This last tour around the NBA for Phil Jackson has not really been all that filled with fanfare. Probably because he insulted every city he’s been in, then his teams went out and generally stomped the opponent. Not the way one generates a lot of love.
But Madison Square Garden, that’s different.
That’s where he played and won a title as a Knick. That was home to some epic clashes with his Chicago Bulls. That is where his Lakers have put on some shows. That’s where his Lakers are Friday night. Where he may be for the last time.
Which brings us to a great piece of reporting by Howard Beck of the New York Times to sit down with Jackson and talk about those memories.
“As many great games have been played there, I think I’ve been in a ton of them,” Jackson said Wednesday, reminiscing (but only a little) over lunch. “It’s probably the most familiar building I have in my history as a player and coach…”
New York is different — “a magical place to live,” Jackson said — and the Garden represents more than basketball. (Kobe) Bryant understands it. Over the years he has heard Jackson tell countless stories, some funny, some poignant, about his Knicks days. This trip to the Garden will be different.
“He’ll never show it because he’s always a coach that stays in the present,” Bryant said of Friday’s visit. “But I’m sure it means something to him.”
Jackson tends to come off as detached from the world, but there are things that mean a lot to him. New York does. Madison Square Garden does. And so the usual distance Jackson keeps may be closed a little tonight as his Lakers take on the Knicks.
Do yourself a favor, go read the entire NYT story. It’s great stuff.
A Malawian newspaper, writing about Michael Jordan’s statement on race, used the Crying Jordan photo accompany the article.
How did that happen?
A page designer who didn’t understand the meme? A joke never fixed before printing? A staff-wide ignorance of the photo’s cultural relevance?
Justin Block of The Huffington Post:
As it turns out, the newspaper is called The Nation, or The Malawi Nation. When reached for comment on Thursday afternoon, The Nation Senior News Analyst Joy Ndovi stated that using the Michael Jordan Crying meme was intentional, and said Sports Editor Garry Chirwa picked the photo.
Chirwa told us that when he read the story, he felt that the emotions packed within Jordan’s quote, “I could no longer keep silent,” were represented in the Michael Jordan Crying meme.
“I just imagined him crying,” Chirwa wrote via WhatsApp.
Ndovi echoed Chirwa’s sentiments:
The article on Jordan reacting to the violence in U.S. was just the perfect one for the meme to be used. It depicts the emotional state of the former NBA star. Though it might seem unconventional, what other photo could be more suitable than the infamous Crying Jordan meme?
I can think of a few.
Before signing with the Knicks to retire, Amar’e Stoudemire reportedly wanted to sign with the Suns this year and last.
He essentially confirmed both accounts.
Stoudemire, via Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic:
“The last two years, we made phone calls to Phoenix but I wasn’t getting any positive response,” Stoudemire told azcentral sports on Thursday. “That would’ve been the perfect way to go out. I didn’t want to beg Phoenix. My heart was in two places – Phoenix and New York. I just went where I was wanted.”
According to the report, Stoudemire wanted to play for Phoenix next season — not just retire as a Sun. If that’s the case, I see why the team passed. The Suns have 15 players (the regular-season roster limit), are rebuilding and already have Tyson Chandler as a veteran big.
But if Stoudemire wanted sign an unguaranteed deal with the Suns then retire as a ceremonial move, it’s a little harder to explain Phoenix’s reluctance. Perhaps, the Suns were caught off guard by such a request. Nobody in memory had done something like that in the NBA. The gesture is far more common in football and baseball.
Either way, Stoudemire retiring as a Knick wasn’t designed to show a long-standing bitterness toward the Suns.
A recent bitterness toward the Suns? Maybe.
Karl-Anthony Towns has replaced Anthony Davis as the consensus MVP-in-waiting.
Are you ready, NBA?
Here’s a sneak preview of the Timberwolves center’s future:
NEW YORK (AP) — Craig Sager’s fight with leukemia will prevent the basketball sideline reporter form covering the Rio Olympics for NBC.
NBC said Thursday in a statement that the 65-year-old Sager is preparing for a third bone marrow transplant at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Sager was first diagnosed with leukemia in 2014 and announced in March that he was no longer in remission.
The Rio Games would have been Sager’s fifth Olympics.
Sager has worked for Turner Sports for 34 years. At the ESPY Awards this month, Vice President Joe Biden presented Sager with the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance.