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.

Luka Dončić fined for money gesture toward referee after loss


The Mavericks were livid about the officiating in their loss to the Warriors, particularly the miscommunication about a third-quarter out-of-bounds play that gave Golden State an uncontested bucket in what ended up being a two-point game.

Frustrated or not, everyone knew Luka Dončić crossed a line and would get fined when he made a gesture suggesting the referees were paid off.

Friday the NBA came down with a $35,000 fine for Dončić “for directing an inappropriate and unprofessional gesture toward a game official.” While that’s a steep price it could have been much worse — the referee did not give Dončić a technical foul at the time, which would have been his 16th and triggered a one-game suspension without pay.

Dončić wasn’t the only person fined by the league for snapping at the officials, Suns coach Monty Williams was fined $20,000 on Friday “for public criticism of the officiating.” Williams was frustrated after losing to the Lakers on a night where Los Angeles got to the line 46 times to Phoenix’s 20.

“Where do you see a game with 46 free throws for one team?” Williams said after the game. “That’s just not right. I don’t care how you slice it. It is happening to us too much. Other teams are reaching, other teams are hitting, and we’re not getting the same call, and I’m tired of it. It’s old… I’m over it. Been talking about the same thing for a while. Doesn’t matter what team it is.”

It doesn’t matter what team it is for a reason. First, the Suns do not draw a lot of fouls because they are not a team that puts a lot of pressure on the rim (especially without Kevin Durant), they settle for jump shots. Second, they have the highest foul rate in the league — they foul a lot. Those two things will lead to a free throw disparity nightly (they had players who could draw fouls, Mikal Bridges is doing it now in Brooklyn, but the Suns didn’t put the ball in his and ask him to attack as the Nets have, Phoenix used him as a shooter and cutter off the ball more often).

The tensions between players and referees feel ratcheted up this season, and these are just the latest examples.

Report: Kevin Durant targeting March 29 return vs. Timberwolves


When Kevin Durant sprained his ankle during warmups, the Suns said he would be re-evaluated in three weeks. It turns out it may be more than a re-evaluation.

Durant is targeting a return almost three weeks to the day from when he injured himself, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

There has been no official update from the Suns, but Durant’s camp has always been optimistic about a return.

The Suns have gone 2-5 without Durant and slid into a virtual tie with the Clippers for the No. 4 seed in the West. If Durant returns Wednesday, Phoenix would have seven games left to hold off Los Angeles and retain home court in the first round of the playoffs. More importantly, they could generate some chemistry before the postseason begins.

Durant averaged 26.7 points and 7.3 assists a game with a ridiculous 80.8 true shooting percentage in his three games with the Suns, and the team won all three games. The fit seemed almost seamless and if the Suns can get back to that they are a threat to win the wide-open West.

It’s going to be a wild final couple of weeks in the West.

Where’s the beef? Anthony Davis says ‘Me and Bron have one of the best relationships’ in NBA


Whispers and reports of a split in the Lakers’ locker room and a beef between Anthony Davis and LeBron James gained momentum after Davis’ reaction to LeBron James breaking the all-time scoring record went viral. Talking Lakers drama is always an excellent way to get clicks/eyeballs/listeners and so once a rumor like a beef between the team’s two biggest stars begins rolling down the hill it does not stop.

Even if Davis says there is nothing to it, everything is good between him and LeBron. Here’s the quote he gave to Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

“Me and Bron have one of the best relationships I think in the NBA as far as duos or teammates, regardless,” Davis said. “But they don’t see that. They don’t see the stuff we do off the court and time we hang out with each other. They see on-court stuff.”

The reality is it doesn’t matter if LeBron and Davis are buddies, hanging out together drinking a lovely Pinot Noir and laughing behind Frank Vogel’s back. What matters is whether they can get along and thrive on the court. There’s a banner hanging in Arena that says they can if they stay healthy and management puts the right kinds of role players around them.

The healthy part is in the way right now, with LeBron out for at least a couple more weeks with a tendon foot injury (whether he returns before the season ends is up in the air). The Lakers are 7-5 in the dozen games he has missed with this injury thanks to a defense — anchored by Davis — that is third-best in the NBA over that stretch. That has kept their head above water, but the Lakers are in a tight race where six teams — from the 7-12 seeds, making up all the play-in teams and a couple that will miss out — are tied in the loss column at 37. The Lakers need more wins, including Friday night in a critical game against the Thunder.

The Lakers will need LeBron back — and LeBron and Davis to rekindle their on-court chemistry — if they are going to make any kind of a playoff run. First they just have to get to the postseason, which will fall more on Davis. Of late, he has looked up to the task.


Rumor: Could Tyronn Lue step away from Clippers after season?

Oklahoma City Thunder v LA Clippers
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Clippers coach Tyronn Lue has clearly been frustrated this season.

It’s been the things out of his control — injuries and load management forcing constant lineup shuffling, and with that difficulty in building continuity — that have left Lue exasperated at points. However, is that enough to make Lue walk away from the Clippers this summer? That rumor is out there, Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports said during the new No Cap Room podcast with Dan Devine. (Hat tip Hoopshype.)

Ty Lue, as respected head coach as they come, but there has been chatter, let’s say about potentially him, in theory, removing himself from the situation at a certain point in time. So there’s a lot I think, at stake on the other side of L.A. where the Lakers get all the attention and LeBron’s quest for a fifth ring is always soaking up the headlines, the Clippers could end up becoming a super buzzy team in the postseason and but again, that could be a situation for a lot of organizations.

This is the fourth year of the Kawhi Leonard/Paul George era with the Clippers, with iffy results at best. It cost a lot of money — not to mention draft capital and talent like giving up Shai Gilgeous-Alexander — to bring this roster together and they have one Western Conference Finals trip to show for it (2021, Lue’s first year as coach). This season they will head into the playoffs with an injured George trying to get back on the court (the good news is he doesn’t need knee surgery, but it may be closer to the second round before he can play).

Both Leonard and George are locked in for next season — at a combined $91.3 million — with player options for the season after that, but there is a sense around the league that if these Clippers don’t make a run in this year’s wide-open West playoffs there could be changes. Steve Ballmer has money to spend, but he wants results for all the checks he’s writing and there is real pressure on this organization to make that happen.

Lue could have had enough and choose to step away from that situation. Or be told to step away. Lue is in the third year of a five-year contract he signed to take over from Doc Rivers in Los Angeles, but it may be decision time for both sides.

What happens over the next couple of months will have a lot of influence over what comes next for these Clippers, but there could be changes coming to this Los Angeles team. They will be one of the more interesting teams to watch this coming off-season.