Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan had some epic battles back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, plus they teamed up for the historic Dream Team in Barcelona at the 1992 Olympics.
Through that, a friendship was forged — one that was renewed this week in Monte Carlo.
Magic has called Jordan the greatest ever many times before, going all the way back to the 1990s. For my money, those are the two guys on the top of my personal All-Time list — there will never be a mold-breaking point guard like Magic again.
I’d love to be a fly on the wall when they start swapping stories.
Which NBA team has the worst local television ratings per capita in the entire NBA? The Brooklyn Nets. Last season, the Nets drew 0.55 percent of the New York market to watch their games on the YES Network, a number that was down 29 percent from the year before.
None of that matters. In what may be the best evidence yet of the growing popularity of the NBA — and the value of live sports television programming — the Nets and the YES Network are nearing a new, massive local television deal, reports the Sports Business Journal (via Nets Daily).
The Nets used a contractual “reset” that occurs every five years to get YES Network’s majority owner Fox Sports to increase its rights fee to an annual average of around $40 million, starting with 2017-18 season, according to sources.
This deal would include both broadcast and digital rights.
The Nets ratings are not likely to go up this season — after buying out Deron Williams this summer this team is likely to take a step back in quality of play. They didn’t sign any big stars that will draw eyeballs. They are sliding into a rebuilding era and have yet to capture the hearts and minds of the majority of Brooklyn hoops fans.
And still, that’s worth double what they were getting for local broadcast rights. For the YES Network, the Nets are an important part of their winter lineup (while they wait for baseball season to start).
The Nets are not alone, the Clippers are in the midst of a renegotiation and owner Steve Ballmer — whose team draws considerable fewer viewers than the Lakers, even with the latter’s recent troubles — is not going to settle for double what he was getting.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is going to rack up a lot of chase down blocks over the course of his career, but he wasn’t getting this one.
That is the Bulls’ Nikola Mirotic with the dunk — right through the block attempt of Antetokounmpo.
It was the top highlight from Spain’s win over Greece Tuesday, advancing the Spaniards to the final four of EuroBasket (the top two teams get an automatic bid to the Rio Olympics next summer). Greece will now have to win a consolation game to ensure they get to take part in one of the pre-Olympics tournaments next summer, which fills out the final three spots in the Rio Games lineup.
Houston’s Montrezl Harrell is a good Samaritan, too.
The rookie second-round pick of the Rockets is a former Louisville player and was in the city when he came upon a nasty accident. University of Louisville sports information director Kenny Klein tweeted out what happened next (hat tip NBA reddit).
Harrell, a 6’8″ power forward, impressed at Summer League, averaging 14 points and 6.7 rebounds a night, showing off his high-motor game. He’s going to have a little trouble cracking the rotation on a very good Houston team, but his energetic style may make it hard for Kevin McHale to keep him on the bench.
Future Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon was a young student at the University of Houston, and a member of their high-flying basketball team Phi Slamma Jamma (along with Clyde Drexler).
Moses Malone was a member of the Houston Rockets and was racking up NBA MVP trophies.
And they used to go at it on the practice court in some epic battles where the veteran taught the young star the game. On the occasion of Malone’s passing, Olajuwon looked back on how Malone shaped his game, speaking to Fran Blinebury of NBA.com.
“I would never have accomplished what I did if I did not play against Moses at Fonde,” Olajuwon said before his own Hall of Fame induction in 2008. “I knew the rules. I knew the basics of the game and what you were supposed to do. But he is the one that taught me how to do it.
“With Moses there were no rests, no breaks. He was working every time down the court — scoring, rebounding or just making you feel his body. He would laugh when he slammed into you. If you tried to take a breath, he went by you or over you. There was no stop….
“I usually couldn’t go through Moses, because he was just so strong,” Olajuwon said. “So I had to learn to use speed and agility to go around him. That’s how I built my game.”
Olajuwon added a series of moves and counters, and soon enough was going around everyone in the NBA. A decade after those pickup games and lessons in Houston, Olajuwon was winning an NBA title.
And Moses Malone deserves a little credit for all of it.