"The thing nobody wants to remember," Reinsdorf said, "…

“The thing nobody wants to remember,” Reinsdorf said, “during lockout, Michael was screwing around with a cigar cutter, and he cut his finger. He couldn’t have played that year. He had to have surgery on the finger, so even if we could’ve brought everybody back, it wouldn’t have made any sense.” Jordan contends that he wouldn’t have been messing around with the cigar cutter (at a golf tournament in January) if Reinsdorf had already secured a commitment from Jackson to come back.

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"The fact is, it's pretty obvious in 1998 that Michael carried this team," he said. "These guys were gassed. He could not have come back because of the cut finger. But even if he could've come back, the other players [Steve Kerr, Luc Longley, Jud Buechler, Dennis Rodman] were going to get offers that were way in excess of what they were worth. "I know in Episode 10, [Jordan] says, 'They all would've come back for one year.' But there's not a chance in the world that Scottie Pippen would've come back on a one-year contract when he knew he could get a much bigger contract someplace else."
“Roy Williams (then a young UNC assistant) told us a great story about how everyone got one chance to play in Carmichael (Auditorium) during the UNC camp week,” Hehir said. “Michael killed everybody. After seeing him play, Dean Smith pulled Roy aside and told him, ‘This kid can’t go to any other camp.’ But Roy insisted that he had to go to Five-Star to see how he would do against Patrick Ewing, Chris Mullin and all these other kids. “I knew that we were going to do an episode on the making of Michael Jordan. Brendon Malone appears with us (in ‘The Last Dance’) primarily as Chuck Daly’s assistant for the Pistons, but back then he was a Syracuse University assistant basketball coach and Michael’s coach at Five-Star. He told us stories about Michael’s will to win as a 16- and 17-year-old.”
“The Last Dance” filmmakers interviewed Dick Neher, Jordan’s Babe Ruth coach and his first coach in organized basketball to get a sense of him as a young athlete. “There’s a lot more than what we showed to Larry (his brother) and Michael’s athletic story,” Hehir said. “There was a story of how Larry once went 3-for-4 in a Little League game and Michael hit the game-winning home run. On the way home, Michael’s dad is praising Larry. He’s saying consistency, ‘That’s what you need. It’s one thing to swing for the fences. That’s fine. But look at Larry. He got three out of four hits.’ And Michael’s like, ‘I won the fucking game!’ (laughs). So there’s little things like that.”
The moment captured Michael Jordan’s superior footwork, his clutch shooting and his flair for the theatrical. But should Jordan’s iconic decisive shot for the Chicago Bulls against the Utah Jazz in Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals have been waived off? After all, Jazz fans often have argued the Bulls’ star pushed off on Bryon Russell. “Everybody says I pushed off — bull----,” Jordan said in the final episode of “The Last Dance. “His energy was going that way. I didn't have to push him that way."
Michael Lee: I spoke to referee Danny Crawford a few years about if MJ pushed off in ‘98 & he said you can’t blow a whistle on “what you thought you saw” in real time. “It wasn’t an egregious play where you thought, ‘Oh, no. You can’t do that.’ It was a tough play that could go either way.”
Apparently, taking a Vegas vacation in the middle of an NBA season is not the craziest thing Rodman did with the Bulls. He also skipped practice in between Games 3 and 4 of the Finals so he could participate a WCW wrestling match in Auburn Hills, Michigan. Practice footage showed Jackson expressing some irritation with Rodman about that episode. To the media, Jackson offered a different reaction when asked if Rodman’s behavior hurts the Bulls’ focus in the Finals.
The moment captured Michael Jordan’s superior footwork, his clutch shooting and his flair for the theatrical. But should Jordan’s iconic decisive shot for the Chicago Bulls against the Utah Jazz in Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals have been waived off? After all, Jazz fans often have argued the Bulls’ star pushed off on Bryon Russell. “Everybody says I pushed off — bull----,” Jordan said in the final episode of “The Last Dance. “His energy was going that way. I didn't have to push him that way."
Michael Lee: I spoke to referee Danny Crawford a few years about if MJ pushed off in ‘98 & he said you can’t blow a whistle on “what you thought you saw” in real time. “It wasn’t an egregious play where you thought, ‘Oh, no. You can’t do that.’ It was a tough play that could go either way.”
Apparently, taking a Vegas vacation in the middle of an NBA season is not the craziest thing Rodman did with the Bulls. He also skipped practice in between Games 3 and 4 of the Finals so he could participate a WCW wrestling match in Auburn Hills, Michigan. Practice footage showed Jackson expressing some irritation with Rodman about that episode. To the media, Jackson offered a different reaction when asked if Rodman’s behavior hurts the Bulls’ focus in the Finals.
Oleh Kosel: Michael Jordan says the Bulls team as comprised after winning in 1998 would have come back and made the money work on short term deals, with Scottie Pippen needing some convincing, to win their 7th championship. Never going to look at 1-year contracts the same again.
Utah was in Chicago to take on the Bulls, and Jordan decided to pay a visit to Malone and John Stockton. While he was there, we learned, young Jazz forward Bryon Russell decided to get chirpy with Jordan. “Pssh, OK, Bryon Russell?” Jordan recalled. “When I was playing baseball, Utah was in town to play the Bulls. They were practicing at the facility, I go over to say hi to John and Karl, and this kid Bryon Russell comes up to me and says, ‘Man why you quittin? Why you quittin? You know I could guard your ass, I couldn’t wait, you had to quit.’ I said, ‘Karl, you need to talk to this dude, man.’ ‘Nah, he’s just a young rookie.’ But from that point on he’s been on my list.”
Larry Bird had Michael Jordan’s number during his playing days — Bird’s Celtics swept Jordan’s Bulls in the first round of the 1986 NBA Playoffs. But it was Jordan who came out on top during Bird’s coaching days. The Bulls beat the Indiana Pacers 4-3 in the 1998 Eastern Conference Finals. Bird was Indiana’s head coach, and after Game 7, Jordan made sure to get some trash talk in. From a postgame conversation featured in Episode 9 of ESPN’s “The Last Dance.” Bird: "You b***h, f**k you." Jordan: "Y'all gave us a run for our money." Bird: "Yeah, I'll see ya." Jordan: "All right, take care. Now you can work on that golf game of yours."
The 1997-98 Pacers came as close as any team did to ending the Bulls dynasty. In the end, they came up short. But it took a classic seven-game series with a series of twists for the Bulls to get through Indianapolis. "Most people feared Michael Jordan and rightfully so," Reggie Miller said on episode 9 of ESPN's The Last Dance on Sunday night. "But I didn't fear him like the rest of the league did."
With just under seven minutes to go and the game in the balance with Indiana leading by three, the Bulls won a jump ball and got it to Steve Kerr for a 3. That helped swing an eventual 88-83 win for the Bulls. "If we win that jump ball and go down and score and go up five, that could be it for them," Miller said in the documentary. "They win the jump ball, it finds the hands of Steve Kerr. … It changed everything.
Scott Agness: . @WSMVTracyKornet , mother of Bulls center Luke Kornet, tells @TheAthleticIND she is NOT the Pacers fan in episode 9. But her phone is blowing up because of the uncanny resemblance.
Rodman went on to pull down 14 rebounds in Game 4 in an 86-82 win over the Utah Jazz to take a 3-1 series lead en route to their sixth championship. He explained his philosophy during that run to “The Last Dance” while pegging why Jackson was the perfect coach for that Bulls team. “I wasn’t trying to do anything,” Rodman said of his wrestling interlude. “I was just trying to explain basketball, party, da da da, f--- all the girls. Just be me, Dennis. S---.
Oleh Kosel: Michael Jordan says the Bulls team as comprised after winning in 1998 would have come back and made the money work on short term deals, with Scottie Pippen needing some convincing, to win their 7th championship. Never going to look at 1-year contracts the same again.
Utah was in Chicago to take on the Bulls, and Jordan decided to pay a visit to Malone and John Stockton. While he was there, we learned, young Jazz forward Bryon Russell decided to get chirpy with Jordan. “Pssh, OK, Bryon Russell?” Jordan recalled. “When I was playing baseball, Utah was in town to play the Bulls. They were practicing at the facility, I go over to say hi to John and Karl, and this kid Bryon Russell comes up to me and says, ‘Man why you quittin? Why you quittin? You know I could guard your ass, I couldn’t wait, you had to quit.’ I said, ‘Karl, you need to talk to this dude, man.’ ‘Nah, he’s just a young rookie.’ But from that point on he’s been on my list.”
Larry Bird had Michael Jordan’s number during his playing days — Bird’s Celtics swept Jordan’s Bulls in the first round of the 1986 NBA Playoffs. But it was Jordan who came out on top during Bird’s coaching days. The Bulls beat the Indiana Pacers 4-3 in the 1998 Eastern Conference Finals. Bird was Indiana’s head coach, and after Game 7, Jordan made sure to get some trash talk in. From a postgame conversation featured in Episode 9 of ESPN’s “The Last Dance.” Bird: "You b***h, f**k you." Jordan: "Y'all gave us a run for our money." Bird: "Yeah, I'll see ya." Jordan: "All right, take care. Now you can work on that golf game of yours."
The 1997-98 Pacers came as close as any team did to ending the Bulls dynasty. In the end, they came up short. But it took a classic seven-game series with a series of twists for the Bulls to get through Indianapolis. "Most people feared Michael Jordan and rightfully so," Reggie Miller said on episode 9 of ESPN's The Last Dance on Sunday night. "But I didn't fear him like the rest of the league did."
With just under seven minutes to go and the game in the balance with Indiana leading by three, the Bulls won a jump ball and got it to Steve Kerr for a 3. That helped swing an eventual 88-83 win for the Bulls. "If we win that jump ball and go down and score and go up five, that could be it for them," Miller said in the documentary. "They win the jump ball, it finds the hands of Steve Kerr. … It changed everything.
Scott Agness: . @WSMVTracyKornet , mother of Bulls center Luke Kornet, tells @TheAthleticIND she is NOT the Pacers fan in episode 9. But her phone is blowing up because of the uncanny resemblance.
Rodman went on to pull down 14 rebounds in Game 4 in an 86-82 win over the Utah Jazz to take a 3-1 series lead en route to their sixth championship. He explained his philosophy during that run to “The Last Dance” while pegging why Jackson was the perfect coach for that Bulls team. “I wasn’t trying to do anything,” Rodman said of his wrestling interlude. “I was just trying to explain basketball, party, da da da, f--- all the girls. Just be me, Dennis. S---.
