Storyline: Michael Jordan Documentary

485 rumors in this storyline

Part of VICE TV’s VICE VERSA series of documentary specials, One Man and His Shoes essentially serves as an expanded version of what Episode 5 (and to some extent, Episode 1) of The Last Dance touched on: The cultural phenomenon of Nike’s Air Jordan shoe line. Director Yemi Bamiro doesn’t have to tell a larger narrative (though his film eventually goes there), so he can zoom in on this aspect of Jordan’s story.

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Hearing Chicago Bulls star Michael Jordan in “The Last Dance”, crying on the locker room floor following his Father’s Day championship in 1996 — MJ’s first title since his dad, James, was murdered — caused Harris himself to become emotional. “I ain’t going to lie, I was shedding a tear when I saw Jordan crying,” Harris told Yahoo Sports in a recent telephone interview. “I thought they should’ve just stopped the episode right then and there. It was touching. I’d seen the photo a whole lot, but I was probably too young to understand. And now you can really see all the emotion that’s in it. I did some research after the show ended. You hear about his father passing away, but then you dive in and it’s a pretty crazy story.”

Harris, a Long Island native, was fortunate enough to see Jordan play at Madison Square Garden when he was a kid alongside his father, longtime NBA agent Torrel Harris — founder and CEO of Unique Sports Management — and his older brother, Tyler Harris. It proved to be a memorable evening. “We kept asking my dad if we could meet him after the game and he was just telling us maybe,” Tobias recalled. “But it ended up happening and it was unbelievable. As we were walking away I realized I didn’t get him to sign my card. So my dad had to pull him back and get him to sign our cards. Tyler and I were so excited on the train ride back. I kept thinking my dad was so cool because he knows Michael Jordan. I ended up losing the card on the way back, but it didn’t matter because I had gotten to meet him. It was an unforgettable experience.”

While most of the responses have been incredibly positive, Michael’s 27-year-old daughter, Jasmine Jordan, exclusively tells ET that her dad “hasn’t paid any attention” to what people are saying about it on social media, including “all the new memes/gifs being created.” In addition to Jasmine, Michael shares two sons, Jeffrey, 31, and Marcus, 29, with ex-wife Juanita Vanoy, and 6-year-old twins Victoria and Isabel with Yvette Prieto, whom he married in 2013.

One person that was noticeably absent from the 10-part docuseries was Jasmine’s mother, Juanita. Jasmine tells ET that her mom was not in it “simply because she already lived it, of course.” “The doc’s focus was on the team as a whole and their last season,” she said, referencing her dad’s sixth NBA championship with the Bulls in 1998. “My dad is a major focal point, obviously, but it still was about the team as a whole in their final run together, so that’s why she wasn’t in it.”

You know, there weren’t major things, but it was like… when a TV movie comes on, and they say, ‘This is based on a true story.’ That’s what that was. It was based on a true story. There were all of the outlines of what happened, but a lot of the detail… like the pizza thing, the poison, that was complete nonsense. There were a couple of other things like that I won’t go into. They weren’t major, but the thing at the end was a complete, blatant lie.”

Smith also went into more detail about Jordan’s comments on wanting to return for a seventh title (around the 10:40 mark of the Dan Patrick interview). He didn’t want to play that next year. He could’ve, in any number of ways. So he made that up too at the end. That ‘I wish I could’ve come back.’ ‘I wanted to come back.’ He didn’t want to come back. … If he wanted that one year and the $40 million, he could’ve gotten it. He just didn’t want to play. I mean, we saw it with Ahmad (Rashad) in all those scenes. ‘Hey, I’ve had enough. I’m outta here. I gotta move on.’

Success of ‘The Last Dance’ may be enough to fuel ESPN in the absence of live sports. The Michael Jordan docuseries is now the network’s most-watched documentary and the positive numbers have led ESPN to move up the release dates of three other ‘30 for 30’ documentaries. The network has also ordered a nine-part series on Tom Brady that will air next year. ‘The Last Dance’ By The Numbers Averaged 5.6 million U.S. viewers across the 10 episodes. 23.8 million households have watched it outside the U.S. Ranks as 10 of the 11 most-watched telecasts among the key 18-34 demo since mid-March. No. 1 trending topic on Twitter for five straight Sundays. More social conversation on a per-episode basis than any TV series this year.


The Houston Rockets guard told CNBC Wednesday that he’s halfway through ESPN’s documentary “The Last Dance,” which details the last championship run of the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls during the 1997-98 season. Harden said he’s slowly dissecting the documentary, analyzing Jordan’s competitiveness as he awaits the NBA’s return. “I just can’t watch it to watch it,” Harden said. “I want to see the ins and out and everything because at the end of the day, I am a competitor and I want to see what those dudes were going through.”

