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Seven of the most handsome NBA jerseys: Garnett Wolves jerseys on the list, McGrady retro jersey dazzling!

Recently, the Lakers officially released a voting event. Which one of the Lakers jerseys do you like the most in the new season? The results show that most fans still prefer the gold one. Many jerseys in the NBA are very handsome. Today the factory director will show you the eight most handsome jerseys in the NBA.

Seven of the most handsome NBA jerseys: Garnett Wolves jerseys on the list, McGrady retro jersey dazzling!

Kobe yellow retro Lakers jersey

The first is the Lakers retro jersey, Bryant’s No. 24 with this retro jersey is simply handsome. Not only does it have the sense of retroness but also a sense of the times. Kobe put on this jersey with white long armguards and Kobe’s elegant style, which is like a movie on the field.

Seven of the most handsome NBA jerseys: Garnett Wolves jerseys on the list, McGrady retro jersey dazzling!

Jordan Classic White Red Bull Jersey

Jordan’s jersey with red logo on the white bottom is popular all over the world because of Jordan. Whether in various movies and TV shows or in the big singer’s mv, Jordan’s jersey will often appear. On a certain level, Jordan did it: wearing Jordan shoes and Jordan jerseys is a cultural phenomenon of the trend.

Seven of the most handsome NBA jerseys: Garnett Wolves jerseys on the list, McGrady retro jersey dazzling!

McGrady red and white retro rocket jersey

McGrady’s red and white retro jersey was kindly called a “tomato scrambled eggs” color jersey by domestic fans. The overall color matching of this jersey gives a very comfortable feeling. And McGrady’s slender figure with this jersey also infinitely corresponds to his “playing poem” style.

Seven of the most handsome NBA jerseys: Garnett Wolves jerseys on the list, McGrady retro jersey dazzling!

Marbury White Red New York Jersey

When Marbury was playing in the Knicks, New York No. 3 jerseys can be seen everywhere on the streets of the United States. Although Marbury’s own face value is not too high, but this jersey is very popular. Coupled with the pinnacle of Marbury is also a street football character, this jersey in a street stadium has a certain audience is still understandable.

Seven of the most handsome NBA jerseys: Garnett Wolves jerseys on the list, McGrady retro jersey dazzling!

Iverson Red and Black 76ers Jersey

Pinnacle Iverson’s impact on the NBA is not just his unprecedented speed and unpredictable speed. Iverson’s impact on the NBA in the hip-hop culture is profound. In the heyday of Iverson, as long as you go to the field to play, you will definitely see Iverson’s No. 3 jersey. The beauty of the sky is also the biggest reason why many basketball fans choose this jersey.

Seven of the most handsome NBA jerseys: Garnett Wolves jerseys on the list, McGrady retro jersey dazzling!

Garnett Blue and White Timberwolves jersey

If Iverson ruled the outside jersey at that time, it would be entirely okay to say that Garnett ruled the inside jersey. This jersey is full of fashion, and the team logo and jersey number are sharp and angular. At that time, the school team, including the forwards, including the director, basically had a Garnett No. 21 jersey.

Seven of the most handsome NBA jerseys: Garnett Wolves jerseys on the list, McGrady retro jersey dazzling!

Wade 3 Retro Heat Jersey

This hot retro jersey is very rare, the face value of this jersey has reached the level of the sky. The overall black tone with a rainbow-colored strip is a clear stream in the rigid NBA jersey world. And No. 3 is seamless in this jersey. If you really love Wade, you must have this jersey!

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Adam Silver, NBA teams express outrage after George Floyd’s death Commissioner Silver: We cannot ignore racism, police brutality and racial injustice

The NBA, its teams, coaches, players and executives are outraged by the violence that led to the death of George Floyd and countless other African Americans.

League commissioner Adam Silver stated the following as part of an internal memo: “I spent the weekend watching the protests around the country over the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. As a league, we share the outrage and offer our sincere condolences to their families and friends. Just as we are fighting a pandemic, which is impacting communities and people of color more than anyone else, we are being reminded that there are wounds in our country that have never healed.

“Racism, police brutality and racial injustice remain part of everyday life in America and cannot be ignored. At the same time, those who serve and protect our communities honorably and heroically are again left to answer for those who don’t.”

Current and former NBA players have used their platforms to protest against racial injustices.
On June 1, the National Basketball Coaches Association issued a statement in which they called the events of the past few weeks “shameful, inhumane and intolerable.”

“Witnessing the murder of George Floyd in cold blood and in broad daylight has traumatized our nation, but the reality is that African Americans are targeted and victimized on a daily basis,” the NBCA said in its statement. “As NBA coaches, we cannot treat this as an isolated incident of outrage.

“We are committed to working in our NBA cities with local leaders, officials and law enforcement agencies to create positive change in our communities. We have the power and platform to affect change, and we will use it.”

Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, was handcuffed and unarmed as a white Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for several minutes despite several pleas that he could not breathe.

Here’s what’s being said — and done — within the NBA community.

Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks sent out a lengthy memo to its employees. The team plans to remotely host a company-wide workshop about race via video conference next Friday. Part of the memo read: “People of color across the country are rightfully enraged, hurt, sad and tired. These tragic deaths and racist incidents have weighed heavily on our entire ownership and leadership team.” Included in that leadership team is coach Lloyd Pierce, who said on Instagram that the #JusticeForFloyd hashtag could have easily been #JusticeForLloyd.

Boston Celtics
From the organization

“Like many others across the country, the heartbreaking and senseless deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, along with other recent events, have left the entire Celtics organization struggling with grief and anger. During a time in which the phrase ‘new normal’ has often been used as our nation has struggled with the devastation of a pandemic, we imagine and hope for a ‘new normal’ where every citizen is afforded the same rights, has the same opportunities, receives the same treatment, and can peacefully enjoy every freedom promised to all of us.” (Full statement)

Brooklyn Nets
From the organization

“Not all of us can ever be in a position to experience the personal pain, fear and despair of Black Americans in light of the events. But our instinct tells us that the lack of respect for human life, fueled by prejudice, is simply wrong. All people, regardless of color, race or ethnicity, deserve to be treated with human dignity and protected from violence. Our hearts are broken by the attacks on the personal safety and dignity of the Black community.” (Full statement)

Charlotte Hornets
From team owner Michael Jordan

“I am deeply saddened, truly pained and plain angry. I see and feel everyone’s pain, outrage and frustration. I stand with those who are calling out the ingrained racism and violence toward people of color in our country. We have had enough.” (Full statement)

Chicago Bulls
From president of team charities Nancy Reinsdorf and president and COO Michael Reinsdorf

“There is a crisis in our country, and we need to redouble our efforts and work harder than ever. We have to rise above our differences and come together to affect real change for the future; otherwise we’re going to see the past repeat itself again. We have to listen to each other, act with love and be intentional and relentless in our pursuit of a better world. It is time.” (Full statement)

Cleveland Cavaliers
From Cavaliers general manager Koby Altman and coach J.B. Bickerstaff

“This is not the first time that we have had to stand together in an attempt to impact change, but this could be the first time we actually “DO” create change for all of humanity. In the face of desired change, we cannot treat this as an isolated incident of outrage, but one that we remain consistently engaged with and one where we focus our energy toward sustainable accountability.” (Full statement)

Dallas Mavericks
From the organization

“We will NOT stand for injustice, inequity, and disparity. History goes through phases. Phases in Restoring (justice), Rebuilding (communities) and Rebounding (as people).”