You were upset about a few comments that Jordan has made in this documentary. You criticized his “cocaine circus” quote since those men now have children and grandchildren who are watching this and it puts those guys in a tough position. What have you thought of the documentary and Jordan’s comments? Craig Hodges: Well, when I look at MJ, he’s a product of his success. Sometimes, that success can be a prison for you. I look at it in a couple lights, man. I feel somewhat empathy for him, to some degree, because of the fact that you are in a prison – in two prisons actually. America was a prison for black people, and now you’ve been incarcerated through capitalism on a whole different level. So it’s cool for the entertainment value of it, but I think it’s been somewhat divisive as far as in line with what we need right now as both the people and the world.
Yeah, 106 people! Did it bother you that you weren’t interviewed? Craig Hodges: Woowww… (laughs) That’s interesting, man. I thank God for waking up this morning and being in a peaceful state of being, knowing where we are historically. When I watch “The Last Dance,” I do it from a critical standpoint as far as having somewhat of an intimate understanding of the locker room and the travel and the workouts and all of the above. But it’s interesting, and you can hear it in my voice that it’s funny to me that I wasn’t interviewed… But, at the same time, it’s not so funny because I understand the impact of the things that I felt we could be doing with our stardom. And a lot of people took that to mean that I was dissing MJ, but that ain’t it at all. I just say, “To whom much is given, much is required.”
Have you gotten an explanation from the filmmakers about why you weren’t interviewed? Craig Hodges: Nah, man. Not at all; they don’t got to talk to little ‘ol me! (laughs) And this is the cold part: When you look at America, when you become a billionaire, you become insulated to a degree. So, hey man, I don’t expect them . If they didn’t want me to be a part of it, they didn’t want to be a part of it. Me not being a part of it, there has to be some reasoning behind it. I would love to know what their reasoning is. But I kind of know what it is from a standpoint that I’ve never not spoken on behalf of people. I’ve never not spoken up about human rights. And it’s not just about black people; it’s about a human-rights condition that we can have an impact on because we were champions at that time in a city like Chicago. During the time that we were winning championships, there were 900 murders , man. Somebody has to speak to that. … In this city, you had two of the brightest stars in the history of African people on the planet Earth – Michael Jordan and Oprah Winfrey – and look at our condition in Chicago. And where are they at now?
Craig Hodges: And that’s the problem with all of the major league sports. All of them are racist to the core, because they are built on racism. The foundation of this country is racism. And don’t nobody want to go to the foundation that we have never received what we were supposed to see reparation wise, so the structure can not go up and be strong because it’s built on weakness. When the Founding Fathers said, “We are all created equal,” my people were getting them tea and crumpets, being slaves. And we never rectified that. So, now we have a slave on TV, represented as an African American. We go from “slave” to “negro” to “nigga” to “African American.” What are ya’ll going to call it? This is ridiculous, man, where we are today. I was taught that you care about people. It’s about people, it ain’t about money.
The highly-watched docuseries “The Last Dance” will head into overtime following Sunday’s finale. ESPN will produce an after-show “After the Dance” that will air on ABC next Tuesday. ESPN commentator and “First Take” star Stephen A. Smith will host the hour-long special, where he’ll be joined by NBA legend Magic Johnson and other surprise guests to discuss their takeaways on the 10-part series. The “SportsCenter” special will air at 8 p.m. The will move the previously-announced “The Story of Soaps” an hour later to 9 p.m., with the series premiere of “The Genetic Detective” is moving back a week to May 26.
Aaron Watkins hopped on a bus with his bag and his Mount Caramel breakaway pants. (As if the video itself, complete with the Logo Athletic splash Cowboys hat, wasn’t ’90s enough.) The gym was packed. Father and son watched Jordan take part in a couple of scrimmages before it got late and they reluctantly decided they would head home. “I was the only kid in there, and Mike just yelled and said: ‘Hey kid, you don’t wanna run with me?’” Watkins said. “And immediately, I mean before my dad could even turn around, I ripped off my tearaway pants and I was ready to check into the game.”
Chapters of Dennis Rodman’s story have been retold over the last month thanks to ESPN’s “The Last Dance,” a 10-episode documentary that focuses on Michael Jordan’s last season with the Bulls in 1997-98. The final two episodes will air Sunday night. Rodman was the star of Episode 3, but his time sporting blue and gold at Southeastern Oklahoma State University was only chronicled by a few seconds of grainy footage. How Rodman arrived in Durant, Oklahoma, is what Reisman can only describe as a “fairy-tale story.”
As an assistant basketball coach at Southeastern from 1981-87, Reisman regularly recruited in Dallas — just a 90-minute drive but a world away down U.S. 75. That’s why he was so confused when he first saw Rodman practice at Cooke County College (now North Central Texas College) in Gainesville. Reisman, upon inquiring, was told Rodman attended South Oak Cliff High School in Dallas. “I'm going back through my notes and I couldn't find his name,” Reisman said.
Rodman was a three-time NAIA All-American at Southeastern from 1983-86. He averaged 25.7 points and 15.7 rebounds per game. Rodman still holds the school’s career rebounding record by a margin of 477. “Dennis came along, and superhuman is about the only way I can explain this guy’s ability,” said Kenny Chaffin, a forward at Southeastern from 1982-86. “He could just do some things that were not explainable. I mean, that’s why the crowds came.”
Rodman secured a rebound and passed the ball to Stephens, who stood at the top of the key. Stephens took two dribbles and launched the ball toward the rim. "What in the hell are you doing?” Reisman thought to himself. Rodman emerged from nowhere, caught the ball and threw down a 180-degree dunk. “He goes back down the floor and gets a standing ovation from their crowd,” Reisman said. “That's how fast that guy was. Hell, I even got up. I'd never seen anything like it.” “Philip and Worm just had this unspoken language,” Chaffin said.
While it's no surprise that viewers are gaining a new understanding of Jordan and the Bulls, you may be surprised that his daughter is as well. In a recent interview with the Associated Press, Jasmine Jordan explained what the experience has been like for her. Just a young kid during Jordan's playing days, she said she's been texting him non-stop to talk about the episodes, and admitted she's basically watching like a fan, rather than a family member.
Jasmine Jordan: I'm harassing him. He's probably tired of me texting him. I think my brothers and I are doing it, probably alongside all his friends. But for me, it's like, hey, as I said, I was super young so I'm really taking this in as a fan. And I'm also trying to corroborate all those stories you were telling me all those years. Trying to make sure you weren't just fabricating and making it bigger than what it was. I'm definitely texting him nonstop. I think there hasn't been an episode, a Sunday where I haven't been like, 'This happened-let me know your thoughts.'”
Jasmine also talked about what Jordan is like as a father and a grandfather to her son. While she revealed that these days her son "has him wrapped around his fingers already," she also said his competitiveness carried off the court as well when she was growing up. "I know when it comes to the game, his passion is unmatched. His energy's unmatched. So when he's going at Steve Kerr or checking Scottie and trying to get that fire and tenacity out of them, I'm like, 'Oh, yeah, that's Dad.' I mean, he'll do that to me just so I can get an A out of a test or two. (laughs) And I'm just trying to pass school, I'm not even winning championships. So that is definitely totally him."
ABC and ESPN are taking The Last Dance to overtime. The broadcast network will air an hour-long special called After the Dance With Stephen A. Smith: A SportsCenter Special at 8 p.m. May 19, two days after the conclusion of ESPN's breakout docuseries about Michael Jordan's last year with the Chicago Bulls. Smith and basketball legend Magic Johnson will discuss their biggest takeaways from The Last Dance and be joined by other NBA greats as well.
Detlef Schrempf, the Sonics’ starting small forward at the time, called that series with the Jazz a “bloodbath” while reminiscing with 710 ESPN Seattle’s John Clayton on Thursday morning. And when the dust settled, he and his teammates looked up, all of the sudden in Chicago set to face a record-setting Bulls team led by Michael Jordan.
“I had forgot that the Bulls went 72-10 that year because we had a really good year,” said Schrempf, who like many has been watching ESPN’s “The Last Dance” documentary, including last Sunday’s episode that profiled Seattle’s 1996 NBA Finals trip. “I didn’t realize we were such an underdog.”
One of the more memorable clips shown in that episode of the documentary is from the NBA on NBC pregame broadcast before Game 1 where Bob Costas said many were calling it the “biggest mismatch in NBA Finals history.” And that’s even though the Bulls had just eight more wins in the regular season than the Sonics and Seattle had even split the season series between the two teams 1-1. “Back then we just played,” said Schrempf, noting that the Sonics had short rest between their Game 7 win over the Jazz and Game 1 vs. the Bulls, who had been waiting at home after sweeping the Orlando Magic. “Now they’re saying, oh, people were saying we were gonna get swept – I forgot about that.”
Not so fast on crediting Jordan with the league’s ascension, according to former Houston Rockets coach Kevin McHale, who was speaking with ESPN 97.5 The Game after the first four episodes of The Last Dance. McHale had the below to say: “No Michael didn’t build this league, because I was in the league before it was built. Magic Johnson and Larry Bird built this league, along with David Stern. David Stern had an unbelievable vision for this league.”
Craig Hodges: When we point out other people's flaws I think we need to look at ourselves in the mirror and you know, the first session when he talked about the cocaine circus, how many people who are teammates appears that was on that, on that poster? How many of them have to make explanations of whether they are part of it. So it's all part of life but I just wonder, what was the reasoning for this and some of the comments that he's made at this point in his life and with the billions of dollars that he has, what do you have to gain from throwing Scotty under the bus.
“All in all, it’s (‘The Last Dance’) been cool for the general population, entertainment value and something to do while we’re on this lockdown,” Hodges told Rahimi at the outset. “But from the personal side of it, some of the things have been somewhat touching some sore spots, and when I say sore spots I’m just saying as a teammate, as a friend, you know, some of the people that have been hurt by some of the statements MJ has made.”
“To single Horace out for that, to look at the climate that was going on during the time,” Hodges said, “Who knows the conversations that was happening between Sam (Smith) and MJ that MJ thought was off-the-cuff, and he was writing them down? So, there’s a lot of things to me that are left unsaid that need to be explained, and so if you’re going to point someone out, point them out with facts as opposed to it being innuendo. “It’s ugly for what we did as a unit and what we accomplished as a team.”
I asked “The Last Dance” director Jason Hehir about Burns’s comments and here is what he said: “I have the highest admiration for Ken Burns. He has been a hero of mine since I was a kid. His body of work is extraordinary. He called me a couple of days ago. Word had gotten back to him that the comments he made to The Wall Street Journal kind of had taken on a life of their own, so he called me to explain the context in which he said what he said. It was really gracious and really classy. This guy is one of the reasons I got into filmmaking, particularly that baseball series in 1994. I vividly remember watching that as a freshman in college. He did say that he looked forward to seeing it. He’s working on seven documentaries of his own right now and taking care of his kids and going through the pandemic like we all are. He said, ‘If anyone knows the feeling of asking someone to put 10 hours aside to watch their work, it’s me. So I will find 500 minutes to watch this.’ It was great to hear from him.