Here’s what Gary Payton had to say about Jordan dismissing him on “The Opinionated 7-footers” podcast with Ryan Hollins and Brendan Haywood (via Andrew Joseph of For The Win): “Oh you know I was hot. I was thinking about calling him at the time. … But you know what, that’s what I expect out of Mike because I would’ve said the same thing. I would’ve said the same thing. You know me, B. I’m not gonna admit to nothing, man. I’m not gonna admit to somebody that D’d me up or did nothing. I’ll always tell you that any time in my career, nobody gave me problems but one person, and that’s John Stockton to me. That is just the way the game goes. I’m not mad at Mike because Mike didn’t have too many games that nobody D’d him up.”

Netflix says overseas hoops fans flocked in huge numbers to “The Last Dance,” the documentary series about Michael Jordan and the ’90s Chicago Bulls team, which has been a ratings smash in the U.S. for ESPN. Netflix tweeted the numbers Wednesday, claiming that 23.8 million households outside the U.S. checked out “The Last Dance” in its first four weeks on the service. “23 was always his lucky number!” the streamer said, referencing Jordan’s jersey number. But some big caveats are in order — Netflix’s selectively reported viewing figures aren’t comparable to TV ratings. The streamer bases its publicly reported audience metrics based on how many member accounts watched a given show or movie for a minimum of just 2 minutes — an in-house calculation the company claims is a better reflection of popularity than average time spent viewing, which is how the television world measures viewership.

Hodges: “I’m still kind of upset about it because I know the type of brother that Scottie is. Scottie is the type of brother, I wasn’t part of the team when he didn’t stand up and come back out and play during that play, but I know that Scottie is the type of cat that will give his shirt for you, go on the ground for you and kick out the shot for you. I didn’t like how he was portrayed and I don’t understand the reasoning behind it and I’m still trying to figure that out. Without Scottie, MJ would not have won. It’s like all the brothers sitting here. It’s almost like MJ won in a vacuum and it wasn’t anything like that. To throw your brother, especially no. 33, under the bus, that wasn’t cool.”

Cartwright: “It’s interesting that when the play when Pip did not come back in the game, that was Pip’s best year. He had evolved into a leadership role, played great. To me, people make mistakes and then you move on from them. I think Scottie has a big heart. And when I first got to the Bulls he wasn’t a great shooter, skinny, extraordinarily talented, so everything he had he worked for. For me Pip was a great teammate and like I said it was one man’s show and that’s what they saw. But that’s not really reality.”

Grant: “It was straight up b——-. It was straight-up b——- how they portrayed Scottie. First off, being the No. 2 on that team and how he came out in terms of against Utah could barely walk, setting screens, getting knocked on the floor, the whole nine yards, and for them, that documentary, to call him…well, MJ called him selfish, that’s some BS. That’s straight up BS. If it wasn’t for Scottie Pippen there would be no six championships. I’m telling you right now guys. The first championship I think MJ got in foul trouble against the Lakers and who came to the rescue? No. 33. Scottie Pippen. Scottie Pippen. Yes, he made a mistake. We addressed that after the game. And then it was over with and we took the Knicks to seven games. My question is: How in the hell did that get on this documentary when MJ’s ass wasn’t even on the team?”

Grant: “I wasn’t there for the second three-peat but I knew some of the guys on that team and I know damn well if you’re going to call Horace and a few other guys bitches and hoes, they weren’t going to stand for that. I’m pretty sure they edited that out of the documentary . In saying that, let me clear something up about this food thing, that he tried to take my food: Listen to me, where’s the camera, I would have beat his ass, guys. He can say what he wants to. I’m going to say what I have to say. You come back and try to take my food, I would have whooped his ass. There wouldn’t be no Air Jordans now. There wouldn’t be no six championships I can guarantee you that.”

Hodges: “It wasn’t him. I said that before and I will say it now. It wasn’t him.” Grant: “Let me tell you, man, that’s a damn lie. I wish I could say something else. But that’s a damn lie. Sam Smith was an investigative reporter and when you write a book I guess you have to have two sources, correct? Why would MJ just point me out? If you have a problem with me come to me. We could take care of it like men. Don’t try to put me out there because I didn’t say anything to Sam in the sanctity of that locker room. Point blank. And, one example, Sam Smith more times would allow my teammates…he would spend time with MJ, up in MJ’s suite and on the golf course and lunch and dinners. So for him to come out and say that, that’s a blatant lie. Lie, lie, lie. If you want to tell lies, go ahead it’s a free country.”

