My favorite part of this — somebody has finally put John Stockton in long shorts.
More details on all this certainly will leak out. But personally, I want to play with Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose and the other young stars of today rather than keep living in the past. No offense to the dream team, who have had their summer back in the sun on their 20th anniversary. But we have a great league with great stars right now, and I’m just ready to live in the present.
LeBron could equal remarkable Jordan record with Olympic gold
In 1992, Michael Jordan had a year as great as any basketball player ever. He averaged 30 points a game shooting 51.9 percent to win the NBA MVP, then carried that over to the playoffs where he led the Bulls to an NBA Championship. In the process, he was named the NBA finals MVP. Then after a couple weeks off he joined up with the original Dream Team and went on to win Olympic gold.
No player had ever done that before.
LeBron James could do it this year.
LeBron averaged 27 points a game on 53.1 percent shooting and took on a larger role with the Heat on both ends of the floor, which led him to be named MVP. Then he carried that level of play through the post season to lead the Heat to the NBA title where he was unanimously named NBA finals MVP.
All he needs now is a gold medal to become the second person in history to have a year like that. (Hat tip to Tim Reynolds of the AP for pointing this out.)
Through everything LeBron has done and said since coming to Miami, my main point has been this — we do not yet know what his legacy will be. Well, I mean outside of Cleveland. He is an elite player in the prime of his career for the next five years and what we will think of him a decade from now and where he fits on the list of the NBA’s all time greats will be determined by these years.
And if he can equal Jordan with this amazing year, that will be part of his legacy, too.
Video: Magic Johnson responds to Clyde Drexler’s comments
Life is never really all that simple and all that clean. Politicians like to paint issues as black or white, but all of us know life is lived in shades of gray.
So it is with Clyde Drexler’s comments on HIV-positive Magic Johnson as part of a new book about the 1992 Dream Team — “Everybody kept waiting for Magic to die. Every time he’d run up the court everybody would feel sorry for the guy, and he’d get all that benefit of the doubt.”
Drexler told the Associated Press he said no such thing.
“I was one of Magic’s biggest supporters during that difficult period in his life and I take great exception to having such comments attributed to me. Magic and I have a friendship that goes back more than 28 years and I would never say such hurtful things. I have reached out to Magic to assure him that I did not say those things and to apologize to him and his family for even having to respond to something as baseless as this.”
Thing is, I have no doubt he did say that. The book’s author Jack McCallum is not some novice reporter, he’s a 30-year Sports Illustrated veteran — and he knows to tape his interviews.
But that doesn’t mean there is context that should be taken into account. McCallum goes into all of that on his blog in what is a fascinating read. He talks about how 10 of the 12 players were named to the team before the start of the 1991-92 NBA season and that two spots were left open — one for a college player (Christian Laettner) and one spot for the best of the rest in the NBA. At that moment, Drexler was at the peak of his game and felt he should have been in the first 10. Drexler always has felt he didn’t get enough recognition.
I didn’t feel comfortable writing that because Drexler is not a cruel man. But that’s what he said. Now, is there an element of truth to it? I can’t say for sure. What’s clear, though, is that it was extremely impolitic of Drexler to say it. And let me emphasize again that he wasn’t talking about the Dream Teamers but more the league in general.
But here’s something else that was not in the Deadspin excerpt but is in the book:
When Magic came back to the NBA after the Olympics, he faced renewed controversy, some of it coming from a Dream Team mate—Karl Malone. And in that charged atmosphere–freighted with ignorance, misunderstanding and, frankly, a dearth of information about a disease that we still can’t fully control–Drexler said this: “If Magic wants to play, I’ll play against him.”
It’s never that clean, it’s never really that simple in life.
Drexler says Dream Team pitied Magic Johnson because “he was going to die”
It is really hard to explain to people who are growing up now the spector that HIV/AIDS cast back in the late 1980s and early 1990s — it was a death sentence that you could get through sex. There were drug regimines just coming on the market but nobody knew if they would work, nobody really knew what was going to happen to people who contracted the disease or how long you could live with it.
That was the environment around HIV-positive Magic Johnson and the Dream Team in 1992.
Drexler was never fond of Magic’s comeback — from the 1992 All-Star Game where Magic dropped 25 points — and those bitter feelings are still there.
“Magic was always…” And Drexler goes into a decent Magic impression: “‘Come on, Clyde, come on, Clyde, get with me, get with me,’ and making all that noise. And, really, he couldn’t play much by that time. He couldn’t guard his shadow.”
“But you have to understand what was going on then. Everybody kept waiting for Magic to die. Every time he’d run up the court everybody would feel sorry for the guy, and he’d get all that benefit of the doubt. Magic came across like, ‘All this is my stuff.’ Really? Get outta here, dude. He was on the declining end of his career.”
Drexler had played exquisitely in the 1992 All-Star Game in Orlando, although the MVP award eventually went to Magic, who had been added by Commissioner Stern as a special thirteenth player to the Western Conference roster. “If we all knew Magic was going to live this long, I would’ve gotten the MVP of that game, and Magic probably wouldn’t have made the Olympic team.”
Wow. Bitter much?
I think these comments say a lot more about Drexler than they do about Magic or the Dream Team.