“He (Burns) expressed that his world is a PBS world and they have underwriters and if any of those underwriters are even remotely affiliated with the subject, they’re not allowed to be associated with the project. So those rules that are put in place by PBS are very stringent. Obviously, with this project, we weren’t under the same parameters, We are not working in the same parameters. It should be noted that it’s not Michael’s production company. Michael didn’t have a production company. The Jordan brand — meaning Curtis Polk (who manages the financial and business affairs of Jordan and is an executive with the Hornets) and Estee Portnoy (Jordan’s longtime business manager) — gave notes just like ESPN and Netflix and the NBA gave notes. But those were not final cut notes. With a league such as the NBA or MLB or NFL or NHL, if that is inherently not journalistic if they have editorial input, then sports documentaries would cease to exist. Because you have to license the footage through these entities, so they own it. Of course, they get a say in it. We made it very clear early on in this process that we wanted to tell a comprehensive story. No one was interested in this being a puff piece. Most of all, the Jordan brand and the NBA.
I asked “The Last Dance” director Jason Hehir about Burns’s comments and here is what he said: “I have the highest admiration for Ken Burns. He has been a hero of mine since I was a kid. His body of work is extraordinary. He called me a couple of days ago. Word had gotten back to him that the comments he made to The Wall Street Journal kind of had taken on a life of their own, so he called me to explain the context in which he said what he said. It was really gracious and really classy. This guy is one of the reasons I got into filmmaking, particularly that baseball series in 1994. I vividly remember watching that as a freshman in college. He did say that he looked forward to seeing it. He’s working on seven documentaries of his own right now and taking care of his kids and going through the pandemic like we all are. He said, ‘If anyone knows the feeling of asking someone to put 10 hours aside to watch their work, it’s me. So I will find 500 minutes to watch this.’ It was great to hear from him.
“He (Burns) expressed that his world is a PBS world and they have underwriters and if any of those underwriters are even remotely affiliated with the subject, they’re not allowed to be associated with the project. So those rules that are put in place by PBS are very stringent. Obviously, with this project, we weren’t under the same parameters, We are not working in the same parameters. It should be noted that it’s not Michael’s production company. Michael didn’t have a production company. The Jordan brand — meaning Curtis Polk (who manages the financial and business affairs of Jordan and is an executive with the Hornets) and Estee Portnoy (Jordan’s longtime business manager) — gave notes just like ESPN and Netflix and the NBA gave notes. But those were not final cut notes. With a league such as the NBA or MLB or NFL or NHL, if that is inherently not journalistic if they have editorial input, then sports documentaries would cease to exist. Because you have to license the footage through these entities, so they own it. Of course, they get a say in it. We made it very clear early on in this process that we wanted to tell a comprehensive story. No one was interested in this being a puff piece. Most of all, the Jordan brand and the NBA.
The portion of ESPN’s “The Last Dance” that focuses on Michael Jordan’s time away from the NBA in 1994 makes clear that he is still upset about a Sports Illustrated cover story that mocked his initial foray into professional baseball. Jordan is famous for nursing grudges and grievances over the years, but he is not the only one looking back with unhappiness on his treatment by the magazine. As it turns out, so is the writer of that widely noted story. “I think he was rightly insulted,” former Sports Illustrated writer Steve Wulf recently told ESPN.
In an ESPN podcast released Wednesday, Wulf said that while the tone of his story was “a little snarky, and very skeptical,” the cover — over which he had no control — was out of line. “I still cringe every time I see it,” he claimed, adding, “I wish they had run the headline by me.” “Definitely,” he replies, just after the documentary notes that he severed communications with the magazine after that issue hit newsstands.
As for Jordan’s continued ire at Sports Illustrated, Wulf said, “I think he’s perfectly within his rights to maintain that stance. The headline was over the top. And I know SI thought, ‘Well, we put him on the cover so many times. What’s the big deal about this?’ Well, you know what, we disrespected him.”
The common misconception surrounding Jordan is that he hit the gym after losing to the Pistons, bulked up and started winning. That’s not exactly how it worked. Grover earned Jordan’s trust because the initial strategy wasn’t about simply building up muscle mass, but rather addressing past problem areas –such as his ankle and groin – to give him a base for more explosiveness and speed. From there, Jordan would slowly reach his desired weight, which for Jordan, Grover said, got up to between 213 pounds and 218 pounds.
“You hear all of these athletes, ‘Yeah, they put on 15 pounds or 20 pounds during the offseason.’ Do you know how hard it is to put on 15 pounds of muscle? It’s almost physically impossible. Unless,” Grover said, laughing to himself, “you’re getting some help from an outside source. Plus, when you have an athlete, his game is so refined like Michael, you want him to gradually put on weight and gradually put on strength and let their body acclimate to what they’re doing. So what I did with him, every year or every season, we would put on five pounds. And I would say, ‘How do you feel after five pounds?’ And he would say, ‘I feel good.’ All right, so let’s go a little bit more.”
