Tag:Michael Jordan
Posted on: August 18, 2011 11:12 am
Edited on: August 18, 2011 11:13 am

Michael Jordan violates gag order?

By Matt Moore

So the NBA has this thing they're pretty particular about. They don't want anyone on their side of the table talking about players. Not coaches, not PR reps, not trainers, not management, not owners, no one. It's a total gag rule. They've threatened massive fines for violations of this rule from David Stern, and David Kahn has reportedly felt the wrath already. Now? It looks like the Greatest of All-Time is headed for a lightening of his wallet. Michael Jordan spoke with Australian newspaper the Herald Sun and had a nice long chat with them about the lockout, what the owners want... and Andrew Bogut
"We have stars like Bogut who are entitled to certain type of demands. But for us to be profitable in small markets, we have to be able to win ballgames and build a better basketball team."

"Bogut is a good piece to build around for Milwaukee," Jordan said.

"I love Bogut's game. He's made a very good start and he's definitely gonna be a star. His big problem is that he's been dealing with that elbow injury. But he is a star to be reckoned with (and) will be a star for some time."
via Michael Jordan airs Andrew Bogut issue | Herald Sun.

That's three different mentions of He Who Must Not Be Named Along With The Rest Of His Union. This in addition to Jordan talking not only about the owners' goals in the lockout, but about revenue sharing. That's not going to make the Commissioner happy, even on his vacation.  

The whole rule seems a little silly. You don't want to compromise your bargaining position, sure. But Jordan made a comment about a man who exists to a newspaper in the guy's home country. He's not giving up the farm in negotiations (though talking about how important revenue sharing is when the owners want to keep it off the table until the rest of the CBA is settled is probably not the most favorite thing for the NBA). There shouldn't be any big deal about this.

Then again, that's kind of what's been going on with this lockout. Making everything into a huge deal.  

(HT: SI)
Posted on: August 12, 2011 11:40 pm
Edited on: August 13, 2011 12:00 am

Video: Dennis Rodman Hall of Fame speech

By Matt Moore

Dennis Rodman 2011 Hall Of Fame Speech (VIDEO) by 3030fm

Video via Jose3030 on Twitter. 

Dennis Rodman was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame Friday night, and did not disappoint. After a wardrobe change, we kid you not, Rodman took to the podium in tears and forced his way through an emotional and contrite speech. He specifically targeted himself as having failed as a husband, son, and father. He said his one true regret was that he wished he'd been a better father. He spoke of the eccentric wardrobe and behavior and how it was an exterior to express his desire to be a colorful individual. 

It was an at-times disjointed speech, but filled with emotion, a true appreciation of the accomplishment and love for the game.  It was at once truly fitting of Rodman's career and a stark contrast to Michael Jordan's bitter pettiness-fueled tirade two years ago. Rodman in particular spoke of both Chuck Daly and his presenter, Phil Jackson, along with Jordan and Pippen. Rodman seemed truly overwhelmed by the moment, putting aside his excessive behavior (outside of two nose rings and a lip ring, and gave a speech worth remembering. It doesn't change who Rodman has been, or who he will be, but it does cement the fact that Rodman belongs here, among players like Artis Gilmore and coaches like Tex Winter. 

The Worm is in the Hall, and he went in on his own terms as you could have guessed.
Posted on: August 11, 2011 10:50 am
Edited on: August 11, 2011 11:07 am

Dennis Rodman is going to HOF in a helicopter

By Matt Moore

Dennis Rodman has mellowed with age. He's not as over-the-top, even if he does do or say some outlandish things. He's matured, and his behavior has mutured with him. His induction to the Hall of Fame Friday should be a classy affair that shows the true side of a complicated player and one of the best rebounders of all time, and should give Rodman a platform to show just how classy he can be. 

Ha! Just kidding. It's Rodman. Come on.

The Miami Herald reports:
The lighter side: Aventura’s Dennis Rodman told us Tuesday he will arrive at his Basketball Hall of Fame induction Friday by helicopter. He wanted to enter the Hall on a colorful float, “but they wouldn’t let me block off the street” in Springfield, Mass.

He said he will hire acrobats to perform and “a couple of my outfits will be ‘out there.’ Whatever might be too zany is not too zany.” His marketing agent, Floyd Ragland, said Rodman is spending $60,000 to fly in Penny Marshall, Howard Stern and other friends. Phil Jackson is Rodman’s presenter.
via UM clarifies cornerback situation; Dolphins' RB picture takes shape - Sports Buzz - MiamiHerald.com.