“That pizza was made well. I followed all the rules. Heck, I was – at the time, I was so busy trying to impress to become the store manager there, I followed all the rules.” “I said, “Let me wash my hands. I’m going to make this pizza.” Because I wasn’t on the table. Then, after that, for months after that – I was working there still – everyone was like, “Whatever you do, don’t wash your hands. You’ll get someone sick.” It was kind of a running gag. Fite said he prepared the large thin-crust extra-pepperoni pie then possessed it the entire time, including passing through security as he and the driver entered the hotel. He said they took the elevator to the Bulls’ floor. Fite: “As soon as that door opened, it felt like you got punched in the face with cigar smoke.”

That’d poke another hole in the most sordid rumors – that Jordan flew to Las Vegas or partied late at Robert Redford’s chateau the night before Game 5. Sure, it’s possible Jordan was hungover the next day. But placing him in his hotel room at 10 or 10:30 reduces possibilities. Which brings us back to food poisoning. Fite: Of course, when this whole thing happened, I got called by the district manager, “OK, if one guy got sick, how many others are we going to have to deal with?” And there were no other reports. Nobody else got sick. In fact, later on, a few years later, I had talked to a few people that had gotten pizza that night, too. And who knows much truth is in it? But they’re like, “No, it was fine.”

What did Reinsdorf think of “The Last Dance?” “Overall, I thought it was really good,” he said. “It was basically accurate. I think it showed beyond a shadow of a doubt that Michael is the greatest player of all time. My only objection to it was giving the impression that there was a way of keeping this team together after the sixth championship, which I think was not possible. But even if we had kept it together, we wouldn’t have won. If you really watched the last show with objectivity, you would see that we barely won. We barely got through the season.

“We were fortunate to beat Indiana. And we were fortunate to beat Utah. Michael had to absolutely go above and beyond the pale. He almost willed us to win those games. Scottie Pippen had a back injury and was going to have surgery. And Dennis Rodman had gotten to the point where nobody could stand to have him around anymore. We couldn’t have kept the team together. Even if we had, their skills had eroded. So my only objection to the series was it really should have given a clear impression that it was over, that it was done and it was time.”

“He outworked everybody,” Reinsdorf said. “If he was scouting a game, he didn’t arrive at game time. He would arrive during the warmups. He wanted to see what players did before the game if it was basketball. If it was baseball, he wanted to be there for batting practice. He also never let his opinions be colored by other scouts. “It’s fairly common in both sports for scouts to be buddy-buddy. They hang out together. They talk about what they’ve seen. But Krause didn’t want anything to do with the other scouts for two reasons: one, he didn’t want to tell them anything, and he didn’t want anything they believed to color his own opinion. It was very important to him that he formulate his own opinions, not be colored by somebody else.”

Speaking on The Opinionated Podcast, Payton said he nearly rang His Airness up to give him a piece of his mind but realized he would have probably behaved the same way if it were him. “Oh you know I was hot! I was thinking about calling him at the time!” he declared. “But you know what, that’s what I expect out of Mike, because I would have said the same thing. I’m not going to admit to nothing, I’m not going to admit to someone that D’d me up. I will always tell you at any time in my career, nobody gave me problems but one person and that’s John Stockton to me. So you know that is just the way the game goes.

“I’m not mad at Mike, because Mike didn’t have too many games that somebody D’d him up. He always was dominant but I think me and [Pistons point guard] Joe Dumars were a thorn in his side, I really do think that. And I’m glad he said that because I wouldn’t expect nothing else from him. I don’t expect nothing else from Michael Jordan. Michael Jordan is Michael Jordan, that’s why we talk about him, that’s why we see a 10-week, Last Dance on him, because that’s just the way it is. “He is the guy that we’re all talking about as the greatest basketball player that ever played and that’s fine and I don’t expect nothing less from him.”

More than two decades later, ABC is airing a 10-part sports documentary, ‘The Last Dance,’ chronicling the life and career of legendary basketball Hall of Famer Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls’ teams of the 1990s. The series will air on ABC for five consecutive Saturdays in a row from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. central time. – Saturday, May 23 – Episodes 1 and 2 – Saturday, May 30 – Episodes 3 and 4 – Saturday, June 6 – Episodes 5 and 6 – Saturday, June 13 – Episodes 7 and 8 – Saturday, June 20 – Episodes 9 and 10 The series originally aired in the U.S. on ESPN and was available on Netflix in other countries.

“I finally got (Stockton) on the phone after like two years of chasing him,” Hehir said. “(Stockton) said, ‘I don’t want to be a part of a Michael Jordan puff piece.'” Hehir admitted that his team persistently pursued Malone throughout the entire process of the documentary, but he wouldn’t budge — even after Stockton agreed to talk. “We tried to get them to sit down together. Thought that might be a better option and (Malone would) feel more comfortable with that, but there was just no convincing him,” Hehir said

“Lie, lie, lie. … If MJ had a grudge with me, let’s settle this like men,” Grant said during the interview. “Let’s talk about it. Or we can settle it another way. But yet and still, he goes out and puts this lie out that I was the source behind [the book]. Sam and I have always been great friends. We’re still great friends. But the sanctity of that locker room, I would never put anything personal out there. The mere fact that Sam Smith was an investigative reporter. That he had to have two sources, two, to write a book, I guess. Why would MJ just point me out? It’s only a grudge, man. I’m telling you, it was only a grudge. And I think he proved that during this so-called documentary. When if you say something about him, he’s going to cut you off, he’s going to try to destroy your character.”

Like other former teammates, Grant was unhappy with the portrayal of various players and situations throughout the documentary. “I would say [it was] entertaining, but we know, who was there as teammates, that about 90 percent of it — I don’t know if I can say it on air, but B.S. in terms of the realness of it,” Grant said. “It wasn’t real — because a lot of things [Jordan] said to some of his teammates, that his teammates went back at him. But all of that was kind of edited out of the documentary, if you want to call it a documentary.

“He felt that he could dominate me, but that was sadly mistaken,” Grant said. “Because whenever he went at me, I went at him right back. But in terms of Will Perdue, Steve Kerr and the young man, Scott Burrell, that was heartbreaking [to watch]. To see a guy, a leader, to go at those guys like that. I understand in terms of practicing, you have a push and shove here and there, but outright punching and things of that nature. And calling them the B’s and the H’s, that wasn’t called for.”

As they made their way from their Boynton Beach hotel on the morning of June 26, 2018, for the first of three interviews with Michael Jordan, a number of emotions came over Jason Hehir and Jake Rogal, the director and lead producer for “The Last Dance,” the 10-part documentary series which examines Jordan’s final season with the Bulls in 1997-98. “Anxious, certainly,” Hehir said. “And we felt lucky, too. Jake is one of my best friends and has been by my side creatively, logistically, and in every possible way through this process. He and I would literally say to each other, ‘How lucky are we that we get to tell this story right now?’ Like if you told 10-year-old Jason and Jake that they’d be doing this in 2018, how thrilled they would have been?”

Amid the excitement, there was plenty of strategy to the Jordan interviews. Hehir believed that he and his production crew for “The Last Dance” had to get enough material from the initial interview to complete the first four episodes. The outline for the 10-episode arc determined everything, and because Hehir had decided there would be no narrator (including Jordan) or voiceover element to tell the story, they had to tell the macro facts of the 1997-98 season (and the individual stories of Jordan and other key members of that team such as Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Phil Jackson and Steve Kerr) through voices other than the main characters.

The Flu Game, the Food Poisoning Game, the Pizza Game. Whatever you want to call it, Craig Fite is trying to set the record straight about what may or may not have happened the night before Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals — the now-legendary game when Michael Jordan battled his own ailing body but scored 38 points to will the Chicago Bulls to a win over the Utah Jazz. Fite, 50, says he was working at Park City Pizza Hut when the location’s driver motioned him over after a late-night order came in.

Fite was actually a Bulls fan; he’d adopted the team as his own after it drafted Michael Jordan. He’d become a huge fan of Jordan in 1982 after watching the then-North Carolina star beat his favorite college team, Georgetown, with an incredible jump shot. The Bulls had already been in town for a few days, having come for Game 3 that was played on June 6. Tales of Bulls players, including Dennis Rodman, taking over local bars had floated around the resort town. So when that fateful call came in, the then-assistant manager jumped on the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Now here was Fite on Monday, on local radio with Jake Scott and Gordon Monson, discussing a pizza he says he made 23 years ago and disputing what was broadcast on ESPN. “That’s a bunch of crap,” Fite said. “Sorry, we were five creepy looking guys that the guy felt threatened? I guess you have to sell your book but it really wasn’t that exciting.” Start with this, Fite said. It was just he and his delivery driver, not five men. “There were two of us,” Fite said. “I didn’t even have that many people working [at the Pizza Hut].” He said the pizza was meticulously made. “I followed all the rules,” Fite said. “At the time I was trying to impress the store manager there.”

Kathy Martin Harrison didn’t remember she had signed a waiver. After all, it was 22 years ago. But after seeing herself on ESPN’s “The Last Dance,” her phone blew up and she became a viral meme, the light went on. “Before the game started, a national TV guy came up to us and said, ‘Look, we’re filming a lot of footage of Michael Jordan for a movie,'” Harrison recalled in an appearance on Dan Dakich’s radio show Monday. “‘And if we show you in any of the footage, would you sign a release?’ We signed a release.”

Harrison, who owns a local car dealership and has been an Indiana Pacers season-ticket holder for 44 years, was talking trash to Michael Jordan and the Bulls, just as she did to everyone else at the time. It’s no longer allowed, thanks to the code of conduct, but she enjoyed the interactions with players — and some grew to recognize her, including Dennis Rodman. “We’d just try to get into their heads. Disrupt their game,” Harrison said. “That was our job. That was our mission. “And he would just turn around. He’d go, ‘Oh, that diamond ring you have on your hand is fake. That’s fake.’ And I’d go, ‘OK, Dennis.'”

Harrison isn’t on social media, but messages started to pour in with screenshots from Twitter. She learned what the Karen meme was. By the time she got to bed, it was nearly 1 a.m. “We felt it was our job to get into the heads of the visitors,” Harrison said. “You can’t do it today, because they’ll arrest you, but back then, it was OK to be feisty and yell at the players and the players would yell back at you. It was just a lot of fun. “I do miss those days, but I’m older now and I just sit quietly in my seat.”

Having conducted a vast amount of interviews, the crew behind “The Last Dance” gave voice to many people to tell the story of Michael Jordan‘s career with the Chicago Bulls. But how exactly was interview time distributed in the final cut? We watched the 10 episodes of the documentary clock in hand to find out. Of course Michael Jordan was going to be No. 1, but you may be surprised to know Steve Kerr was second in the minute count and Scottie Pippen only No. 4. (Although that’s way better than Toni Kukoc, arguably the third-best player on the 1998 championship squad).

The Last Dance has made its mark on TV history. The 10-part documentary finished strong for its finale, with episodes 9 & 10 averaging 5.6 million viewers across ESPN and ESPN2. Episode 9 (9-10 p.m.) averaged 5.9 million viewers, up 10 percent from last Sunday, becoming the third most watched episode of the series, trailing the record-breaking audiences of episodes 1 and 3. Episode 10 (10-11 p.m.) averaged 5.4 million viewers, up 9.8 percent from last week’s episode 8, which aired in the same time slot.

Like basketball fans worldwide, Eric Piatkowski watched “The Last Dance,” a 10-part mini-series on Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. With each episode, Piatkowski was reminded of his NBA career, which spanned 14 years. The University of Nebraska graduate made his NBA debut 1994 with the Los Angeles Clippers. “My rookie year, we had the worst record in the NBA,” Piatkowski said. “We were averaging about 2,500 people per game. Everyone said ‘Wait until the Bulls come to town.’ Every star in town is there and there are flashbulbs going off. I’m like, ‘Man, this is amazing.'” Piatkowski remembers seeing several celebrities courtside for his first Bulls vs. Clippers game, including Tiger Woods, Denzel Washington, and Jack Nicholson. Piatkowski adds that prior to the game, his wife and family members were taking pictures with celebrities courtside.

In 2004, Piatkowski was traded from the Houston Rockets to the Chicago Bulls, where he spent two seasons. “They’re showing the inside of the locker room (on the documentary,” Piatkowski said, “and it didn’t change one tiny bit from the time Jordan was there to the time I was there. I said to my wife, ‘Do you see where Jordan’s locker is?’ She says, ‘Yeah.’ I said, ‘That was my locker.'” Piatkowski adds that his wife was surprised to learn he shared the same locker as Jordan. “She goes, ‘So you had Jordan’s locker?'” Piatkowski said. “Yeah. She responded, ‘Well, that’s pretty cool.'”

D.J. Augustin recently derived quite a bit of motivation from watching an episode of “The Last Dance’’ on ESPN. “The last episode that I watched, afterward I went straight into the garage and started working out,’’ said Augustin, referring to Episode 8 where a tearful Jordan refused to make apologies for his competitiveness and his unflappable will to win. “I just think it as motivation – not just to athletes or basketball players, but for anyone who wants to get better at anything that they are doing and want to be a better person physically and mentally. It’s just been great motivation for everybody who has been watching M.J.’’

Meanwhile, Kanter also shared his reflections on The Last Dance, the 10-part documentary chronicling the journey of NBA superstar Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls when they won six titles in the 90s. “I feel like MJ is the G.O.A.T. (greatest of all time) now,” Kanter happily shared. Kanter bared he was able to personally meet Jordan when he was 16 years old, but he more appreciated the former Bulls star’ dedication to the game after watching the documentary that inspired him to be a better basketball player in the court. “It’s amazing to see how dedicated he was, how amazing that he go out there and win every game and how competitive he was. His love and passion of the game is amazing to see,” said Kanter.

The final episodes of “The Last Dance” have aired, yet ESPN has one more program to show about the Chicago Bulls’ sixth championship. ESPN will show “Game 6: The Movie” on Wednesday night at 8 p.m. CT, following a rebroadcast of episodes nine and 10 of “The Last Dance.” The episode will feature game footage captured by five NBA Entertainment cameras and marks the first time that the game has been available to watch in high-definition.

“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.

“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.”

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.”

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.

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.”

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—.

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.”