“With basketball, you could see how he played. You had film from college. You had games from his early career in the NBA, so you could see how he likes to plant. This is how he pushes off, this is how he lunges, this is how he does something,” Grover said. “With baseball, there was no record of it. So every time they made adjustments, I had to make adjustments and he made the adjustment… It was a huge challenge. And everyone knows Michael, that’s what fuels him.”
Ewing joined Rachel Nichols on "The Jump" on Monday to discuss "The Last Dance" and revealed he's still hearing about how MJ always beat him when it mattered most. "He's been talking trash from the first day that I met him and he still continues to talk trash, telling me that I have never beat him when it counts," Ewing said on "The Jump."
Let’s talk about that. Before “The Last Dance” came out, Michael Jordan told director Jason Hehir: “When people see the footage of , they’re going to think that I’m a horrible guy.” He pushed you really hard that year. What was it like dealing with that? Scott Burrell: It was like getting taught; getting taught in a tough way. I didn’t think it was embarrassing, I didn’t think it was humiliating. I don’t have any regrets of how it went down or any second thoughts about learning from the best. I mean, I was getting tutelage from the best player to ever play, from the best team ever put together! And it was a team that won five out of seven championships before I got there, and I didn’t want to mess it up! So, I was glad to learn any way possible that was taught to me.
Jordan has explained that he was trying to toughen you up and prepare you for a grueling postseason. Do you think his way of doing things made you tougher and more prepared? Scott Burrell: I think it prepared me for life, not just basketball. I had played with some very good teams in the past and with very good players, but it’s totally different when you play for a great player and great coaches, and you’re playing for the same goal – winning a championship. It’s totally different when that level is turned up another 100 degrees and you’re in the midst of it.
There are stories of Jordan getting physical with some of his teammates like Steve Kerr and Will Perdue. I have to ask: Was this “riding” just verbal? Or was it ever physical? Scott Burrell: No, it was never physical. Jordan is smaller than me, he wouldn’t mess with me. (laughs) I’m just joking; I’m just teasing. (laughs) That was a strong man for his size, just saying. But, no, it was always verbal. It was never physical. That’s why when people say, “Are you worried about what people will think?” or, “Are you worried about how people are gonna take it?” I’m like, “No!” It was never physical, and it was all to make me better and prepare me for the season later on. So, I don’t think it’s anything that I have to worry about.
In a recent interview, you said that you recently texted Michael and told him, “Thanks for getting me 1,000 interviews.” I thought that was funny. How much attention have you been getting since this documentary started airing? Scott Burrell: It’s huge! This is my second interview today and I have two more after this. But it’s getting to the point where people are trying to catch Michael now, which is sad. Like, “Was he mentally tormenting people?” or, “Was he abusive?” No! He was a tough competitor, a coach. He wanted to win, he wanted us to get better and he wanted to prepare us to be great when it was our time to be called on. That’s it. I just don’t understand how you can watch this film and try to portray him as a person that goes too hard at people when he’s never done anything to get in trouble and he’s never been involved in scandals. He just did nothing but win championships and he has one of the best companies in the world right now. Just let him be Michael, the way he did it.
What was it like playing with Dennis Rodman? Scott Burrell: Dennis was an awesome teammate. He never spoke. He came into work and worked his butt off. He would miss practice once a week or once every couple of weeks, but , he came focused to win. (laughs) He watched so much film. I learned a lot from Dennis. Dennis is a little bit older than me. Dennis worked out, did cardio every day and lifted weights every day before games. He was in great, great physical shape. A competitor and he knew the game – he had a high IQ for the game, offensively and defensively. And he dominated the game without even trying to score, which is amazing. In this day and age, scoring is everything. That’s how you get $20 million a year, if you make a couple jump shots. But Dennis dominated the game playing great defense. He was a great passer, knew when to score and when not to score. He just brought big-time energy and was fun to play with.
During his time with the Washington Bullets, Krause found Earl Monroe at Division II Winston-Salem State and Jerry Sloan at Division II Evansville. That Krause found Monroe is considered his origin story, but Jordan didn’t buy it—after all, the Bullets took Monroe second in 1967, and MJ thought a player drafted second couldn’t really be a secret. If Krause didn’t scout Monroe, “someone would have found him at no. 3 or no. 4,” Jordan said. Krause’s passion for small-school talent was evident in his first year as Bulls GM, as he took Charles Oakley out of Division II Virginia Union with the ninth pick in the 1985 draft.
Roland Lazenby: But I held no delusion that I would be interviewed for this docu-series 22 years later or that any of the original interview footage with me would actually make the show. Yet it was also obvious that my work (along with the fine work of so many people covering the Bulls back then) had heavily influenced the production. That’s why it has been so nice and generous for Jason Hehir, the director, to take the time to publicly acknowledge my work. That can’t have pleased MJ. But the great success of Hehir’s work, beyond all of the narrative story-telling, has been his effort to encourage Jordan and his people toward a frank telling of his own story. After all, let’s be clear. This is MJ’s life, his story. It is he who has made all of this possible.
Roland Lazenby: One person who is not a fan of it is Michael himself. He has been cordial enough in and around it. When I decided to do the project, I went to him immediately and told him about it. He spoke briefly to me but I could sense that he was leery. When the book came out, the PR staff of his Charlotte Hornets treated me extremely well. In fact, I’ve always been kind of a secondary, almost unimportant, figure working around NBA teams, often occupying remote press seats (but having the same interview access as other representatives of large media corporations). So I was taken aback after the book came out when the Hornets PR staff assigned me preferred seating at a home game and afterward Jordan awkwardly shook my hand. Since then, however, Jordan’s top assistant has made it clear just how displeased MJ was with me.