As good, or, depending on how you see it, as bad as Michael Jordan's induction speech was, Rodman's has to be the most highly anticipated, if only because you have absolutely no way to predict how far out there he will go.

Acrobats? Who wakes up in the morning and is like "Wait, I got it. You know what my Hall of Fame induction needs? Acrobats. And since I can't charter a float, I'll get a helicopter. Get me Howard Stern!" Answer: Dennis Rodman.

There are questions about whether Rodman belongs in the Hall based off his lack of offense. And, just as readily, there are those who want to defend the inclusion based on his non-scoring contributions. It's become very popular to pretty much throw out the ability to score in analysis and just focus on defense, rebounding, and efficiency, as if actual points scored don't matter in a game decided by comparative number of points. But even beyond the question of non-offensive roleplayers in the Hall is this, Rodman could score. He took less of a scoring role over time and his percentages were terrible, but after watching a Pistons game from Rodman's early years with Detroite recently, I was surprised by his ability to finish in transition and to collect clean-up buckets. Rodman elected to move his career more towards those compimentary things, realizing he could be elite in those areas versus possibly just solid in several if he tried to diversify. In short, he chose to be a roleplayer, a supporting guy, and those players are just as important as flashy players. That Rodman did them better than anyone before or since should really only cement his status in the Hall, not justify it. Rodman could do many things. He chose to do important ones. 

Like ride in helicopters with acrobats.
Posted on: August 6, 2011 1:55 pm
Edited on: August 6, 2011 2:51 pm

Legend vs. Star: Michael Jordan vs. Kobe Bryant

Posted by Ben Golliver


We live in an immediate society. The internet, social media, the ever-accelerating news cycle, everything means that the next 30 seconds is 10 times more important than the last 30 seconds regardless of what actually happened in the past 30 seconds. As a result, we lose perspective on what stands truly relevant from the past. The NBA is no exception. So in an attempt to merge the two worlds (since, as a blog, we love/hate/want to be BFFs within the next 30 seconds), we'll be bringing you a look at players past and present, in relation to one another. 

Previously: Isiah Thomas vs. Chris Paul | Larry Bird vs. Dirk Nowitzki 

Now up: Michael Jordan vs. Kobe Bryant


We were all so busy gleefully burying the Miami Heat after they lost to the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals that we missed out on acknowledging a crucial bit of basketball history: The 2010-2011 season will likely go down as the year Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant saw his best argument for becoming "Better than Michael Jordan" slip away for good.

When we talk numbers, awards, memories, legacy and fame, the Jordan vs. Bryant debate is dead on arrival. Really, debating Jordan vs. anyone in these categories isn't worth the time. Jordan's statistics are absurdly better than Bryant's; his switch-hand lay-up, shoulder shrug and stepback jumper to beat the Utah Jazz all trump any Bryant highlight; he was a significantly bigger worldwide star and one of the single greatest forces in globalizing the game; the Jumpman logo only becomes more ubiquitous by the year. Bryant has scored fewer points, grabbed fewer rebounds and dished fewer assists per game both in the regular season and the playoffs. He's sold fewer sneakers and touched fewer hearts. He's won fewer MVPs, Finals MVPs and scoring titles. There's not much argument.

Honestly, Bryant doesn't really deserve to be mentioned in a debate with Jordan, except for one fact: he had the chance to accumulate more titles. Winning in bulk will always get star players put up on a pedestal. 

Because Bryant skipped high school and didn't take two seasons off to play baseball, his argument for toppling Jordan has always relied on accumulation. He stands a very good chance of finishing higher than Jordan on the all-time points list, for example, an accomplishment he has reportedly been eying. But educated fans and the populous at large will both see through that accomplishment and conclude that more total points doesn't mean a better player. Not when Jordan averaged roughly five points more per game than Bryant over their careers and eight points more per game in the playoffs. Not when Jordan shot more than four percent better from the field for their careers. Not when Jordan's best scoring year (37.1 points per game in 1986-1987) was better than Bryant's best scoring year (35.4 points per game in 2005-2006). Not when Jordan won 10 scoring title's to Bryant's two. Not with Bryant getting essentially a five-year head start on accumulating thanks to Jordan's years in college and in the Chicago White Sox organization. When Bryant passes Jordan on the scoring list it will stand as a testament to his durability, consistency, determination, pure scoring instinct and will. But it won't make him better than Jordan. 

(Career statistical comparison courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com, click image to enlage)


Instead, Bryant will get lumped in with two other great accumulators: Lakers center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Utah Jazz forward Karl Malone. Both sit above Jordan on the all-time list. Neither player is seriously and regularly mentioned in the conversation as the Greatest Of All Time, and neither is considered in Jordan's league as a pure scorer. 

It's not the scoring accumulation that would have propelled Bryant past Jordan. It was the accumulation of titles. And how quickly the narrative on that front has changed.

Bryant and the Lakers entered the 2011 playoffs intent on capturing the sixth title of his career. That number would have equalled Jordan's mark, but winning this year wouldn't have been enough to push Bryant past Jordan in this debate. Anyone coming to claim the throne has to make an overwhelming case for it. Bryant can't just match the level of greatness, he has to surpass it in such a way that his actions created the momentum needed to change minds and opinions that have been fixed for more than a decade. 

Unfortunately, Bryant has to deal with some undertow on the winning front. His Lakers twice lost in the Finals, first to an over-achieving Detroit Pistons team and later to a hard-nosed Boston Celtics team. Jordan, of course, was a perfect 6-0 in the NBA Finals. Not only did he never lose a Finals, much less lose one in five games like Bryant did, Jordan was never even pushed to seven games. 

It's not just the losses that count against Bryant. Some people hold the early wins against him, too. After all, Jordan never had or needed a dominant center like Shaquille O'Neal to win his titles. O'Neal was the Finals MVP for each of Bryant's first three titles while Jordan was the MVP for all six of his wins. Although it's not totally fair, because winning is winning, Bryant's second fiddle role early on works against him in the historical debate.

(Playoff statistical comparison courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com, click image to enlage)


To overcome Jordan's 6-0 record and six Finals MVP, Bryant needed to accumulate an overwhelming case. And that's precisely why this year was so important. Had the Lakers taken home the title, Bryant would have his six rings as he approaches age 33. Jordan played until he was almost 40 but Bryant likely doesn't have that many years left. Assuming he can hang on for another four or five seasons, though, there would have been a very decent chance that he could pull one, if not two, more titles out of the hat. Bryant had a chance to go heights that not even Air Jordan had ascended.

Getting to a career Finals record of 8-2 with five Finals MVPs would have been ideal. It would have stood as a testament of Bryant's ability to win with a variety of teammates and at all different points of his career. The extra rings would have made up for the Finals slip-ups and his MVP total would have put him in Jordan's ballpark. Ultimately, eight rings would have left him being considered as the game's second greatest winner all-time, behind Boston Celtics center Bill Russell. It would have helped address the questions about him being a "gunner". It would have buried all the arguments about his ego fracturing the early Lakers and it would have diminished the role that O'Neal played in his overall career accomplishments. Most importantly, it would have put real distance between himself and Jordan. Jordan diehards respect winning and Bryant simply would have won more than Jordan, by a significant amount. 

That narrative got wrecked hard, though, thanks to a coordinated attack from the Dallas Mavericks and a dual meltdown by Ron Artest and Andrew Bynum. Bynum didn't just send J. J. Barea tumbling to the floor with his cheapshot, he flung Bryant's "Better than Jordan" resume into a bonfire.

With the Heat and Thunder clearly rising and the Lakers againg -- and seemingly fracturing -- this offseason, there are real questions now about whether Bryant will get another crack at a title. It's hard to bet totally against his chances, what with the Lakers making the NBA Finals in seven of the past 11 seasons, but his winning ceiling has been lowered, without question. He might get another one, but there's no way he's getting three, not even if the Lakers pull off a transformational trade for a superstar.

We haven't seen Bryant's last days, not by a longshot, but his legacy is now all but secure. Top-10 all-time NBA player. Second best two-guard.
Posted on: August 5, 2011 2:40 pm

Magic says '92 Dream Team would crush '08

By Matt Moore

Here's a fun one. Let's take the greatest collection of NBA talent ever assembled, based on production, historical legacy, the convenient exaggeration provided by time, and "Oh My God" factor of ability and then throw them up against the 2008 version of that team, hampered by a lack of said historical perspective, the absence of the greatest player of all time, coming just months after arguably the three greatest players eligible to play for said team were eliminated in embarassing fashion. How does that work out? 