Mavericks forward Maxi Kleber shared thoughts via his Instagram story on Sunday: “Racism, discrimination and injustice because of skin color, religion, or other attributes is never acceptable. We are all humans and should work together, to make the world a better place. It’s on us, to educate ourselves and the people around us, to build trust, understanding and a more peaceful world.”

Denver Nuggets
From the organization

“Our nation is in mourning and in pain as we continue to struggle with the persistent legacy of racism and racial inequality. So often, sports have played a critical role in binding and integrating societies. During some of America’s darkest days, sports have provided a source of light. From Jesse Owens to Jackie Robinson to Muhammad Ali, selfless and courageous athletes have opened our hearts, eyes and minds. Embracing diversity and accommodating difference to create a symphonic whole, marks a core virtue of any team.” (Full statement)

Detroit Pistons
From coach Dwane Casey

“Fifty-four years ago I was an eight-year-old boy living in rural Kentucky when the schools were desegregated. I walked into a white school where I was not wanted nor welcomed. At that time there were no cell phones to record my treatment, no cable news stations with 24/7 coverage, no social media to record the reality of the situation or offer support nor condemnation. But I can remember exactly how I felt as an eight-year-old child. I felt helpless. I felt as if I was neither seen, nor heard, nor understood. As I have watched the events unfold in the days following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, a city where I coached and once called home, I see how many people continue to feel those same feelings – helpless, frustrated, invisible, angry.” (Full statement)

From the organization

“The protests that have unfolded across our country over the last week and the senseless deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor shine a piercing light on issues of racism, police brutality and inequitable justice that continue to divide our country. As an organization, we condemn those things. But words aren’t enough. The call to action is loud and clear and our organization is committed with a high sense of urgency to helping facilitate not only healing, but change.” (Full statement)

Golden State Warriors
From the organization

“We condemn, in no uncertain terms, racism and violence perpetrated against members of the Black community, and we call on all people to channel their justifiable anger into creating a more just and equitable society.”

Houston Rockets
From the organization

“We mourn for and are angered by the senseless death of George Floyd, a man raised in Houston’s Third Ward. Inexcusably, our Black community continues to be subject to racism, bigotry, prejudice and fear. This must end. All people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. We condemn violence in all its forms. As an organization, we are committed to working with our players, coaches, employees and community leaders to affect meaningful and lasting change.”

Indiana Pacers
From the organization

“Tragic events in the Black community leave us with a shared sense of sadness and moral outrage. We condemn racism and we fully support those peacefully coming forward in the names of justice and change. Our city and our state are strong and resilient, and we must listen to and respect each other.”

Malcolm Brogdon also joined Jaylen Brown in peaceful protests held in Atlanta.

LA Clippers
From coach Doc Rivers

“My father was a 30-year veteran of the Chicago police department, and if he were still with us right now, he’d be hurt and outraged by the senseless acts of racial injustice that continue to plague our country. Being black in America is tough. I’ve personally been called more racial slurs than I can count, been pulled over many times because of the color of my skin, and even had my home burned down. The response we are seeing across the nation, to the murder of George Floyd, is decades in the making. Too often, people rush to judge the response, instead of the actions that prompted it. We have allowed too many tragedies to pass in vain. This isn’t an African-American issue. This is a human issue. Our society must start getting comfortable with the uncomfortable conversation and do the right thing.” (Full statement)

Los Angeles Lakers
From the organization

“We condemn racism, bigotry, violence and prejudice in all its forms. Everyone has the right to live free from fear and to be treated with dignity and respect. We hear the pain of our Black community and we will not stay silent.”

Memphis Grizzlies
From the organization

“The Memphis Grizzlies stand squarely in opposition to racism and injustice. We condemn all acts of racial violence. It is engrained in our culture and part of our ethos, and we are going to build on established initiatives in our community. … We looked internally to understand what additional ways we could support all members of our organization, and recognized that under our current time off policy, staff may have to make a financial sacrifice in order to exercise their right to vote. Knowing fundamentally that change happens at the ballot box, we’ve created a new category of Paid Time Off (PTO) to be used specifically in order to vote so that during local and national elections our staff will never have to make a decision between voting or incurring a financial loss.” (Full statement)

Miami Heat
From the organization

“One of the characteristics that makes the city of Miami so unique is its immense cultural diversity. This diversity is a celebrated part of South Florida, both inside and out of AmericanAirlines Arena. It is one of the reasons we deeply mourn the tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and too many others, whom we have lost to acts of extreme and excessive violence against African-Americans; acts that have unfortunately become all too commonplace. The Miami HEAT sends their deepest condolences to the Floyd, Taylor and Arbery families. Our hearts are broken. But our resolve is not. We urge everyone to responsibly let their voices be heard and encourage our community to come together.”

Heat legend Udonis Haslem also at a protest in Miami, saying, “As a black man, raising black kids in America, I’m scared as hell, way more scared than I ever was for myself.”

Milwaukee Bucks
From the organization

“We are distraught and angered by the senseless death of George Floyd, but we know this is not an isolated case. Racial biases, abuses of power and injustices continue to plague communities throughout the country, including Milwaukee. There needs to be more accountability. As an organization, we remain deeply committed to address issues of social injustice and to make meaningful change for African-Americans and all marginalized members of our community.”

Minnesota Timberwolves
From the organization

“Our community is grieving the senseless tragedy and death of George Floyd. The entire Timberwolves and Lynx organization shares its deepest sympathy with the Floyd family. We will work tirelessly to use our voices to influence change, encourage healing, and promote thoughtful action as we move forward.”

Go behind the scenes as Timberwolves players Karl-Anthony Towns and Josh Okogie attend a rally for George Floyd.

New Orleans Pelicans
From the organization

“One week ago today, George Floyd was tragically and senselessly murdered. Anger, sadness and protest followed throughout our nation in response to this unjust murder. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of George Floyd. There are no written words, nor the timing of those words that can properly honor the life of George Floyd. We stand against police brutality in any form. Statements are words; unified action towards a solution is what needs to come from this now.” (Full statement)

New York Knicks
Knicks point guard Dennis Smith Jr. attended a protest with musician J. Cole in their hometown of Fayetteville, North Carolina.