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?
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May 25, 2020 | 9:30 pm EDT Update
Teammates with the Lakers for two seasons from 2014-16, Tarik Black had a front-row seat for some of the most memorable moments of the final days of Bryant’s Hall of Fame career. But none of them can top April 13, 2016. That was the date of Bryant’s last NBA game. And the former Jayhawk said he remembers every detail of that night at Staples Center. “Allen Fieldhouse was one of the most electrifying places I’ve ever played been in my life,” Black told the Journal-World during a recent phone interview from Los Angeles. “But everything else pales in comparison to that night of Kobe’s last game. I’ve never experienced a feeling or been a part of a sports moment like that in my life.”
Black remembers being with Julius Randle, Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson the afternoon of that game when he first saw Bryant arrive at Staples Center. Together, they approached the man they affectionately called “O.G.” and gave him a simple message. “We walked up to him and said, ‘You’re going to take every shot tonight,’” Black recalled. “And he was like, ‘No I’m not. Just play basketball.’ And we were like, ‘No, O.G. You’re going to take every shot. If we get an offensive rebound, it’s coming to you.’”
During his two seasons as Bryant’s teammate, Black and Bryant became close. As luck would have it, an injury during his 2019-20 season in Israel sent him back to Los Angeles earlier than normal and he was able to see Bryant one final time just a week before the helicopter accident. It was the first time the two had seen each other since their days as teammates. And Black, unaware of what fate lied ahead, made sure to make the encounter count. “I actually got a chance to thank him for what he meant for my life,” Black said. “And he just kept saying, ‘I’m proud of you.’ So it rocked me to my core when I heard about his passing.”
Storyline: Kobe Bryant Death
May 25, 2020 | 5:30 pm EDT Update
Roc Nation Sports has signed a large class of highly regarded NBA draft prospects, including point guard LaMelo Ball, a projected top-five pick. The agency recently signed Ball’s brother, New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball, away from CAA Sports. Roc Nation NBA agent Raymond Brothers is representing both of the Ball brothers. LaMelo Ball, who played last season in Australia on the Illawarra Hawks of the National Basketball League, is ranked No. 3 overall by website nbadraft.net. Brothers is also representing No. 12-ranked Memphis forward Precious Achiuwa.
Roc Nation signed Texas Tech guard Jahmi’us Ramsey, who is ranked No. 24: Washington power forward/center Isaiah Stewart, who is ranked No. 26; and Kentucky guard Immanuel Quickley, who is ranked No. 35 by nbadraft.net. Additionally, Roc Nation signed Temple forward Quinton Rose, American University guard Sa’eed Nelson and Indiana guard Devonte Green, brother of Los Angeles Lakers guard/forward Danny Green. Agents Brothers, Drew Gross and Sam Permut are representing the players.
Tandem Sports + Entertainment has signed Northwestern guard Pat Spencer for representation in the NBA draft. Matt Laczkowski, Tandem director of athlete and talent representation, is representing Spencer, who transferred to Northwestern after playing lacrosse for four seasons at Loyola-Maryland. Spencer was drafted No. 1 in the 2019 Premier Lacrosse League draft, but chose to spend the next year pursuing basketball as a graduate transfer at Northwestern.
Storyline: Draft Agents
Ty Lawson posted a cryptic message on his Instagram story Monday in which he seemed to call out UNC head coach Roy Williams. “Who talks s— about someone who won them a championship …” Lawson wrote in his Instagram story. “(You’re) weird… I got messages from 10 NBA GMs that said it came out your mouth … That’s why I don’t f— with Carolina or support anything y’all do.”
May 25, 2020 | 4:32 pm EDT Update
Turner Sports analyst and Hall of Famer Charles Barkley didn’t feel the need to hedge in a Monday appearance on the Paul Finebaum Show. “We’re gonna make a decision in the next week,” Barkley said. “I’m 100% sure we’re going to play. I know my friends in Major League Baseball are going to play. I know that the (NHL) is going to play. … I do know this, talking to my bosses at Turner: We’re going to play basketball. It is gonna be in Florida and Vegas, or just Florida.”
Storyline: Season Resuming?
“The key is gonna be the players,” Barkley said. “I mean, listen — big basketball players pushing on each other in the lane, fighting for rebounds and post position, there’s no way they can social distance. You got to worry — they say they’re gonna put them in a hotel for two or three months, I’m like, ‘Well are the maids gonna be in the hotel for two or three months?’ The maids are gonna go home every day. What about the people in room service? They’re gonna go home every day. So it’s just a lot of unanswered questions.”
The Department will work with the professional sporting groups to identify the specific athletes, essential staff, team and league leadership, spouses, and dependents covered by this exemption, including Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, the Women’s National Basketball Association, the Professional Golfers’ Association Tour, the Ladies Professional Golf Association Tour, the National Hockey League, the Association of Tennis Professionals, and the Women’s Tennis Association.
Storyline: Season Resuming?
Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says the swift development of vaccines and effective treatments for COVID-19 are priorities towards achieving the Tokyo Olympics next year. Abe says recovery from the coronavirus pandemic only in Japan would not be enough to hold the Games because it involves spectators and athletes from around the world. He reiterates that the government hopes to hold the Tokyo Games “in a complete form” with spectators as a proof of human victory against the coronavirus.
