Michael Jordan: Winning 6th NBA title with Bulls was ‘trying year’

0 Comments

CHARLOTTE, N.C — Michael Jordan described his final NBA championship season with the Chicago Bulls as a “trying year.” Who knew winning a 6th NBA title wasn’t easy?

“We were all trying to enjoy that year knowing it was coming to an end,” Jordan told Good Morning America on Thursday. Jordan appeared on the show via video conference from his home in Florida to promote the “The Last Dance,” a 10-part documentary series focused on the final year of the 90′s Bulls dynasty that won six NBA titles in eight years.

“The beginning of the season, it started when (general manager) Jerry Krause told (coach) Phil Jackson that he could go 82-0 and he would never get a chance to come back,” Jordan said. “Knowing that I had married myself to him, and if he wasn’t going to be the coach, then obviously I wasn’t going to play. So Phil started off the season saying this was the last dance — and we played it that way.”

The series will debut Sunday night on ESPN in the United States and on Netflix internationally over five consecutive Sundays through May 17. There will be two hour-long episodes each of those nights.

Jordan said Thursday that after Jackson told the team it was to be the final season together, the Bulls focused on completing the task of a second three-peat.

“Mentally it tugged at you that this had to come to an end, but it also centered our focus to making sure we ended it right,” Jordan said. “As sad as it sounded at the beginning of the year, we tried to rejoice and enjoy the year and finish it off the right way.”

The documentary was originally scheduled to be released in June during the NBA Finals, but ESPN made the decision to accelerate its release due to the lack of live sports programming because of the coronavirus pandemic. The series has been billed to include never-before-seen footage from that season, during which the team chased its sixth championship.

But the documentary covers more than just the final season.

The documentary shows Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf and Jordan arguing about a foot injury he suffered during his second NBA season.

Jordan wanted to play through the injury after doctors told the team there was a 90% chance he would recover.

Reinsdorf, however, did not want the star guard to play for fear it might ruin his career.

“I said to Michael, you’re not thinking about the risk-reward ratio,” Reinsdorf said in the clip aired by GMA. “If you had a terrible headache and I gave you a bottle of pills and nine of the pills would cure you and one of the pills would kill you, would you take a pill?”

Jordan replied that “it depends on how (expletive) bad the headache is.”

Reinsdorf ultimately won out; Jordan sat out 64 games that season before returning for the playoffs.

Jordan also talks about his time at the University of North Carolina where he would write his mother asking for money for postage stamps so he could send her letters and to pay his phone bill.

“It’s a little different today,” Jordan said. “I had a phone bill in college that was $60 or less, but I only had $20 in my account. The thing that people will learn, and my kids will laugh about when they see it, is we used postage stamps back in those days. Looking at the video you will see things that people have forgot, that life was this way.

“We didn’t have Instagram or Twitter, so you had to live life as it came. … Spending time with friends and family, it wasn’t the phone. It was in presence — and you wrote letters.”

Jordan discussed his parents during the interview with Good Morning America, saying they were the biggest influence in his life. He said he learned many valuable lessons from them, including the ability to learn from the negatives in life and turn them into positives.

He also praised his older brother, Larry.

“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for my brother Larry,” Jordan said. “Larry pushed me. We used to fight after every game. But through that fight emerged someone like me. He’s right next to me and supports me.”

The series will also include extensive profiles of Jackson, and some of Jordan’s key teammates, including Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman and Steve Kerr.

Pelicans Trey Murphy III reportedly invited to participate in Dunk Contest

0 Comments

We knew three participants invited to the All-Star Saturday night Dunk Contest: G-League fan favorite Mac McClung, the Portland Trail Blazers Shaedon Sharpe and the Houston Rockets’ KJ Martin.

The fourth slot in that event will go to the Pelicans’ Trey Murphy, reports Andrew Lopez of ESPN.

No doubt Murphy can throw it down with the best of them.

The Dunk Contest will headline All-Star Saturday night, Feb. 18, from the Vivint Arena (soon to be the Delta Center again). The event will be broadcast on TNT.

The Dunk Contest is the Saturday night headline event, but it has fallen flat in recent years. Adding a G-League dunker and young, bouncy athletes such as Murphy, Martin and Sharpe could make this one entertaining. However, what fans really want to see — what made the Dunk Contest must-watch back in the day when Jordan, Kobe, and Vince Carter were doing it — is the stars. There will be no Ja Morant, no Zion Williamson, and no Anthony Edwards in this contest.