Oklahoma City Thunder
From the organization

“While great sadness and anger resonates throughout the black community and our entire state and the rest of the nation, we join other leaders in accepting responsibility to continue efforts to expand dialogue and enact real change. We believe that change starts by leading through love, empathy, understanding and leaning on the relationships that we have in place to continue to create a positive impact.” (Full statement)

Orlando Magic
From CEO Alex Martins

“We stand with our neighbors and the nation in condemning the horrific and senseless death of George Floyd. There have been far too many victims of racial bias and abuses of power, particularly in the Black community. As an organization, we remain deeply committed to providing an environment where all feel welcomed, valued and appreciated, where all are treated with dignity and respect.” (Full statement)

Philadelphia 76ers
From the organization

“Our black community and people of color continue to face racism, prejudice and injustice. It is unacceptable and we cannot and will not tolerate it in our community. Now, more than ever, we must strive for accountability, including ensuring that our community is treated with fairness, transparency and dignity. We must stay united and strong during the conflict and hurt we are experiencing. The 76ers are committed to using our voice and taking action to support and drive change that is long overdue.”

Phoenix Suns
From coach Monty Williams

“I’m angry. I’m afraid. And I’m in pain. When I read those words, I feel like I’m channeling one of my kids. These are the words of a teenager lost and looking for direction in a messed-up world, not the sentiment of an NBA head coach and former player. We’re supposed to have all of the answers. We’re supposed to be seen as grace under pressure. We’re supposed to lead by example. Still, I am angry, afraid and in pain. I don’t have all the answers, but I know the solutions start with love, listening, compassion, service and defending those who can’t defend themselves. And I have definitely lost my cool over the years in the face of abject racism — dating back to my earliest memories growing up in Colonial Virginia — and likely more in the days to come.” (Complete open letter)

Portland Trail Blazers
From the organization

“We are devastated and frustrated by the most recent senseless acts of violence in the long continuum of racial injustice in our country. The Trail Blazers organization and players grieve the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and the countless others who have lost their lives in this increasingly familiar manner. This unprecedented moment has challenged us to not be silent but to use our voices, our time and our energy to be genuine allies to those who endure these injustices directly.” (Full statement)

Sacramento Kings
From team owner and chairman Vivek Ranadivé

“For all the hope and promise that our country stands for, the freedom to live without fear from the vitriol and hatred of racism is not a reality for millions of Black Americans. Unfortunately, this is not new. For hundreds of years, innumerable men, women and children have been treated as less than, asked to work twice as hard and taken too early as a result of bias, bigotry and unequal treatment.” (Full statement)

San Antonio Spurs
Spurs guard Lonnie Walker IV lended an assist by helping clean up the streets of San Antonio on Sunday. A protest Saturday night ended with rioters causing damage to the city’s central business district. Walker IV stated on Twitter that justice can be served while not affecting family businesses and the community. “During this protest everyone isn’t seeing eye level but we have to understand we can only control what we can control. The greatest thing I have seen. At least here in San Antonio is that the COMMUNITY is coming together.”

Toronto Raptors
From team president Masai Ujiri

“Ever since I first saw the video, I’ve been thinking about the cycle. A death like this happens, and we rage about it, and the headlines recede, and the world moves on, and then a few weeks later something else happens and we’re outraged again and then we move on, again. We have to stop that cycle. No one can deny the police have a tough job. But they are peace officers. They are supposed to protect all of us. This is the profession they chose. I didn’t see any peace or protection when that officer had his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck. I saw indifference.” (Complete open letter)

Raptors star guard Kyle Lowry took to Twitter on June 1 to share his thoughts on all that has transpired of late, writing in part: “How can I explain to my 4 year old and 8 year old that being black in American comes with a chance you can be harmed, or killed just because of the color of your skin, the texture of your hair, the way you walk, anything they want to say that makes you black!!!”

Utah Jazz
From team owner Gail Miller

“Hearts across America, and in Utah, are hurting following events of racism, discrimination and injustice sparked by the recent and senseless death of George Floyd. As I stated on the basketball court of Vivint Smart Home Arena last year, ‘We believe in treating all people with courtesy and respect as human beings … no one wins when respect goes away.’” (Full statement)

Additionally, Jazz coach Quin Snyder will serve on the NBCA’s committee on racial injustice and reform, the team announced June 1. In an episode of The Woj Pod with Adrian Wojnarowski, Snyder explained his getting involved. “It’s about being willing to have that dialogue, to be transparent with yourself, to be honest with yourself,” Snyder said on the podcast. “Ultimately, as a white man, what I was hearing was, We need help. It’s not enough just to have your support. There has to be a willingness to confront these things when you see them, to be willing to take action.”

Washington Wizards
A united statement from the players

“We will no longer tolerate the assassination of people of color in this country. We will no longer accept the abuse of power from law enforcement. We will no longer accept ineffective government leaders who are tone-deaf, lack compassion or respect for communities of color. We will no longer shut up and dribble.”

From team ownership group Monumental Sports & Entertainment

“The death of George Floyd, and many other black Americans, is unconscionable. We believe that there needs to be action and leadership to tackle and address the social injustices and inequities in systemic racism. We stand together knowing there is more to be done.”

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Report: NBA owners, executives feeling hopeful for return of season

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski has reported an update following a virtual meeting between a board of governors and Adam Silver that there is increasing positive momentum toward resuming the 2019-20 NBA season as the coronavirus pandemic continues:

Owners and executives on the call were encouraged about the league’s progress toward minimizing health risk upon a return and the league office’s positive conversations with the National Basketball Players Association about the players’ desire to eventually restart the season, sources said.

Discussions centered on health and safety concerns, including the goal of getting team officials and players comfortable with the idea that a positive test for the coronavirus upon a return would not shutter play.

Silver told those on the call that if a positive test would “shut us down, we probably shouldn’t go down this path.”

The NBA is looking to make a decision over the next two to four weeks about whether they will be restarting the league, but are studying many factors first. As Wojnarowski noted, this includes:

Understanding the trajectory of new cases in those states starting to reopen, understanding who is getting severely ill and why, and developments in testing types. The NBA also is studying how other leagues are handling positive tests among participants, sources said. On the call, the league office wasn’t optimistic about rapid-response testing becoming widely available within the next month, sources said.

The league has now opened 22 of its 30 practice facilities. Wojnarowski also noted that the NBA is continuing to focus on Walt Disney World in Orlando and Las Vegas as possible isolated sites to host the league.

It should go without saying that it’s critical the NBA doesn’t try to rush the return of games. There are so many important factors besides just the health of players and team personnel, who shouldn’t be returning before it’s completely safe to do so (for instance, the league also needs to consider the wellbeing of families, the availability of tests, and what effects coronavirus could have on someone after they’ve had it).

It’s concerning to read that the goal is for players and officials to be comfortable with a positive test not stopping play, when we know how easily the coronavirus could spread to other players, staff members, and their families.

Wojnarowski added that the NBA, NBPA and medical experts are tackling the question of how many positive tests would be too many to carry on playing with, as they look to decide whether the league can return.

We should have more clarity about what the NBA is thinking and whether the season may resume in the next few weeks.

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Report: Poll of NBA players shows desire to resume season, if safe

Some of the NBA’s biggest stars reportedly formed a united front to resume the 2019-20 season during a private conference call Monday..

MIAMI (AP) — A person familiar with the results of poll of NBA players taken by their union says there would be “overwhelming” support for any plan that has this season resuming in a safe way amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The poll conducted by the National Basketball Players Association was informal but gave a clear sense that players would like to not only get to the playoffs but also resume at least some of the regular season, according to the person who shared details with The Associated Press on Tuesday on condition of anonymity because it was not to be detailed publicly.

The exact results of the poll were unknown, and the methodology behind the poll — including how many players participated — was unclear.

The NBPA sent a letter to agents Tuesday discussing, among other things, the results of the player polling and some details of the call the union and its membership had late last week with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. In that call, Silver talked about the possibility of resuming a season without fans and potentially playing at a centralized site — notions that have been discussed for some time.

The NBA suspended its season on March 11 with 259 regular season games remaining. Players have been paid in full on each of the four paydays that have followed, though that will change Friday when most of the league sees a 25% reduction in their paycheck.

Players stand to lose roughly $850 million in gross salary if the regular season is not resumed and the NBA exercises its right to withhold roughly 1.08% of each player’s salary for any game that is ultimately canceled. No games have been officially canceled yet; the 25% reduction starting with Friday’s check was negotiated between the league and the union with the expectation that the season will eventually be shortened.

A handful of teams have opened their facilities for voluntary workouts; Miami and Orlando are expected to be the next two teams to do so on Wednesday.

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‘The Last Dance’: 5 takeaways from Episodes 7 and 8 Bulls doc bridges championship runs as Jordan takes baseball sojourn, returns wearing No. 45

Here are five takeaways from episodes 7 & 8 of “The Last Dance,” the documentary series on Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls’ 1997-98 championship season: 

1. So that’s why he was a jerk

This wasn’t so much a scoop as it was a drilling-down into Jordan’s psyche and motivation. When he rode his Bulls teammates harder than most Marine drill instructors breaking down new recruits, he was doing it for himself, sure. He wanted to know that the Jordanaires were up to the task of winning championships. 

But it also was for them. We saw some of the toughest “tough love” you could imagine in Jordan’s demands, mocking and confrontations with fellow Chicago players.

And we got Jordan, finally, pulling back the curtain on it. 

“Winning has a price,” Jordan said in his recent sitdowns with he documentary crew. “Leadership has a price.” 

And: “Once you join the team, you lived at a certain standard I played the game. And I wasn’t going to take anything less.”

Center Bill Wennington, who had joined the Bulls during Jordan’s initial retirement, got a no-nonsense welcome when the boss returned. Wennington said Jordan told him, “I want you to jump on the cape. But you have to hold on.”

And if that meant punching teammates such as Will Perdue and Steve Kerr, verbally abusing Scott Burrell, or making Dennis Hopson cry (in 1990-91, not included in the doc), so be it.

“With that kind of mentality he had,” B.J. Armstrong said, “he couldn’t be a nice guy.”

With Jordan – as podcast king Adam Carolla likes to say – it wasn’t about you doing your best, it was you doing his best. He got very specific that he never asked a teammate to do anything that he didn’t do.

He got very emotional too.

“I wanted to win but I wanted them to be a part of winning as well,” Jordan said, his voice thickening. “If you don’t want to play that way, don’t play that way.”

At which point he paused and said, “Break,” calling his own “cut” to the scene.

2. James Jordan never left his side

It was inevitable that we were going to be taken through the summer of 1993, when Jordan’s father James was murdered in a random, roadside assault on a Carolina highway. What that portion of Episode 7 showed was that Michael didn’t decide to retire because of his dad’s tragic death – he already was thinking of pulling the plug after the ’93 title, possibly as far back as the fall of 1992.

But his sojourn into baseball was inspired largely by his father.Chicago Bulls@chicagobulls

Michael’s No. 1 fan from the beginning.#TheLastDance

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Jordan had played and loved baseball before his basketball fortunes soared. He had seen uber-athletes such as Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders tackle, pretty successfully, their two-sport careers. Still, it was his family’s embrace of baseball and his father’s lessons to do what makes him happy that sent him – naked to a skeptical sports world – down to Birmingham, Alabama, to play for the Class AA Barons in the White Sox system.

Two comments by Jordan at his 1993 retirement news conference 10 weeks after his father’s murder resonated. The first was, “The word ‘retire’ means you can do anything you want.” The second: “He saw my last basketball game.”

From there, as the documentary jumped back and forth in time, James Jordan’s presence was at his son’s side, a wingman to rival Scottie Pippen. Right up to Game 6 of the 1996 Finals against Seattle. Those of us covering that championship series, in which Chicago grabbed a 3-0 lead and then dropped Games 4 and 5 to force a return to United Center, wondered in hindsight if some invisible hand was writing poetry: The clincher was played on Father’s Day, with Jordan and the Bulls snagging their first title without Michael’s dad in the house.

We’ve seen NBA stars crying and emoting when that moment of championship victory really hits them. But Jordan on the trainer’s room floor, sobbing as he hugged the basketball and trying to turn away from the cameras rather than play to them, was a whole ‘nother level of genuine.

3. Pippen’s star turn, minus 1.8 seconds

Working in Minneapolis at the time, the cruel irony of Jordan’s first retirement was immediate: The Timberwolves, oddly amusing but basically awful for their first four years of existence, finally were going to step up to the big time, hosting the 1994 NBA All-Star Game in February.

And now (gulp) it was getting an All-Star Game without Michael Jordan.

That was a parochial outlook, of course. Imagine how Bulls fans felt, having the game’s greatest player take a powder while still in his prime. Both markets were pleasantly surprised.

Pippen had the greatest individual season of his career, leading Chicago to a surprising 55-27 season — c’mon, they’d lost Michael Jordan on the brink of training camp. He finished third in MVP balloting behind Hakeem Olajuwon and David Robinson. And he took care of Twin Cities hoops fans by stepping into Jordan’s role as the star of stars, taking home the All-Star MVP trophy.

Pippen was a different player than Jordan, with a different personality. It clicked with his teammates, too. Yet we’ve been so locked into Jordan’s nasty, pushy, obsessive style of prodding his mates, some of those Bulls sounded a little (dare we say) soft for welcoming the release.

