Maybe Jordan was not suspended from basketball for gambling, maybe he just liked baseball

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NBA_jordan.jpgMichael Jordan went to play baseball as a quiet suspension for his gambling activities. It’s an accepted truth in America, right up there with the man on the grassy knoll and the aliens at Area 51.

Except that maybe it’s not true. None of it. Especially the MJ part.

Tuesday night the latest in ESPN’s fantastic “30 for 30” series continues with “Jordan Rides the Bus” about MJ’s time — at the peak of his basketball career — that he left to play minor league baseball.

The rumors have been for years that Jordan walked only because David Stern was punishing him for his gambling ties. But Ron Shelton — the director of the new documentary — said he looked into it, and told the Chicago Tribune there was no truth to it.

“I probably, like most people in America, thought he left the NBA for a year because of gambling,” Shelton told us Monday. “After researching the project, I was utterly convinced that was nonsense. And probably like most people, I thought he was a catastrophically bad baseball player. And after researching it, I got a different view about that, as well….”

“Everybody that I talked to said they spent hundreds of hours looking for smoking guns and there is not even a leak; it’s just circumstantial. It’s just a theory,” he said.

Jordan is a personality that needs a challenge in front of him. After a three-peat with the Bulls, was the NBA still a challenge? Throw in that Jordan’s father, a huge baseball fan, had just been murdered and you start to see more logical pieces fall together. Jordan had the emotional ties to baseball, something rekindled by his father’s death, and he needed a new challenge.

But that’s no fun. It’s more logical that there was some grand conspiracy that was covered up. That the CIA moved and switched JFK’s body, but nobody ever talked in an era when we know all the cold war secrets of that era. That the same government incapable of tripping over its own feet can keep an alien spacecraft and the bodies of extra-terrestrials secret in the desert for 50 years.

Maybe Jordan just wanted to play baseball. Why is that so hard to believe?

Lou Williams hits halfcourt buzzer-beater (video)

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Yeah, the Lakers lost to the Rockets, 134-95, Wednesday. But consider how lopsided that margin would’ve been without Lou Williams‘ halfcourt buzzer-beater.

And if this headline looks familiar, it is.

LeBron James, Cavaliers do water-bottle challenge on bench during blowout win over Knicks (video)

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James, left, and Cavaliers forward Richard Jefferson entertain themselves by flipping a water bottle trying to get it to land on it's flat bottom during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden in New York, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016. The Cavaliers defeated the Knicks 126-94, and most starters left the game for the bench at the end of the fourth quarter. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
AP Photo/Kathy Willens
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LeBron James did his part – scoring 25 points (on just 10 shots!), dishing seven assists and grabbing six rebounds – to give the Cavaliers an insurmountable lead over the Knicks through three quarters. So, he didn’t even play in the fourth quarter.

As Cleveland put the finishing touches on its 126-94 win, boredom set it. LeBron and a few of his teammates tried to flip a water bottle and have it land upright on the floor. LeBron even dove onto the court to pull the bottle back in after an errant flip!

No, Phil Jackson should not have used the word “posse” to describe LeBron’s business associates and friends. But this is the most disrespectful thing I’ve ever seen – and I love it.

DeMarcus Cousins says Mavericks’ rumored interest flatters him, but he loves Kings

Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins (15) receives a blow to the head from Dallas Mavericks' Dwight Powell as Cousins works to get to the basket in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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The Mavericks’ long-rumored interest in DeMarcus Cousins took its most direct public turn before the season, when Dallas signed Cousins’ brother, Jaleel Cousins. Jaleel is now on the Mavericks’ D-League affiliate, and I bet he will remain there as DeMarcus approaches 2018 free agency.

Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News:

So, DeMarcus Cousins, what do you think about the Mavericks’ long-rumored interest in acquiring you?

“It’s flattering,” Cousins told me, with a laugh, after the Kings’ Wednesday shootaround at AAC. Then, turning serious, he added of the Mavericks, “I respect them.”

“But,” I said, “I’ve also heard that you like it in Sacramento.”

“No,” Cousins corrected, “I love Sacramento.”

Cousins is getting good at this, toeing the line between appreciating another team’s interest and expressing his satisfaction with the Kings.

And give Cousins credit. He keeps producing at a star level for a team that hasn’t provided him with the proper support. Sacramento again appears headed toward the lottery, even as Cousins averages 29-10.

Questions remain, though: How much of Cousins’ attitude is him trying to make the best of an inescapable situation, and will expanded options in the summer of 2018 test his loyalty?

LeBron James dunks, struts past camerapeople and toward crowd, spooks fan (video)

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LeBron James is dominating, and the Cavaliers are rolling over the Knicks.

It’s almost as if something has LeBron particularly riled up. But maybe ease up a little? That cowering fan isn’t Phil Jackson.