Part of VICE TV’s VICE VERSA series of documentary specials, One Man and His Shoes essentially serves as an expanded version of what Episode 5 (and to some extent, Episode 1) of The Last Dance touched on: The cultural phenomenon of Nike’s Air Jordan shoe line. Director Yemi Bamiro doesn’t have to tell a larger narrative (though his film eventually goes there), so he can zoom in on this aspect of Jordan’s story.
May 25, 2020 | 4:26 pm EDT Update
How optimistic are you that the NBA will resume play at some point? Carlisle: “I am optimistic. It feels like things are moving in what I would characterize as a generally good direction, in terms of our ability to test and control an environment. I have no absolute knowledge of anything, but I do know there’s a great desire of the players to return to playing games and get into a playoff format of some sort.”
Storyline: Season Resuming?
Rick Carlisle: “I think if you look at the big picture, it probably sets up even better for the start, if the new season’s going to start in December, which a lot of people are speculating. It’s kind of like the elongated All-Star break. And some of the good things that’s brought for the remaining part of the regular season you’re coming off of an eight or nine-day break instead of a three or four-day break, as in the old days.”
Isiah Thomas: “I think in Ja we are watching the next generation of the great point guards that have been coming through our league. You have that group of Stephen Curry, Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard, John Wall and so forth, but for the younger generation of point guards, I think Ja – who is projected to win the 2019-20 Rookie of the Year award – is going to be leading that evolution of great point guard play.”
In leading the ‘Bad Boy’ Pistons to back-to-back NBA titles (1988-89 as well as 1989-90), Thomas consistently compromised his private numbers to guarantee group success. It is a high quality he likewise sees in Morant. “That is a unique gift,” Thomas claimed. “Team- friends will certainly like you for it yet analytics will certainly despise you for it. Sharing the basketball as well as obtaining everybody entailed, being prepared to make the ‘hockey’ aid instead of keeping the round to obtain the aid on your own … you see Ja doing all of those points in the program of a basketball video game.
Mike Bibby sat down with CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith and talked about his run with Sacramento — a fit that was comfortable for Bibby right away. Even though trading for him meant bidding farewell to Jason Williams, a guy Kings fans were in love with. “The guys treated me like I was there for five, six, seven years,” Bibby said. “I got there and Jason Williams was a prized possession in Sacramento and when I got traded for him, I just wanted to fit in, I didn’t know if the fans would like me or if the team would like me. In my first year we had the best record in the West. I had the best time of my life and my career playing in Sacramento with those guys. I think Sacramento is the best team I played on.”
May 25, 2020 | 4:09 pm EDT Update
Tobias Harris hasn’t shot a basketball since the 2019-20 season was halted in March due to the coronavirus pandemic. But he has been working out every day in his garage gym at his Philadelphia home to stay ready should play resume. He’s also been talking to his teammates on Zoom. “Everybody wants to be safe, so that’s the key thing,” Harris replied when asked if he has any concerns about a return. “If we can find a venue and it’s safe and we have the proper protocols in place for guys to feel comfortable, then I’m fine with it.” Harris described the idea of playing actual games in an empty gym as, “Kind of like a practice setting. But guys are competitive, so we’re always gonna go as hard as we can.”
Storyline: Season Resuming?
Hearing Chicago Bulls star Michael Jordan in “The Last Dance”, crying on the locker room floor following his Father’s Day championship in 1996 — MJ’s first title since his dad, James, was murdered — caused Harris himself to become emotional. “I ain’t going to lie, I was shedding a tear when I saw Jordan crying,” Harris told Yahoo Sports in a recent telephone interview. “I thought they should’ve just stopped the episode right then and there. It was touching. I’d seen the photo a whole lot, but I was probably too young to understand. And now you can really see all the emotion that’s in it. I did some research after the show ended. You hear about his father passing away, but then you dive in and it’s a pretty crazy story.”
Harris, a Long Island native, was fortunate enough to see Jordan play at Madison Square Garden when he was a kid alongside his father, longtime NBA agent Torrel Harris — founder and CEO of Unique Sports Management — and his older brother, Tyler Harris. It proved to be a memorable evening. “We kept asking my dad if we could meet him after the game and he was just telling us maybe,” Tobias recalled. “But it ended up happening and it was unbelievable. As we were walking away I realized I didn’t get him to sign my card. So my dad had to pull him back and get him to sign our cards. Tyler and I were so excited on the train ride back. I kept thinking my dad was so cool because he knows Michael Jordan. I ended up losing the card on the way back, but it didn’t matter because I had gotten to meet him. It was an unforgettable experience.”
“When I was given the checkbook, I went to put in the tip & information to close the table and I couldn’t believe it,” the message read. “From a $160 check, the tip read $1,000.” The restaurant noted that the waitress was “shaking and had tears of happiness” while saying many employees had been suffering due to closures amid the coronavirus pandemic.