Anyway, the whole dynamic within that team changed in span of 1.8 seconds when Pippen refused to participate at the end of Game 3 of the East semifinals series vs. New York. Coach Phil Jackson had drawn up the play for Toni Kukoc to take the last shot, with Pippen not even out on the court as a decoy. No, he had Pippen — the team’s best passer — inbounding the ball.

After years of being No. 2 to Jordan and then finally moving up in the pecking order, Pippen — as he saw it — was back in a supporting role to the rookie Kukoc (the Euro find of GM Jerry Krause, already an irritant to Pippen).

As right as his reasons might sound now, he was dead wrong. It was fascinating Sunday night to see both the ’94 footage and the looks back from various Bulls on how grown men behaved in the aftermath of being betrayed by one of their own. Oh, and this was after Kukoc actually drained the buzzer beater to temporarily fend off the Knicks.

“He quit on us,” Steve Kerr said. “It was devastating.”

Center Bill Cartwright was so upset when he called out Pippen in the locker room, he cried.

Pippen apologized then and there, and Kerr said the team accepted it. He was ferocious in the final three games of the series, though the Bulls were eliminated.

Pippen’s legacy is secure. He’s in the Hall of Fame, he was named one of the Top 50 players in NBA history in 1997 (when his career had another seven seasons left) and he is widely considered the most important No. 2 ever on an NBA team.

To this day, though, there are replica jerseys in Chicago that, rather than displaying his customary number 33, read “Pippen 1.8.” 

4. Comparing Jordan’s ‘bodies’ of work

So the NBA’s best player went off to play minor league baseball for a season and might have kept going if not for that sports extended labor strife into the spring of 1995.

It was a different look for Jordan to have his bat wagging at curveballs rather than his tongue wagging on dunks. But he looked like his old self throughout, recalling that detour and re-visiting the footage Sunday.

Except he wasn’t. He had traded in his all-world basketball body for one more suited to baseball, and … did we hear much about that at the time?

It seemed back then as if that sliver of a season and postseason from March 1995 through the Bulls’ elimination against Orlando was notable mostly for some echo-stirring performances by Jordan in his comeback. And his brief use of 45 rather than the famous 23 on his Bulls jersey. Turns out, Jordan wasn’t just rusty or too new, Air-dropping in on the reconstituted Chicago roster the way he did.

Jordan had trained to be a baseball player rather than a basketball  player. And he had to physically transform back again.Chicago White Sox@whitesox

Good Guys Wear Black (& Red) #TheLastDance

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“Looking back, I didn’t have enough time to get my body back to a basketball body,” Jordan said.

No offense, perhaps, to young Shaquille O’Neal and Penny Hardaway or former Bull Horace Grant, though good luck getting Jordan to say that.

Jordan’s personal trainer Tim Grover and the Bulls’ Chip Schaefer backed up that explanation. The reflexes, the strength, the agility needed for one sport was significantly different from the other. It might have been more subtle than, say, giving Yankees slugger Aaron Judge, at 6-foot-7 and 280 pounds, a serviceable NBA power forward’s body. But it was real.

This part of the doc showed Jordan taking on his role in “Space Jam” during the summer of 1995, and how driven he was to regain his form. He had the movie studio construct on its lot the “Jordan Dome,” a complete court and gym for his two-hour daily workouts. And then in the evenings, he led top-tier pickup games with NBA talent, both honing his game – and eyeballing theirs. 

5. Don’t look, talk or even breathe at Jordan

Not if you want to have a chance to beat him. Jordan’s penchant for spinning slights — real or concocted — into white-hot motivation got the full treatment Sunday.

We hear all the time in sports that players and teams, well, they might be able to dig a little deeper now and then, plumb the depths of their talents at opportune times and occasionally extend “the zone” in which they find themselves in particularly focused moments. What they’re not supposed to be able to do is flip a switch the way you would if you hit the nitrous oxide on the drag strip.

Except Jordan, apparently. He not only turned instant grudges into remarkable performances, he found ways to conjure them. At which point, he was Bruce Banner going full Hulk mode.

The LaBradford Smith story was early legend. That’s when Jordan got so incensed by the Washington guard’s big scoring night against him in Chicago that he torched Smith the very next night of a back-to-back. But the kicker was Smith’s alleged remark (“Nice game, Mike”) after the first game never happened. Somehow, Jordan convinced himself that it had and got his revenge.

That’s the sort of stuff that drove a wedge between Isiah Thomas and Jordan, and we got lots of it Sunday. There was Nick Anderson’s postgame remark after the Magic won Game 1 of their ’95 playoff series, that “45 isn’t 23.”

There was Seattle coach George Karl’s damned-if-he-did, damned-if-he-didn’t restaurant failure to stop by Jordan’s table to pay homage. Carolina guys? Didn’t matter to Jordan.

“That’s all I needed,” he said. “And it become personal to me.”

And finally a reprise of Jordan’s reaction earlier in the series to a Thomas comment, viewing video on a tablet handed to him. This time it was Gary Payton huffing about how the ’96 Finals might have gone differently had Karl used Payton to defend Jordan before Game 4.

“I kept hitting him and banging him and hitting him and banging him. It took a toll on Mike,” Payton said. “Then the series changed.”

Never mind Jordan’s cackling. The highlight was how he patronizingly said Payton’s nickname, “The Glove” as he handed the tablet back.

But the cackling was pretty good too. 

* * *

Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.

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Testing plans emerge as NBA practice facilities begin to reopen

Roughly half the league could have players working out next week as practice facilities slowly reopen.

MIAMI (AP) — The NBA took tiny steps toward a return to normalcy Friday, as a small number of practice facilities reopened for workouts and at least one team received permission from the league to test players and staff for the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver took part in a teleconference with members of the National Basketball Players Association on Friday night. Silver, according to a person familiar with the call’s details, told players that the league is still aiming to hold full best-of-seven playoff series should the season resume and that playing without fans is an obvious possibility.

Silver also spoke about the well-known notion of having the season resume in a centralized location, though cautioned that no decisions may be made for another several weeks, according to the person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because details of the call were not publicly released.

Cleveland and Portland were open for players who wanted to get voluntary workouts in, with Cavaliers forward Cedi Osman among the first to be back on an NBA practice court since the league ordered those facilities closed seven weeks ago.

“Great to be back,” Osman wrote on Instagram, as he took a selfie standing in what appeared to be an otherwise-empty practice gym.

Another good sign: the Orlando Magic revealed that they have been authorized by health officials in Orange County, Florida to test players and staff. In a letter obtained by AP, Orange County told the Magic it has more than enough testing resources for health-care workers and asymptomatic individuals.

“With the Orange County Department of Health authorization, the NBA has advised us that we are able to have our players tested,” Magic spokesman Joel Glass said.

The Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers are expected to be able to follow suit and test players and staff with the approval of local officials soon as well. Lakers players were tested several weeks ago and two players were positive; Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said last week that all residents of Los Angeles County are now eligible for free testing.