Roland Lazenby: But I held no delusion that I would be interviewed for this docu-series 22 years later or that any of the original interview footage with me would actually make the show. Yet it was also obvious that my work (along with the fine work of so many people covering the Bulls back then) had heavily influenced the production. That’s why it has been so nice and generous for Jason Hehir, the director, to take the time to publicly acknowledge my work. That can’t have pleased MJ.
Michael Jordan may have seemed like a teammate from hell ... but ex-Bulls player Scott Burrell says he welcomed MJ's tough antics ... telling TMZ Sports he LOVED the way #23 motivated him. Previously unreleased footage of the '98 Bulls season aired on ESPN's "The Last Dance" doc Sunday ... showing Jordan cussing at, mocking and being extra hard on certain players during practice. Burrell -- who was on the receiving end of a lot of Jordan's harsh actions -- says it wasn't as bad as it looked ... 'cause he WANTED His Airness to prep him to be a contributing player on a championship team.
Will Perdue: As far as M.J.'s dad, he was the nicest person. You'd be so surprised ... his dad was always around the practice facility. As soon as practice was over, Michael would be gone, but his dad would drive separately, and his dad would stay behind and hang out with us. I remember numerous occasions when we were at the Berto Center, the practice facility, him and I would just sit down and have conversations about anything and everything. If you were there shooting late, he might come out and rebound for you, he might come out and just start talking to you when you're shooting free throws, walk with you as you walk off of the floor. He might come in the locker room, he had the run of the joint. He was so genuine, he was such a gentlemen. Quite honestly, a lot of the players had stronger and better relationships with him than they had with Michael, and a lot of it was that he made himself more available than Michael did."
Episodes 7 and 8 of The Last Dance averaged 5.1 million viewers across ESPN and ESPN2 on Sunday night, with episode 7 averaging 5.3 million viewers, and episode 8 averaging 4.9 million viewers. Overall, the docuseries — focusing on the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls, and especially Michael Jordan — has averaged 5.6 million viewers across its eight premiere episodes.
Terrence Ross: @hoopshype Everything he did, from playing sports, his work ethic, “bullying” teammates, creating fake scenarios in his head, him talking about gambling. I just never seen anyone who takes everything to that kind of level. The feeling of losing to him, seem unbearable
Patrick Ewing had insisted that he wouldn’t watch "The Last Dance," having been through it. But while making the rounds of television and radio appearances Monday, he admitted that he did turn it on, reliving some of the moments that were hard to take in his career. “I watched a little bit last night,” Ewing said on NBCSN. “It’s hard because I lived through it and a lot of the stories they are talking about, I have already known. It’s great . . . Michael Jordan was and is a great player -- one of the best things to happen to the NBA.”
CBS 2’s Ryan Baker spoke with Jordan’s sons Jeffrey and Marcus and daughter Jasmine about the documentary, their world-famous dad and childhood. Even though Jeffrey is in Portland, Marcus is in Orlando and Jasmine is in Charlotte, they all said Chicago is still their home. For Jeffrey, Jordan’s oldest son, he said it’s been awesome to relive some of the moments from a new perspective. Marcus agreed. “Not only is it great for young kids who never got to see my dad play, it’s also good for those that did follow along, but didn’t really understand what was going on behind the scenes,” Marcus said.
Richard Deitsch: ESPN says #TheLastDance has averaged 5.6 million viewers across premieres of its first eight episodes. Episodes 7 and 8 averaged 5.1M viewers. Accounting for all airings within ESPN universe: Episode 2 is most-watched at 13.9 million viewers.
Has ‘The Last Dance’ become a communal viewing experience? JOHN DAHL: Without a doubt. It’s been amazing to see how this is unfolded as a cultural event. Our director, Jason Hehir, just did a phenomenal job. It’s been blowing my mind. There are stories about stories in each episode. That’s what’s been extraordinary to see. The conversation just keeps going from week to week.
ESPN capitalized on hunger for sports content during pandemic by moving up its premiere date. But didn’t that cause pressure behind the scenes? John Dahl: The production wasn’t done. The last couple of episodes weren’t done – and we were making the commitment to move this up by six weeks. We had to find a cadence that made sense. I drew up over a dozen scenarios when [ESPN Executive Vice President of Content] Connor Schell asked me to start exploring what was possible.
What do you think of criticism from Ken Burns that this is not “good journalism” since Michael has ultimate editorial control? JD: I don’t think it’s a fair criticism. When Ken made the comments, he had not seen any of the series. I don’t know if he’s seen any episodes since. But he had not seen it then. The thing you have to understand is Michael always had control over the 1997/98 footage. It wasn’t going to happen unless he said, ‘OK, I’m going to let this happen, let’s do it.’ That’s just the rights he was granted back in 1997/98. I can just tell you that Michael has never prevented anything from being in the film. He never said, ‘Don’t put this in.’ He’s not doing that. Jason has been able to put in pretty much what he wants to put in. I think it’s been a very successful venture.
George Karl didn’t want to give Michael Jordan any added fuel. But by avoiding him at a Chicago restaurant prior to the 1996 NBA Finals, he did anyway, as “The Last Dance” documentary revealed Sunday night. “He walks right past me,” Jordan said in the show. “And I look at Ahmad [Rashad] and I said, ‘Really? Oh, so that’s how you’re gonna play it?’”