LeBron James NBA all-time scoring record tracker

0 Comments

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has held the NBA all-time scoring record at 38,387 points since he retired in 1989. It is one of the most iconic records in sports and one thought by many that would never be broken, but LeBron James is on the verge of breaking that scoring record and doing it at age 38. How many more points does LeBron need to take over the scoring record? When is it projected to happen? Let’s break down the latest numbers (this will be updated after every Lakers game until the record is set).

How many points does LeBron James need to set the scoring record?
117

Abdul-Jabbar career points: 38,387
LeBron career points: 38,271

Lakers’ upcoming schedule:

Jan. 30 at Nets
Jan. 31 at Knicks
Feb. 2 at Pacers
Feb. 4 at Pelicans
Feb. 7 vs. Thunder
Feb. 9 vs. Bucks

When is LeBron projected to set the all-time scoring record:

LeBron is averaging 30.2 points per game this season, at that pace he would set the record on Feb. 4 at the New Orleans Pelicans.

However, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the record fall when LeBron returns to Los Angeles on Feb. 7 or Feb. 9.

News and notes on LeBron’s quest for the record:

• LeBron scored 41 points — and felt he should have had a couple more — in the Lakers’ overtime loss to the Celtics Saturday on national television.

• Sixers Doc Rivers on what impresses him in LeBron’s run to this record: “LeBron has done it so differently to me [thank Kareem]. Because LeBron is not a natural scorer. LeBron is a playmaker. He got criticized early in his career for making the right decisions. And the fact that he’s now about to break the scoring record, it really points out his greatness.”

• LeBron scored 20 points in the Lakers’ win over the Spurs, a game in which Anthony Davis returned from injury and Rui Hachimura made his debut as a Laker after being traded from the Wizards.

• What has Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said about LeBron passing his record? There has been a bit of frostiness between the two men, but Abdul-Jabbar was gracious in comments to Marc Stein back in 2021 about the possibility of his record falling: “I’m excited to see it happen. I don’t see records as personal accomplishments, but more as human achievements. If one person can do something that’s never been done, that means we all have a shot at doing it. It’s a source of hope and inspiration. Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile back in 1954. Since then, not only have 1,400 runners beaten that time, but the new record is 17 seconds less. We all win when a record is broken and if LeBron breaks mine, I will be right there to cheer him on.”

Watch Harden run onto court from bench mid-play to defend

0 Comments

It takes a second to notice, but the 76ers had just four players on the court trying to defend the Nuggets on a late third-quarter possession.

But when James Harden — sitting on the bench — notices it, he stands up and runs into play, drawing a technical.

The technical foul was for having four men on the court, not on Harden specifically.

While that may have been a rare instance of Harden rushing to play defense, the 76ers as a team cranked up their defense in the second half against the Nuggets and went on to get the home win behind 47 points from Joel Embiid.

LeBron livid over no foul call at end of regulation, Lakers fall to Celtics in OT

0 Comments

“The best player on earth can’t get a call. It’s amazing.”

Lakers coach Darvin Ham made that comment out of frustration after another game where the Lakers felt robbed at the end. He wasn’t the only Laker.

LeBron James was once again brilliant — 41 points, nine rebounds and eight assists — but with the game tied against the Celtics and 4.1 seconds on the clock, he drove the lane and didn’t get the foul call when it clearly looked like Jayson Tatum hit him on the arm as he shot.

After the game, referee crew chief Eric Lewis admitted the officials missed the call:

There was contact. At the time, during the game, we did not see a foul. The crew missed the play.”

Patrick Beverley picked up a technical foul for bringing a photographer’s camera over to the referee to show evidence of the foul.

These losses are a punch to the gut for a Laker team with little margin for error and trying to make up ground in the West (at 23-27 they sit 13th in the conference). But LeBron sees a pattern — he is scoring 30.2 points per game (sixth in the league) but is getting to the line just 4.9 times per game, fewer than anyone else in the top nine in the league in scoring.

“I don’t get it. I’m attacking the paint, just as much as any of the guys in this league that’s shooting double-digit free throws a night, and I don’t get it. I don’t understand it,” James said postgame in Boston.

The other Lakers were a little more direct.

Boston pulled away in overtime to get the 125-121 win, snapping their own three-game losing streak.

LeBron finished with 41, Anthony Davis 16 (on 6-of-15 shooting off the bench) and Beverley had 15 including a key putback dunk. Jaylen Brown scored 37 for Boston, Tatum 30 and Malcolm Brogdon had 26 off the bench.

There are no moral victories for these Lakers more than halfway into the season, playing the team with the best record in the NBA close and almost winning does not count. Time is running out on LeBron and his team, they need to string together some wins. They felt they should have gotten the chance to win this one.