The NBA has yet to implement a full-scale testing program for all teams, a step that must be taken if there is going to be a return to play this season. But the league has also advised teams that they may be permitted to test, with NBA approval, if local health officials say “robust” testing already exists for at-risk healthcare workers in that community and other conditions are met.

The NBA, like other major U.S. leagues, also is trying to avoid any sense that it is jumping the testing line by getting players tested in cities where necessary resources are scarce. Orange County health officer Dr. Raul Pino told the Magic that they can “rest assured” that would not be the case in Orlando.

Toronto said it would welcome players back for workouts starting next week. The Raptors will be using rules even more strict than the NBA mandates right now; only one player will be allowed in the facility at a time, and the court will be the only place open to players. Everything else, including locker rooms and weight rooms, will remain closed.

Other NBA teams, when they open, may have as many as four players in the facility at once.

The Cavaliers and Blazers were the only teams to unlock their practice facilities on Friday.
“We thought this was reasonable,” Raptors general manager Bobby Webster said. “We thought it allowed our guys to start moving and getting out of their apartment a little bit … maybe more for mental health, for them to start shooting and doing things like that. I don’t think it was necessarily compared to the NBA rule. I think it was more something that we developed internally.”

Denver and Sacramento are among the teams planning to reopen for workouts Monday and many more are expected to effort toward reopening facilities for the voluntary workouts in the coming days; roughly half the league could have players working out next week barring any major setbacks or policy changes.

All the Friday news, however, wasn’t good: The Utah Jazz ownership group announced it was furloughing 40% of its staff, the second such move by Larry H. Miller Sports & Entertainment since the NBA suspended its season on March 11.

“With no clear indication of when our businesses can fully reopen, we have made the difficult yet necessary decision to furlough a portion of our employees,” Jim Olsen, the organization’s president, said in a statement. The furloughs affect Jazz employees, workers at the team’s arena, a chain of movie theatres and the Los Angeles Angels’ minor league baseball affiliate in Salt Lake.

And the Charlotte Hornets said that, even though North Carolina is beginning to reopen, they have no plans to bring players back right away. They said the decision will be evaluated on a week-to-week basis.

“We believe this decision is in the best interest of our players, coaches and staff,” the Hornets said.

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LeBron James cannot get the closure he wants on this season, even if the Lakers win a ‘championship’

As the NBA’s coronavirus hiatus approaches the two-month mark, hope remains that the season can still, in some capacity, be finished. Practice facilities, with certain restrictions, are set to re-open in states that have eased stay-at-home guidelines. Enes Kanter of the Boston Celtics told CBS Sports HQ on Friday that commissioner Adam Silver and NBPA executive director Michele Roberts will host a call for all players on Friday, and we’ll see what comes of that.

Any optimism that the season can indeed resume is cautious at best, and testing remains the core issue. Mark Cuban has already said the Mavericks will not open their facility due to an inability to test asymptomatic people, who of course can be facilitators of the virus. As Cuban said on The Athletic’s ’77 Minutes in Heaven’ podcast: “The risk is [not] worth the reward.”

Reward remains an operative term in all this. What does the NBA have to gain by resuming? The answer is money. To be able to get something, anything, on television represents an opportunity to at least partially stem the league’s financial bleeding. Like all professional sports, the NBA is a business disguised as competition. The business can, to some degree, still be salvaged. The competition, for all intents and purposes, cannot.

That doesn’t mean the players, given the opportunity, can’t, or won’t, compete. Of course they will. They will descend upon an isolated venue, file into an empty gym and engage in glorified scrimmages. But whatever comes of those scrimmages will not ultimately matter.

“There’s no getting around the asterisk that will go next to this season,” a former league exec and longtime assistant coach told CBS Sports. “It’s just unfortunate.”

This is the reason the closure LeBron James says he’s hoping to get, as it pertains to this season, does not exist. When LeBron says that, what he’s saying is the Lakers were in a position to compete for a championship, and if games don’t resume, he’ll never know, nobody will ever know, whether they could’ve finished the job.

What I’m saying is we’ll never know that, just as we’ll never know whether Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks could’ve won it all, or whether the Clippers could’ve rounded into the playoff juggernaut they were designed to be and taken home the first Larry O’Brien trophy in franchise history. The conditions under which this season’s “champion” would be crowned will be too altered to be taken seriously.

“Playing without fans, in my experience, that just changes so much about the game,” a league scout told CBS Sports. “I played in Europe. I’ve played in some pretty empty gyms, and it’s tough. I wouldn’t say it’s the most accurate representation of all players. Some will be less affected, but there are a lot of guys who thrive on that energy of the crowd.”

“You hear the word ‘gamer,’ as in, ‘that guy’s a gamer,’ and we know that’s a guy who kind of rises to the occasion,” a Western Conference exec said. “There’s lots of guys like that in the league, where maybe they’re not the same kind of player in practice, but when the lights go on and the crowd gets loud, they become almost a different player.”

Indeed, different players make for different teams, and different teams under different conditions completely negate whatever we think the real teams could, or could not, have accomplished. It’s like comparing LeBron to Michael Jordan. The conditions under which they played were too different to ever be able to answer the question of who was the best to ever do it. You have to look at them separately. And that’s how we’ll have to look at this season. Separately.

Let’s say a group of teams settle into Las Vegas or Walt Disney World and run through some shortened playoff format, perhaps three- or five-game series, perhaps even some kind of one-and-done format, with their sneakers squeaking in empty gyms and half the players out of shape and any kind of team-wide rhythm completely out of whack, and at the end of it all the Lakers win.

Will that banner look the same as the 16 others hanging in the rafters of the Staples Center? Will we honestly be able to say that LeBron has won four titles with a straight face? Without qualification? No chance. The closure doesn’t exist except in the sense that we can all, at some point, officially close the book on the season. But inside that book, the story of this season will forever remain unfinished.

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Kobe Bryant-Michael Jordan connection: What ‘The Last Dance’ doesn’t tell you about their relationship

Moments before the 1998 All-Star Game tipped off, then-NBC announcer Bob Costas introduced Kobe Bryant as “the man many have dubbed ‘the next Michael Jordan.'” Bryant was 19 years old, starting for the Western Conference even though he was still coming off the bench for the Los Angeles Lakers. Jordan was representing the Chicago Bulls in the event for the last time. 

The fifth episode of “The Last Dance,” the 10-part ESPN/Netflix documentary, begins with a dedication: “IN LOVING MEMORY OF KOBE BRYANT.” It features highlights of Jordan and Bryant going at each other at Madison Square Garden and behind-the-scenes footage of Jordan and his Eastern Conference teammates talking about Bryant.

Before his death, Bryant was interviewed for the documentary. In the middle of the All-Star sequence, he looks back on that time and speaks reverentially about Jordan. 

“It was a rough couple of years for me coming into the league,” Bryant says. “‘Cause at the time the league was so much older. It’s not as young as is is today. So nobody was really thinking much of me. I was the kid that shot a bunch of airballs, you know what I mean? And at that point Michael provided a lot of guidance for me. Like, I had a question about shooting his turnaround shot, so I asked him about it. And he gave me a great, detailed answer. But on top of that he said, ‘If you never need anything, give me a call.’

“He’s like my big brother. I truly hate having discussions about who would win one-on-one, or fans saying, ‘Hey, Kob’, you’d beat Michael one-on-one.’ I feel like, yo, what you get from me is from him. I don’t get five championships here without him because he guided me so much and gave me so much great advice.”

There was some tension back then, however. In the locker room at MSG, Jordan says, “That little Laker boy’s going to take everybody one-on-one.”

“I know, right?” Tim Hardaway replies.

“He don’t let the game come to him,” Jordan says. “He just go out there and take it. ‘I’m going to make this s— happen. I’m going to make this a one-on-one game.'”

Off-camera, another All-Star says he figured Bryant would chill after his first four attempts.

“After his first four attempts?” Jordan says. “If I was his teammates I wouldn’t pass him the f—in’ ball. You want this ball again, brother, you better rebound.”

Here’s what “The Last Dance” doesn’t tell you about that night and the relationship between Jordan and Bryant. 

Jordan was sick in New York

There is a brief exchange between Jordan and Eastern Conference coach Larry Bird at the team photoshoot, in which Bird says, ‘So, you’re feeling all right, huh?” The documentary does not explain, however, that Jordan had the flu leading up to the All-Star Game. He missed practice and was listed as questionable before the game.

Bird told Newsday‘s Mike Gavin in 2015 that Jordan was clearly still sick on the bus to the arena, but Bryant got him going: “Kobe was trying to go after Michael early. And Michael started going back at him.”

During the game, Ahmad Rashad interviewed Jordan on the bench. “He’s being very, very aggressive,” Jordan said on the broadcast. “If I knew someone was sick, certainly the first thing I’d do, I’d go after someone. But I’ve gotta defend myself. You know, he’s gotta play defense just like I gotta play defense.” He also said that he hadn’t been near a basketball for three or four days. 

Jordan finished with a game-high 23 points on 10 for 18 shooting, plus eight assists, six rebounds, three steals and his third All-Star Game MVP award. Bryant had 18 points, the most of any West player, on 7 for 16 shooting, plus one assist, three rebounds and two steals. 

“I really didn’t expect to come in here and win the MVP award,” Jordan said that night. “I just wanted to make sure Kobe didn’t dominate me. 

“It was a good battle. It was fun. He attacked. The hype was me vs. him. I knew I wasn’t 100 percent and he was, and he was biting at the bit. I’m just glad that I was able to fight him off.” 

Not everybody loved Bryant’s approach

The Michael vs. Kobe storyline started before the game did, even though one of them was near his 35th birthday and the other only 19 years old. In the press, Bryant downplayed it, per “Showboat: The Life of Kobe Bryant,” by Roland Lazenby:

The dominant question, repeated often, was a request for Bryant to compare himself with Jordan. “There aren’t any similarities,” the teenager replied, “other than we’re both six-six and we rely on athletic ability. I mean, he’s Michael Jordan.”

“I wanted eventually to be one of the best players in the league,” Bryant would say, looking back two years later. “I just didn’t know that other people would urge me to be that right away. Everybody was expecting me to be the next Michael. I thought I was going to sneak through the back door.” 

Bryant did not act so humble on the court. He famously waved off a screen from Karl Malone, angering the veteran, and Western Conference coach George Karl kept Bryant on the bench for the entire fourth quarter. 

“It’s a team game,” Karl told reporters, via Lazenby. “Kobe made some great plays, but Michael and the East made better basketball decisions. Kobe will probably have the opportunity to come back here and add more ‘simple’ to what he’s doing.”

Bryant used the benching as motivation when facing Karl’s Denver Nuggets in the 2008, 2009 and 2012 playoffs, he told Darius Miles and Quentin Richardson on the Knuckleheads podcast last September.

Jordan and Bryant’s relationship was complicated

As “The Last Dance” illustrates, Bryant was unafraid to be competitive with Jordan right away, but there was always mutual respect. Bryant modeled his game after Jordan’s and leaned on him as a mentor. Jordan talked about this during his teary, unforgettable speech at Bryant’s memorial:

“He wanted to be the best basketball player that he could be,” Jordan said that day at Staples Center. “And as I got to know him, I wanted to be the best big brother that I could be. To do that, you have to put up with the aggravation, the late-night calls or the dumb questions. I took great pride, as I got to know Kobe Bryant, that he was just trying to be a better person, a better basketball player. We talked about business, we talked about family, we talked about everything.” 

In the documentary, when Bryant mentions asking Jordan about his turnaround jumper and Jordan saying he can call anytime, he is referring to a game in December of his second season, a couple of months before that All-Star Game at MSG. Bryant scored 33 points off the bench and Jordan had 36 in the Bulls’ 104-83 victory. Scottie Pippen and Shaquille O’Neal were both out with injuries, adding to the Michael-against-Kobe vibe. 

“In the fourth quarter of that game, he asked me about my post-up move, in terms of, ‘Do you keep your legs wide? Or do you keep your legs tight?’ It was kind of shocking,” Jordan said, via Lazenby. “I felt like an old guy when he asked me that. I told him on the offensive end you always try to feel and see where the defensive player is. In the post-up on my turnaround jump shot, I always use my legs to feel where the defense is playing so I can react to the defense.”

He might have been dispensing advice, but, just like at the All-Star Game, Jordan wanted the world to know he was the best player on the planet. 

“Michael loves this stuff,” Bulls guard Ron Harper said, via Lazenby. “[Kobe] is a very young player who someday may take his throne, but I don’t think Michael’s ready to give up his throne yet. He came out to show everybody that he’s Air Jordan still.” 

Bryant told ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan in 2016 that he peppered Jordan with questions about post defense when the next season was delayed by a lockout: “Speaking to M.J. was like getting my own college education at the highest level.”

The endless comparisons, however, made the relationship more complex than it seems in “The Last Dance.” Yes, Bryant copied “damn near 100 percent” of Jordan’s technique, Bryant told Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck in 2017, but in a 2014 story from the same outlet, Kevin Ding wrote that there was a time when asking him about Jordan might elicit an eye roll. 

“The thing that I always bristled at was the notion that I learned everything that I know from Michael,” Bryant told Ding. “That’s just not true. Hakeem Olajuwon deserves a lot of credit; Jerry West deserves a lot of credit. Oscar Robertson deserves a lot of credit. I really was a student of the game and watched everybody.”

