeBron] is really unguardable. Who do you match him with? He’s too darn big and too darn strong. Put a big guy on him and he goes around them. Put a small guy on him and he beats him up. He’s a nightmare of a match-up.”
Michael Jordan’s long-coveted slot as the supreme basketball player in the history of the game is in serious jeopardy of being dropped down a peg. “The only thing that he’s missing is a couple more championships and then it’s a wrap,” Kendrick Perkins told Northeast Ohio Media Group. “Right now we have arguably the best player to ever play the game. I’m just saying man. I’m not taking anything away from Jordan, but all he’s missing is titles. A couple of more titles and that’s it.”
In the meantime, the Hawks have another brutal appointment on Tuesday with havoc, destruction and sheer brute force known as LeBron James, perhaps the best player to step foot on a hardwood floor. “That’s one hell of a debate. Honestly, in my opinion, if it’s not Jordan then it’s him,” J.R. Smith told NEOMG. “It used to be no question. It was a landslide. It was Jordan. Now, you have to consider my boy.”
J.R. Smith drew comparisons to Dennis Rodman this offseason — both from Knicks president Phil Jackson and Rodman himself. Now Smith may have met his version of Michael Jordan. “There are players like LeBron [James] who had great influence on players who have had, let’s say, murky pasts,” said TNT play-by-play man Marv Albert, who is calling the Eastern Conference finals. “Michael Jordan is the same way. When Rodman was brought to Chicago that worked out pretty well, despite some things going on off the court that were a little bit different. On the court he played as hard as anyone in the league. That’s the influence of Michael.
A 3-year old lawsuit between Michael Jordan and Chinese sporting goods retailer Qiaodan has escalated to China’s Supreme Court, according to a report from Reuters. In 2012, Jordan sued Qiaodan Sports, claiming that the Fujian-based manufacturer built its business around his Chinese name and jersey number ’23’ without consent. Since the 80s, he’s been widely known as Qiaodan throughout China. However, earlier this year, a court ruled in favor of Qiaodan over the trademark dispute, which was then upheld by the Beijing Municipal High People’s Court. “In light of the trademark dispute ruling, we intend to appeal to the Supreme People’s Court for retrial,” Jordan’s legal team said in a statement. They added that a separate case with Qiaodan Sports over naming right is still ongoing.
Americans’ respect, reverence, love and outright worship of Michael Jordan might never end. The latest evidence: In a recent survey of 1,471 registered voters conducted from May 7 to May 10, Public Policy Polling found that not only do 77 percent of people find Jordan to be the greatest NBA player of all time, but 34 percent said MJ would beat LeBron James one-on-one … right now. Only 54 percent said LeBron would win the matchup.
To put into context what Butler is tasked with on a nightly basis while trying to guard James, Bulls forward Taj Gibson compared James to arguably the best player of all time. “He’s the Michael Jordan of our generation,” Gibson said of James. “He’s extremely talented, extremely physical, it’s just tough [defending him], man. It’s funny I was just watching the Detroit Pistons documentary [Thursday], about how you just have to go after guys all these years. We’ve been seeing LeBron over and over over the years, and every year we just kept getting better and better. You see how Jimmy was stepping up taking those shots he wasn’t taking last year and it’s big. We need everybody.”