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.

Watch Bam Adebayo score 38, lift Heat to win over Wizards

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MIAMI (AP) — Bam Adebayo scored a season-high 38 points and the Miami Heat beat the Washington Wizards 110-107 Friday night.

Caleb Martin added 20 points and Kyle Lowry finished with 13 points while Tyler Herro had 11 points and 10 assists for the Heat, who won their second straight at home against Washington after their 113-105 victory Wednesday.

Adebayo’s two free throws with 1:37 remaining put Miami ahead 105-104 lead then extended the advantage on a short jumper with 38 seconds left.

“It was one of those things where my teammates gave me the ball and I was taking advantage of the mismatch,” Adebayo said. “They were shots (Washington) let me have.”

Adebayo has scored in double digits in all 18 of his appearances this season. He’s had double-doubles in half of those games; Miami is 6-3 in those contests.

“He had a lot on his shoulders, really the last several games with a lot of different lineups and everything,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “You need that stability from your leaders. I think at some point we’ll print up these shirts, `Mr. Reliable,’ and I’ll wear them, probably.”

Lowry also had eight assists, seven rebounds and a four-point play with 3:15 left for a 103-102 lead – the 11th of what would be 13 lead changes on the night.

And it was another close game for the Heat, who are already 4-3 in games decided by three points or less this season.

“That’s what’s happened really for, it seems like several weeks,” Spoelstra said. “It just feels like every single one of these games is going down to the last possession.”

The Wizards cut the deficit on Bradley Beal‘s dunk before Martin made two free throws with 12.5 seconds for the final margin, then hounded Beal defensively on the game’s last possession and forced the Wizards’ All-Star into a miss to end the contest.

“I take pride in trying to make stops,” Martin said. “Those are the types of situations you dream about, game on the line against a guy like Bradley Beal with the ball late shot clock. I just tried to make it as tough as possible.”

Beal and Kyle Kuzma finished with 28 points Kristaps Porzingis added 18 points for the Wizards.

“We did enough throughout the course of the game to put us in position to win,” said Beal, who returned from a one-game absence because of a quadriceps contusion. “We had several leads and ended up giving up those leads late. It was a matter of us getting stops at the defensive ends.”

Heat leading scorer Jimmy Butler (right knee soreness) missed his fifth straight game because of right knee soreness while shooters Max Strus (right shoulder impingement) and Duncan Robinson (left ankle sprain) also sat out.

The Heat rallied from a 12-point deficit late in the first quarter and cut it to 59-56 at halftime.

“Obviously, we had shots late that were makeable to keep them at bay,” Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr. said.

Another Hornets injury: Hayward out indefinitely with fractured shoulder

Philadelphia 76ers v Charlotte Hornets
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The basketball gods have not been kind to the Hornets this season. LaMelo Ball missed the start of the season with a sprained ankle, got back and played just three games before re-injuring it by stepping on a fan’s foot while chasing a loose ball out of bounds. Miles Bridges will not be with the team. Cody Martin had his knee scoped and is out, and Dennis Smith Jr. is out with a sprained ankle — and that’s just the guys out right now.

Now add Gordon Hayward to the list. He is out indefinitely with a fractured shoulder. Shams Charania of The Athletic broke the news.

Hayward has a long history of injuries and has battled shoulder issues all season. There had been hope in Charlotte that he could stay healthy long enough to contribute to some wins and build up some potential trade interest (his name came up in Russell Westbrook scenarios, for example). In the 11 games he played, he averaged 16.3 points and shot 38.1% from 3. Of course, a trade was always a longshot because Hayward is owed a fully guaranteed $31.5 million next season, no team was taking that on without sweeteners.

With him injured, a trade is out of the question (other than part of a salary dump).

Kevin Durant says ‘it’s cool to see’ LeBron break all-time scoring record

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LeBron James remains on target to break Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s NBA all-time scoring record, although with the games he has missed this season the target date now looks more like late February/early March.

Kevin Durant is excited to see it, as he told Nick Friedell of ESPN.

“To be the No. 1 in anything, there’s 8 billion people in the world, we just figured that out last week, so to be the No. 1 of all time at scoring the basketball, I’m sure it’s going to be a range of emotions for him,” Durant said at Friday’s shootaround, in advance of a game against the Indiana Pacers. “But to be in an era where we see this live is pretty cool as well. You probably can’t even describe the emotions and feelings him and his family and his friends are going to go through, but it’s cool to see it up close.”

Durant is currently 18th on that all-time scoring list (having just moved past Kevin Garnett), which is impressive in its own right even if he is not going to catch LeBron. LeBron’s feat has taken all of his 20 NBA seasons, and that is what impressed the Spurs’ Gregg Popovich.

“LeBron is taking care of himself so well that he’s been able to play a bundle of games for a lot of years. And that’s what he takes,” Popovich said before his Spurs took on the Lakers. “But he gets credit for taking care of himself and being able to be out there. The way a lot of players don’t even come close to. His commitment to the game and to what he has to do, has allowed him to be in this position.”

LeBron’s quest continues to generate a lot of buzz around the league. He just hopes it’s not the lone bright highlight out of this Lakers’ season, but his team has a lot of work to climb up to the postseason out of a 5-11 start.

 

Leonard, George both out for Clippers Friday, Jokic probable for Nuggets

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When Kawhi Leonard returned and was put in the starting lineup, the Clippers said it was time to buckle down and truly start their season.

Instead, how about another round of injuries?

Paul Goerge is missing his third consecutive game with a hamstring tendon strain, while Leonard has a sprained right ankle and this is his second game out.

Adding to the troubling news for the Clippers in this game, Nikola Jokic is probable.

The Clippers won the first three games Leonard was back, and they have a ridiculous +31.7 net rating in the limited minutes that George and Leonard are on the court together. But the question heading into the season — even among those backing the Clippers to come out of the West (*raises hand*) — was whether would they stay healthy enough to live up to that potential? So far, the signs are not promising.

Yet, the Clippers are 11-8 despite the injuries and just a game back of the top-seeded Suns in a West where no team has run away with it. They are not out of it, but they must find a way to get their stars on the court together for an extended period.