In 2010, Bryant told Adrian Wojnarowski that he got his mentality from Michael Jackson, not Jordan. In an ESPN column after Bryant’s death, Wojnarowski wrote that Bryant had felt slighted because Jordan had left him off “some sort of list of great players.” 

The first time Bryant noticed Jordan, he hadn’t turned six yet. Jordan was playing for the United States’ national team in 1984, preparing for the Olympics with a series of games against pros.

“This guy dribbles on the fast break and took off — I think it was over Magic — and dunked and flew past Magic,” Bryant said, via Lazenby. “That’s not supposed to happen. Who was this kid? I don’t like this kid ’cause Magic was my guy. I think that’s the first time I saw him.”

As strange as it sounds given how Bryant’s game developed, Lazenby wrote that “the unquestioned star of the Bryant household during Kobe’s young life was Magic Johnson.” 

In the same biography, however, legendary shoe executive Sonny Vaccaro recalls recruiting Bryant for Adidas and noticing that Bryant was adopting Jordan’s mannerisms. Bryant shaved his head and even sounded more like Jordan when he talked. Adidas’ message was that he would be the next Jordan, and it had apparently sunk in. 

Vaccaro also recalled Bryant saying, “I’m going to be better than he is.”

Bryant was studying and mimicking Jordan, but Peter Moore, then Adidas’ creative director, said he made it known that “wanted to be his own icon,” even before he played an NBA game. 

In a January 2000 game against the Nuggets, Bryant hit his first eight shots and scored 27 points in the first half with Jordan watching from a suite. Bryant told reporters that he knew Jordan was in attendance, but when asked if he raised his game because of it, smiled and said, “Nope.” Phil Jackson arranged a meeting between the two of them, and later said in an interview on Fox Sports Live that the first thing Bryant said was, “I could kick your ass one-on-one.”

In his interview with Ding, Bryant categorized that as “mythology” and said that whenever he and Jordan talked trash, Jordan initiated it. But this could very well be the same meeting Jordan described at Bryant’s memorial, in which he walked into the room and Bryant immediately asked if he’d brought his basketball shoes with him.

In Michael Leahy’s book “When Nothing Else Matters,” Jordan is described as vacillating “between the roles of mentor and rival for Bryant.” Jordan counseled him about the triangle offense on Jackson’s behalf, but could get irritated with reporters who asked him about Bryant, particularly if he perceived that they were implying the two were on the same level in their respective primes. 

The Washington weirdness

As a Washington Wizards executive, Jordan was frustrated by the way the league’s new stars were being discussed. In an interview with Leahy that foreshadowed his comeback, he directly mentioned Bryant:

He betrayed the anxiety of a deity who worried about his legend slowly receding. “I don’t want to sound bitter or old or whatever,” he muttered. “I’m just saying that when Michael Jordan is not playing –” He abruptly stopped himself, only then seeing where he wanted to go with this, thinking of the buzz surrounding the Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant. “If a guy — for instance, the other night, Kobe Bryant scores 51 points. Now that is a huge story. And then comparisons start to be made to Michael Jordan. But people tend to forget that Michael Jordan scored 50-plus points three games in a row. You understand my whole point? … People tend to migrate to the [current] player because two years have elapsed from seeing Michael Jordan on the basketball court.”

And then there was this story, leaked by Jordan’s camp:

Jordan had much the same kind of relationship with Kobe Bryant that he had with many young stars, giving advice when asked. For a long while, Bryant had ravenously absorbed every suggestion. But given each man’s nature, it was inevitable, as Bryant matured and needed Jordan’s pointers less, that something said by one would sometimes push the competitive buttons of the other. Bryant had listened coolly once, during Jordan’s executive days, when the mentor lectured him on defensive techniques. It was a day when Jordan bantered lightly about the fantasy of playing again. Chuckling, Bryant responded, “Stay upstairs, old man. You’ll have more fun upstairs.” 

Jordan and Bryant’s final matchup was In March 2003, near the end of Jordan’s actual last dance. Bryant scored 55 points against Jordan’s Wizards, including 42 in the first half:Los Angeles Lakers✔@Lakers

17 years ago today: Kobe drops 55 in his final battle with Michael Jordan

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According to Gilbert Arenas, Bryant was trying to prove a point. On the No Chill podcast, Arenas said that, following Washington’s win against Los Angeles earlier in the season, Jordan told Bryant that he could put Jordan’s shoes on, but would never fill them.

There was a time, however, when Bryant wanted to play for the Wizards because of Jordan’s presence. They were never going to be teammates, but in 2015 Michael Lee, then of the Washington Post, reported that Bryant had told Jordan multiple times that he wanted to join the team after Jordan retired for good. (This was back when Bryant was feuding with Shaquille O’Neal and everybody assumed Jordan would return to his former role in D.C.)

“I’ve always been very big on having mentors, on having muses and I’ve been really, really big on that,” Bryant told Lee. “Being around guys who have done it before and done it at a high level and always tried to pick their brains and always tried to absorb knowledge. Obviously, being in that situation [with the Wizards], it would’ve helped having to be around him every day and so on.”

Bryant said he was certain they would have won titles together. And according to a source close to Jordan, had he been running the team in 2004, Jordan was confident that Bryant would have signed with Washington as a free agent.

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Mavericks Tried To Sign Michael Jordan In 2001

The Dallas Mavericks tried to sign Michael Jordan when he returned to the NBA for a second time and joined the Washington Wizards.

“I do have one Michael Jordan story,” said Cuban. “The day he signed with the Washington Wizards to come back, right when I was buying the Mavs, David Falk said, ‘Why don’t you go meet him?’

“So I went to David Falk’s office and all the papers were there and I was trying to convince him not to sign them and to do something with the Mavs.”

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Steve Kerr ‘Not Proud Of’ Fight With Michael Jordan

The next episode of “The Last Dance” will feature a practice scuffle between Michael Jordan and Steve Kerr. 

“It’s not something I’m proud of,” Kerr said of the incident. “It is something that happens from time to time on most teams during the season. Guys get into it during practice. It’s just part of high-level competition. But it’s very, very strange to know everybody’s hearing this story and talking about it and then I’m going to be on camera talking about it. Michael is. And people are going to be examining this whole thing.

“It’s like there’s a reason camera crews generally aren’t given that type of access. Now, I don’t think there was any footage of that fight, because that didn’t happen in ’98, but just unearthing it all and talking about it is not a lot of fun.”

Kerr and Jordan have never spoken about the incident since it occurred two decades ago.

“He called me later that day and apologized,” Kerr said. “In a strange way, it was almost a necessary step in our relationship, in a weird way. And from then on, I think he understood me a lot better and vice versa. And we got along much better and competed together and I think he trusted me more. So it was actually sort of, in the end, it was all good. But we’ve never talked about it since. To be honest, I don’t ever think about it, but I get asked about it because it’s a unique [situation].”