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Jeremy Roenick: Michael Jordan bet on basketball

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Michael Jordan is a notorious gambler and golfer.

He also played basketball.

Former NHL star Jeremy Roenick told a story that combines all three of Jordan’s main interests. Roenick played for the Blackhawks while Jordan played for the Bulls. They overlapped seven seasons in Chicago (1988/89-1992/93, 1994/95-1995/96)

Roenick on 670 The Score:

Back in the 90s, when the Bulls were on fire, this was like end of the season for us, end of the season for them. I get a call from Michael, “Meet me at Sunset Ridge early. We’re going to go play 18 holes.” We didn’t have a game. We had actually a day off. So, I meet him at Sunset Ridge.

Big ol’ Greg Kunkel, who was one of the best people in golf here in Chicago – I’ve got to mention Greg at Sunset Ridge.

So, we played a round, beat him for a couple thousand, and I’m getting ready to leave. Now, the Bulls are playing that night. They’re playing Cleveland that night. So, I’m thinking he’s leaving. It’s 10 o’clock. He’s like, “No, let’s go play again.” So, he goes and we fill up a bag full of ice and Coors Light, and we walk again. We roll around another 18, and I take him for another couple.

Now, we’ve been drinking all afternoon. Now, he’s going from Sunset Ridge to the stadium to play a game. And I’m messing around. I’m like, “I’m going to call my bookie. All the money that you just lost to me I’m putting on Cleveland tonight.” He goes, “I’ll tell you what.” He goes, “I’ll bet you that we win by 20 points and I have more than 40.” I’m like, “Done.” Son of a gun goes out, scores 52, and they win by 26 or something after… 36 holes of golf and having maybe 10 Bud Lights.

The man, Michael Jordan, to me, is probably the best athlete that I’ve ever seen, that I’ve ever been around and watched play. The way he presented himself and played the game, just amazing.

After the first half, I didn’t even – my money was gone. It was just gone. Done. So much for 36 holes of hard grinding.

This story is told whimsically, but it’s a pretty serious allegation. Roenick said Jordan bet on his own game – a cardinal sin for professional athletes. It takes on even greater significance, because Jordan is still involved in the NBA as owner of the Hornets.

That leads to an important question: Is the story true?

Roenick estimated it occurred in 1992 or 1993. On March 28, 1992, Jordan scored 44 points to lead the Bulls to a 24-point win over Cleveland. However, Roenick played in Hartford that night.

That’s the only game that meets the key parameters – Bulls playing at home in March or April, Jordan scoring at least 40, Chicago winning by at least 20.

So, the story didn’t happen exactly as Roenick told it. But it was decades ago. It’d be reasonable if Roenick misremembered details but still got the crux of the story correct.

The Bulls’ opponent seems like an easy detail to forget. There’s one other March/April home game during Roenick’s and Jordan’s time together in Chicago where Jordan scored at least 40 and the Bulls won by at least 20. On March 7, 1996, Jordan scored 53 in a 21-point win over the Pistons. The Blackhawks were off that day. However, that’s pretty early to be considered the end of  the season. The high temperature in Chicago that day was 17 degrees. Would they have really golfed in that weather? Doubtful.

Maybe Roenick misremembered the opponent and the spread. On March 12, 1993, Jordan scored 52 points (the precise number Roenick retold) in the Bulls’ 15-point win over the Hornets. Roenick was on his first of consecutive off days. Again, though, that was early to be considered the end of the season. The high was just 31 degrees – maybe warm enough for a couple golf fiends, though questionable at best. Jordan also played in Miami the night before, another reason to believe he wasn’t on the course early the next morning – though not an assumption that can be taken for granted.

April 16, 1993 checks a lot of boxes. It’s in a year Roenick thought it happened. The Blackhawks’ regular season ended the day prior, and they had a couple off days before the playoffs. Jordan scored 47 points in a 14-point home win over the Bucks. The high temperature was a reasonable 44 degrees. To an East Coaster like Roenick, what’s difference between Cleveland and Milwaukee, anyway? The spread doesn’t match, but no game fits perfectly. If Roenick’s story is true, my money is on this game.

It’s also possible this story is embellished or even fabricated. Roenick probably gets a captive audience every time he tells it. I was certainly intrigued. Jordan might dispute it.

If anyone is inclined to ask him.

OG Anunoby inbounds ball off Raptors teammate Marc Gasol’s head (video)

Raptors OG Anunoby and Marc Gasol
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Everything is clicking for the Raptors.

They’re defending NBA champions with the pressure off this season. They’re 29-14 and a surprising third place in the Eastern Conference. They’ve won four straight games.

Doesn’t their chemistry look great?

Faizal Khamisa of Sportsnet:

Marc Gasol‘s stare at OG Anunoby is fantastic.

Andre Drummond gets elbowed, loses tooth, kicks chair out of his way (video)

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Andre Drummond keeps looking ornery.

His Pistons stink. He’s in the midst of trade rumors, though apparently not headed to the Hawks or Knicks. And he was on the wrong end of Thomas Bryant‘s hustle during Detroit’s loss to the Wizards yesterday.

Drummond got elbowed in the face and lost a tooth. Then, while exiting the floor, he kicked a chair out of his way.

Drummond:

It was surprising Bryant didn’t get called for anything, especially because Pistons forward Markieff Morris had already been ejected for this flagrant 2 on Davis Bertans:

LeBron James on fan throwing item at Bronny during game: ‘Just disrespectful’

Bronny James
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LeBron James‘ son, Bronny, has an incredible amount of attention on him for a high schooler.