In short order, the 1992 U.S. Olympic Men's Basketball Team, AKA "The Dream Team" was better than the 2008 U.S. Olympic Men's Basketball Team, AKA "The Redeem Team."

Shocking, I know.

But that's the story today, straight from the point guard's mouth, as Magic Johnson spoke about the team and how it compares to the most recent squad. Video courtesy of the L.A. Times, along with the subsequent quote from the Magic Man:

"When you think about the Olympics and the Dream Team, I have to throw it to you," Johnson said. "Kobe [Bryant] and them won by 22 points. Ehh, 22 points? We won by an average of 44 points. So when they want to step up to that, you tell them we'll be waiting on them."
via Magic Johnson discusses Dream Team's superiority to Redeem Team - latimes.com.

Well, then, Earvin. Way to go out on a limb.

Johnson's right, of course. But using margin of victory? That's a pretty thin construct. Jack McCallum used a much better system for establishing Dream Team I's dominance.  There's any number of ways to prove it. But margin of victory? The international basketball community is quite a bit better now than it was back in '92 and if you want proof of that take a look at the Gasol brothers and the Finals MVP. But beyond that? The ability to run it up should never be used to determine the gap between two clubs. It's an insignificant detail and Magic, who came from an era that focused on wins and losses more than statistical production far more than the balance does now should be aware that the scoreboard doesn't always tell the story. 

At the same time... come on. Jordan. Magic. Bird. And whether it's a lack of perspective due to recency, the glorified impact of legacy for those players as undisupted Hall of Famers while Kobe Bryant is still writing his story, let alone the younger crew on Redeem Team '08, the fact remains. Primacy. The first to come will always make the greatest impact. There will be those who will always say Russell or Wilt was better than Shaq or Hakeem (and they probably were, based on all the evidence they have) simply based on their appearance coming sooner in the collective history of the sports. And so every Dream Team will live in the first's shadow, just as every talented perimeter player will live in Jordan's.

It's a no-win proposition, but hey. It makes for a fun story to think about on a slow day.

And no matter how you feel about it, Bird checking James and vice versa sounds like a fun watch.  
Posted on: August 3, 2011 7:32 pm
Edited on: August 3, 2011 7:43 pm

NBA 2K12 to feature 15 basketball legends

Posted by Ben Golliver


A few weeks back, we noted that a trio of NBA legends -- Chicago Bulls guard Michael Jordan, Los Angeles Lakers guard Magic Johnson and Boston Celtics forward Larry Bird -- would grace commemoratice covers of this year's NBA 2K12 video game. It turns out those three won't be the only legendary basketball players to be featured in this year's game.

IGN.com reports that NBA 2K12 will feature a game mode called "NBA's Greatest" which will allow the user to play through 15 historic games and control 15 basketball legends. "His Airness is back," a trailer for the game declares. "This time he brought friends."
Players announced so far are: Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Julius "Dr. J" Erving, plus 10 other legends to be announced in the coming weeks. The historic games feature the entire team rosters, accurate stadiums, and are presented to look like TV broadcasts from their respective era. 

To add icing to the cake, the classic teams can be unlocked and played in game against contemporary lineups. Kobe vs. Kareem. Dr. J vs. KG. Jordan vs. LBbron. 

"There's the age old debate how players and teams from today would compare with teams of yesterday," said Jason Argent, vice president of marketing for 2K Sports. "We want to settle that debate." 
We can all breathe a sign of relief that Abdul-Jabbar made the cut. Lord knows he wouldn't have taken a snubbing very well after not immediately getting a statue at Staples Center like he has demanded.

While the other ten names on the list haven't been announced yet, here's who I would pick, in no particular order. Note: We're looking for video game fun and a good diversity of eras here. Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Oscar Robertson, Pete Maravich, Jerry West, Hakeem Olajuwon, Shaquille O'Neal, Charles Barkley, Isiah Thomas and Elgin Baylor. Honorable mention goes to guys like Walt Frazier, Earl Monroe, Moses Malone and Bernard King. 

As for the snubs? Willis Reed's return from injury needs to be included in the most memorable games list somehow and it's difficult to leave off guys like John Havlicek, David Robinson, Bob Cousy, George Mikan, John Stockton and Karl Malone.

Here's a promotional video trailer of the game courtesy of IGM.com. NBA 2K12 is set to be released on Oct. 4, 2011.