May 25, 2020 | 1:18 pm EDT Update
The Sun-Times has reported that Karnisovas and general manager Marc Eversley have already had detailed discussions with players and retained personnel, and were getting enough mixed feedback of what’s gone on the last year that they were leaning toward starting with a new coach of their choosing. Ownership and former VP of basketball operations John Paxson have given support for Boylen, but a source reiterated that COO Michael Reinsdorf was by no means influencing the front office’s decision on the coach and would allow Boylen’s dismissal if Karnisovas wants to go that way. No questions asked.
Storyline: Bulls Front Office
Doc Rivers may have the largest All-Time starting five squad ever. Austin Rivers joined his father on the GO OFF podcast, where the two talked about All-Time starting fives, Kobe stories, and their player/coach dynamic. When it comes to an All-Time starting five, Doc Rivers is in favor of size. “I’m going Kareem at the center,” Rivers said. “I’m going Tim Duncan at the four, because those both are two-way players. I’m going Michael, and Magic at the one and two. This may be the biggest team ever. And then LeBron at the three.”
Coach Rivers had a top-five shooting squad as well. “Dirk at the five,” Rivers said. “I would put Durant at the three. Steph at the point, because that’s what you’d need. I would put Kobe in there because of his ability to drive. Now the whole team changes. At the four I couldn’t even come up with one.” Austin contested that Ray Allen should be on his father’s top-five shooting squad, but Doc believed Kobe’s ability to drive superseded the argument. In addition to Kobe’s driving ability, the elder Rivers believed Kobe’s shooting would improve significantly on a squad of good shooters.
May 25, 2020 | 10:34 am EDT Update
“Everything is pointing toward a return of the NBA this season at a single site in Orlando at Disney World,” Wojnarowski said on ESPN’s Get Up. “Teams expect the league to tell them to start recalling their players as soon as next week. There will be a two-week quarantine back in markets. Some teams might go directly to Disney to start training or somewhere in-between. But the league has started to not only put the plans in place for return in terms of testing and safety, health-wise. But really digging this week into what that format is going to look like.”
Storyline: Season Resuming?
They were close to hiring Steve Kerr before he decided to take a job with Golden State. The Knicks also reached an advanced state of negotiations with Milwaukee’s Mike Budenholzer before hiring David Fizdale. Discussions between the Knicks and Budenholzer in the 2018 offseason advanced to a point where some people who would have come with Budenholzer to New York were talking about places to live in the city because they felt Budenholzer was close to taking the job, per SNY sources. Prior to Budenholzer’s interview with the Knicks, the New York Post reported that New York was Budenholzer’s top choice entering the offseason.
He proposed a photo that would have her looking like a pin-up in the style of a mermaid, and Buss was on board. “It was kind of like I was like a mermaid underwater with a blue backdrop,” Buss said. “They used to show mermaids holding pearls … and so instead of the pearls I got basketballs. And I’m not naked but I might look like I’m naked. I get people [who say], ‘How dare you put a naked picture of you on Twitter. It was in Playboy.’ And it’s not. It was from Sports Illustrated! “Yes, do I have to talk about the Playboy and the decision [to pose]. Yes, I’m still explaining it 20 years later. They want to judge and put me in a category.”
Then she told a personal story about another star. When her dad, Jerry Buss, bought the Lakers in 1979, they drafted Magic Johnson and became the NBA’s premiere franchise. It ended suddenly when Johnson had to retire in 1991 because of an HIV diagnosis. “I prayed to the skies above and I said if we ever get a player on our team like Magic Johnson again, I will never ever, ever take that player for granted,” Buss said, her voice catching. “And then we got Kobe. As heartbroken as I am, one comfort that I have is that Kobe knew how much we loved him and we told him and we retired his numbers. He never doubted that we were behind him 100%. That gives me some comfort. We never held back the celebrating the greatness that was Kobe.”
May 25, 2020 | 6:47 am EDT Update

James Wiseman the frontrunner for the No. 1 pick

In an anonymous poll of 35 NBA executives conducted by Stadium, James Wiseman has emerged as the frontrunner for the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft. The 7-foot-1 center, who played just three games at Memphis this past season prior to withdrawing from school amidst an NCAA suspension, received 20 of the 35 votes (57 percent). “I wouldn’t even want the No. 1 pick,” one NBA general manager told me. “If I have it, I’m trying like hell to trade it.”
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