Unfortunately, someone took it too far while Bronny was playing a game in Massachusetts yesterday. A young-looking fan threw something at Bronny during a game.

LeBron:

LeBron, via ESPN:

“I didn’t see it or hear it, actually. While I was on the opposite side of the floor, I did see the referee stop the game or stop the inbound, and the cop came up there,” he said. “I didn’t even know what happened until the video evidence showed me when I got here.

“It’s just disrespectful, and it was a little kid too. I don’t know how old that little kid was, so I don’t know if he learned that on his own or if he learned it at home. Whatever the case may be, it’s disrespectful. I wonder how old that kid is, if he is the age around Bronny’s age [15] or [James’ son] Bryce’s age [12]. I’d like to see them try that while they’re paying attention.”

You can hear LeBron as a parent in these words, wondering the age of the thrower and where he learned the behavior.

It’s a shame the fan acted this way. Hopefully, someone teaches him a lesson about why this was wrong.

Three Things to Know: Don’t take Damian Lillard for granted, he explodes for 61 points

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Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA.

1) Damian Lillard explodes for 61, reminds everyone he is elite. It’s not so much that Damian Lillard is forgotten by fans around the nation as much as just taken for granted. Because he plays in the Pacific Northwest and doesn’t end up on national television all that often, and because he’s been consistently so good for so long (but without the Trail Blazers being seen as a real threat to win a ring), fans sleep on him being one of the best and most entertaining guards in the NBA.

Not on Monday.

On Martin Luther King Day, Lillard reminded everyone just how special he can be scoring 61 points, knocking down 11 threes, and scoring seven in overtime to make sure Portland beat Golden State in a showcase TNT game.

The Warriors threw every defense they could find at Lillard: Double teams, a few triple teams, and most of the night Warriors players would pick him up full court. It didn’t matter. Lillard looked every bit the guy who finished top six in MVP voting the past two seasons, the All-NBA guard the last two seasons (and likely a third in a row this season), the guy who just can’t be stopped when he is on. Lillard scored 42 through the first three quarters, added a dozen more — including some clutch threes — in the fourth, then had seven more in OT. It was a virtuoso performance.

Lillard will likely get taken for granted again by fans this season, especially on a Portland team that is 19-26 and made a trade over the weekend — sending Kent Bazemore, Anthony Tolliver, and two second-round picks to Sacramento for Trevor Ariza, Wenyen Gabriel, and Caleb Swanigan — that was about cutting the team’s luxury tax bill in half. It also signaled to the league the Blazers would be sellers at the trade deadline, looking to get out of the tax entirely. (Expect for Portland to try and ship out Hassan Whiteside in a money-saving trade next.)

It’s a trade that largely waved the white flag on the season. Maybe things go right, Jusuf Nurkic comes back and Portland makes a push up to the final playoff slot in the West — and that’s a big maybe — but they are not a postseason threat this year.

Just don’t wave the white flag on Lillard, he’s still one of the game’s elite guards.

2) Kemba Walker owns LeBron James (at least once in the last 29 games, but he’ll take it). Kemba Walker, toiling away his career in Charlotte on teams where the dream was just making the playoffs, never seemed a threat to the LeBron James juggernauts in Miami and Cleveland. LeBron had beaten Walker 28 consecutive times.

Monday it was Walker’s turn.

Boston crushed the Lakers in a game that had fans flipping over to America’s Got Talent because there was more drama on that stage than the TD Garden. The Celtics took charge with a 12-1 run in the second, grabbed the offensive rebound on 41.7 percent of their missed shots for the game (led by Ennis Kanter), got 20 points from Walker and 27 from Jayson Tatum in a “don’t you dare leave me out of the All-Star Game” performance, and cruised to a 139-107 thumping of the Lakers. Boston led by 14 at half and the entire fourth quarter was basically garbage time.

Jaylen Brown dunking on LeBron pretty much sums up the night.

After that play, Brown stared down LeBron and got a technical — I hate that tech. Let the players show some emotion, let a little trash talk go down. If we wanted emotionless performances we’d put on a Keanu Reeves movie.

“I ain’t going to lie, that was pretty nice, pretty awesome,” Brown said after the game (via the AP). “LeBron, he’s gotten so many other guys. Just to be out there against one of the best players to ever play the game is an honor. I always like that matchup and it gives me a little extra boost.”

For the Lakers, this is a was a “flush it and move on” game that happens to every team over the course of a season. I’d be careful reading too much into this one game. Anthony Davis returned from his bruised tailbone but looked rusty. LeBron was just off, the Boston defense took Los Angeles out of their flow, and the Lakers stood around a lot and didn’t move off the ball. Marcus Smart had a good defensive game, Tatum’s length helped on that end, but mostly this was just an off night for the Lakers. There are questions about this Los Angeles roster, but one night in Boston didn’t tell us much about them.

3) Russell Westbrook now has a triple-double against every team in the NBA. Before MLK Day, only LeBron James had recorded a triple-double against every franchise in the NBA.

Russell Westbrook, welcome to that club. Monday he scored 32 points, 12 assists, and 11 rebounds against the one team still on his list — the Oklahoma City Thunder, for whom he had played up until this season.

Much like Lillard (mentioned above), we tend to take for granted just how impressive a player Westbrook is — triple-doubles are hard to come by and he just racks them up like they’re his birthright. We need to take a step back and admire what Westbrook does. we’re not going to see the likes of him for a while.

Westbrook’s play didn’t turn around Houston’s slump. The Rockets fell to the Thunder 112-107, that’s four losses in a row and 5-of-6 for the Rockets. In a tight West, these kinds of streaks can damage playoff seeding and Houston needs to right the ship quickly.