“It is true. I had Brendan Malone on my staff from the Detroit Pistons, and he said, ‘Michael plays head games with you all the time,’ and he said ‘you don’t want to mess with him in the series,” Karl said. “Say hello at the beginning of the series, shake his hand at the end of the series, but during the series don’t let him use anything to motivate himself to be a better player than the greatest player in NBA basketball.”
Michael Lee: MJ showed up to a game with a bat & a pre-game victory cigar, then dropped this verse from the Book of Jordan: 23:16. "That's a sign of a good man if he can talk sh*t when it's even score, or talk sh*t when you behind score. When you're ahead, it's easy to talk."

http://twitter.com/MrMichaelLee/status/1259835694329053187
Look, this guy was the clubhouse attendant as a college freshman, hanging on through a work/study program to a nowhere school walk-on athletic scholarship. It did appear Pippen was going to be an early one-and-done. You know, one year of college and done and on the way to the factory. It couldn't have been more Pippen Sunday in the documentary to say of the infamous 1.8 moment, "It was one of those incidents where I wish it never happened…" Now wait for the sine qua non that is so Scottie Pippen… "But if I had a chance to do it over again I probably wouldn't change it."
Michael Jordan summed up his entire ethos with one phrase late in Episode 7: "Winning has a price." Jordan punched multiple teammates in practice. When several were asked on camera if he was a nice guy, they either hemmed and hawed or simply said, "No." But to Jordan, none of that mattered. What mattered was the end result. And, to him, there was only one acceptable result: winning.
Storyline: Michael Jordan Documentary
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September 26, 2021 | 6:15 am EDT Update

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: "There’s no room for players who do not want to get vaccinated"

“The NBA should insist that all players and staff are vaccinated or remove them from the team,” NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar tells Rolling Stone. “There is no room for players who are willing to risk the health and lives of their teammates, the staff and the fans simply because they are unable to grasp the seriousness of the situation or do the necessary research. What I find especially disingenuous about the vaccine deniers is their arrogance at disbelieving immunology and other medical experts. Yet, if their child was sick or they themselves needed emergency medical treatment, how quickly would they do exactly what those same experts told them to do?”
This rumor is part of a storyline: 287 more rumors

Kyrie Irving following and liking conspiracy theories about COVID-19 vaccines

Irving, who serves as a vice president on the executive committee of the players’ union, recently started following and liking Instagram posts from a conspiracy theorist who claims that “secret societies” are implanting vaccines in a plot to connect Black people to a master computer for “a plan of Satan.” This Moderna microchip misinformation campaign has spread across multiple NBA locker rooms and group chats, according to several of the dozen-plus current players, Hall-of-Famers, league executives, arena workers and virologists interviewed for this story over the past week.
“There are so many other players outside of him who are opting out, I would like to think they would make a way,” says Kyrie’s aunt, Tyki Irving, who runs the seven-time All-Star’s family foundation and is one of the few people in his regular circle of advisors. “It could be like every third game. So it still gives you a full season of being interactive and being on the court, but with the limitations that they’re, of course, oppressing upon you. There can be some sort of formula where the NBA and the players can come to some sort of agreement.”
Storyline: Coronavirus Vaccine

At least 50 NBA players yet to receive a single COVID-19 vaccine dose?

A spokeswoman for Irving declined to respond to a list of questions regarding his vaccination and playing status, and Irving did not immediately respond to a message from Rolling Stone. But as teams return to pre-season training camps next week, fifty to sixty NBA players have yet to receive a single vaccine dose, league sources tell RS. Most are considered merely reluctant skeptics. Some of the holdouts, however, amount to their own shadow roster of anti-vaxxers mounting a behind-the-scenes resistance to Covid protocols — and the truth.
Isaac considers un-vaxxed players to be vilified and bullied, and he thinks “it’s an injustice” to automatically make heroes out of vaccinated celebrities. He rejects the NBA’s proposal for a vaccine mandate and social distancing for players like him during team travel: “You can play on the same court. We can touch the same ball. We can bump chests. We can do all those things on the court. And then when it comes to being on the bus, we have to be in different parts of the bus? To me, it doesn’t seem logically consistent. “If you are vaccinated, in other places you still have to wear the mask regardless. It’s like, ‘OK, then what is the mask necessarily for?’” Isaac continues. “And if Kyrie says that from his position of his executive power in the NBPA, then kudos to him.”
Enes Kanter — the veteran center, devout Muslim and outspoken liberal — senses a creep of the religious right upon his workplace, which just happens to involve players like Isaac sweating all over him and yelling in his face: “If a guy’s not getting vaccinated because of his religion, I feel like we are in a time where the religion and science has to go to together,” he tells RS. “I’ve talked to a lot of religious guys — I’m like: ‘It saves people’s lives, so what is more important than that?’”
Storyline: Coronavirus Vaccine
In their sit-down interview back in August, Durant and Green rehashed the incident and how it ultimately affected KD’s decision to leave the Warriors. Surprisingly, KD claimed it wasn’t the beef itself that pushed him away, but the way Steve Kerr, Bob Myers and the front office handled things. “It wasn’t the argument,” the former Warriors star said. “It was the way that everybody … Steve Kerr acted like it didn’t happen. Bob Myers tried to just discipline you and think that would put a mask over everything. I really felt that was such a big situation for us as a group, the first time we went through something like that. We had to get that s— all out.”