Images above taken from video trailer
Posted on: July 29, 2011 4:23 pm
Edited on: July 29, 2011 4:41 pm

Michael Jordan's advice for Tiger Woods

Posted by Ben Golliver


We can all agree that disgraced golfer Tiger Woods is a mess right now. There's not much point in rubbing in that fact as his career is in shambles, his marriage was dissolved and his health is touch-and-go.

But none of that stopped Charlotte Bobcats owner and NBA legend Michael Jordan from calling Woods "very fragile" and comparing him to a "wounded dog" in an interview with Australia's Herald Sun.

Jordan is uniquely qualified to give advice to Woods for at least three reasons. One: Because he understands how to deal with fame at its highest level. Two: Because he understands that elite athletes are still human and their private lives affect their on-court performance. Three: Because he is friendly with Woods and certainly commands his respect.

So what is the greatest basketball player of all time's current for the potential greatest golfer of all time? Turn the game into therapy.
"The biggest thing is that I've always - and I'm pretty sure Tiger has, too - used sport as a therapeutic tool," he said. "Once you're inside the lines, you can focus on what your jobs are and what you're doing on the court, or for him the course.

"The problem for him was that he wasn't physically capable of getting inside those lines and doing those things. I think he's been somewhat fragile mentally and physically. When I went through those [personal] issues, once I got on to the basketball court that became a therapeutic thing for me where I was able to forget all those other things."

"Once I finished playing basketball, I came out with a better understanding of the decisions I had to make. He doesn't have that now. Now he's going through something that's totally different, totally new for him and he's now acknowledging that. He needs to get healthy, mentally and physically, before he can really attack that."

Jordan was a notoriously competitive player and someone who never settled for anything short of peak performance from himself and his teammates. Here, his advice is sound.

But in the reference to a "wounded dog" and the use of the word "fragile" I vaguely detect a hint of Jordan the teammate and competitor rather than Jordan the big brother and mentor. Like the rest of us, Jordan knows that Woods is capable of so much more than he's shown recently. Like the rest of us, Jordan likely wants to watch that greatness unfold.

Sometimes competitors with lengthy, winning track records simply need to find a way to rededicate themselves, to rekindle their spark. Sometimes they simply need a new challenge or a new challenger. Perhaps Jordan is stepping into that role for Woods.
Posted on: July 22, 2011 10:32 am
Edited on: July 22, 2011 10:51 am

Jackson: Kobe wants to pass Jordan in scoring

By Matt Moore

Kobe Bryant will forever be compared to Michael Jordan. From position to style to legacy, Bryant will never make it out of a discussion about his place in the league's history without a reference to the G.O.A.T. It's simply inescapable.

And Bryant being Bryant (or Kobe being Kobe), he'll always want to try and surpass Jordan, even if it's unlikely, given all factors. And as the Los Angeles Times reports, someone who knows Bryant very well says he's focused on topping M.J. on the scoring list.
When I asked the former Lakers coach last season which player Bryant wants to pass on the scoring list the most, Jackson replied without hesitation, "Michael Jordan." Bryant argued that wasn't true and continued touting his sole motivation entails trying to minimize the gap between Bill Russell's 11 NBA titles and his own five. Bryant isn't lying when he says that's his main motivation, but it's misleading to act indifferent about it when teammates, media and the general public know he's driven to be the best player ever.
via NBA lockout: How will work stoppage affect Kobe Bryant's scoring? - latimes.com

The Times goes through exactly how many more points Bryant can reasonably expect to score in a variety of scenarios dependent on different outcomes of the lockout and the end of Kobe's career.

But more importantly, this anecdote provides a pretty clear illustration of the obsession that drives Bryant. It's not enough to be one of the best players of all time, it's not enough to have five championships, it's not enough to be mentioned in the same context as the greatest. Bryant wants to pass Jordan.

The problem is that in doing so, he only levees more comparisons he'll never live up to. Passing Jordan in points won't make him seem greater than Jordan, even beyond the fact that Bryant played more seasons. Even winning a sixth ring won't. Jordan is too much an integral part of basketball fans' identity, too much of a cultural icon. 

But passing Jordan will continue to keep Bryant in the conversation and further the debate. And even being in the debate? That's proof of how unbelievable Bryant's career has been. 

Or, to put it in Laker fans terms, "Yo, Kobe rules!"

(HT: SLAMonline.com)
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