Jordan documentary origin
Associated Press

How Michael Jordan documentary origin happened in 1987

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The year was 1997. Andy Thompson had an idea. Adam Silver liked his plan. Neither had any clue that the Jordan documentary origin was then.

The ESPN and Netflix documentary “The Last Dance” — the story based around Michael Jordan and the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls — premieres Sunday night with the first two episodes of the 10-part series. And the images from that season exist because of the notion that Thompson had and Silver, now the NBA commissioner but then the person in charge of NBA Entertainment, helped arrange.

RELATED: What time does ‘The Last Dance’ air?

Thompson, who already had been working at NBA Entertainment for about a decade, suggested embedding a crew with the Bulls. Silver made some phone calls. They were off and running.

“It’s almost hard to understate how famous Michael was and how popular this Bulls team was,” Silver told The Associated Press. “And so, Andy’s view was, ‘We need to find a way to capture this team in its glory.’ And there were no such things as multi-part documentaries on sports on television back then.”

‘No one in the NBA had ever done this’

But there had been some examples of the storytelling that Thompson — the brother of former NBA player Mychal Thompson, the uncle of Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson — was pitching to Silver. Specifically, Thompson was moved by the tale of the 1986-87 Edmonton Oilers, a video called “The Boys On The Bus,” which chronicled a season with Wayne Gretzky and the eventual Stanley Cup champions. So the Jordan documentary origin was similar.

“No one in the NBA had ever done this,” Andy Thompson said. “And you’re not just doing this with a run of the mill NBA team. You’re doing this with the greatest player in the history of the game in Michael Jordan, who was very protective of his image and his privacy.”

He got to know Jordan a bit while working at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. He had worked closely with Ahmad Rashad, a Jordan confidant, through “NBA Inside Stuff,” a show Rashad hosted. And Andy Thompson knew Jordan once idolized his brother, so much so that he wore puka shell necklaces and once scribbled his name on a notebook as “Mychal Jordan” until his mother saw it and wasn’t pleased.

“Because of his respect and admiration for my brother, obviously, Michael and I connected,” Andy Thompson said.

Silver approached Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf first, then had to convince then-coach Phil Jackson — who also agreed, albeit with some conditions that if he didn’t want the crew around at certain times they would give him space. And in the end, Jordan had to sign off as well.

Finance aspect was big consideration

Silver also made the financial aspect work, running that part past then-Commissioner David Stern. The project had plenty of other people involved and was costly; high-definition video used today didn’t exist at that time, but Thompson had already made the decision to chronicle the season on very costly, high-quality film.

“I’ll take David’s quote and apply it to Andy,” Silver said. “Andy had an unlimited budget, then he exceeded it.”

Thompson’s crew shot hundreds of hours of film. They knew every trick; if cigar smoke was in the air, it meant Jordan was nearby. The crew captured him one day in the locker room, cigar in his mouth, baseball bat in his hand. Another interview that Thompson won’t forget is one with guard Steve Kerr, who escaped to the shower area and was seated alone before what became the final game of the season.

Having a brother in the NBA had familiarized Thompson with locker-room culture, when to push, when to back off.

“When to shut up, when to be a fly on the wall,” Thompson said. “That gave me a huge advantage in dealing with players. I wasn’t afraid, I wasn’t intimidated. I could speak their language, so I could develop relationships quicker because of that. And that’s what helped me navigate the course of the season because access didn’t just happen overnight. There was a feeling out process for us and the team and the team for us.”

Many expressed interest

The footage, until it was unearthed for this project, had been locked in a vault at NBA Entertainment. Silver said many people — Spike Lee, Danny DeVito and more — expressed interest in putting together the documentary over the years and that it became a running joke between he and Jordan if it would ever be seen.

Nearly a quarter-century later, the big moment has finally arrived.

“We made it happen, but I would only say in all seriousness, this would not have happened if we had a specific project budget,” Silver said. “We would have had a zero under revenue and a large number under expense. I think it was more a gut feeling we had that it was our obligation to do this and we would spend what was necessary to capture what we knew was one of the greatest athletes and one of the greatest teams of all time.”

Report: Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown bickered in Celtics’ locker room

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After their Game 2 loss to the Heat last night, the Celtics – especially Marcus Smart – made a commotion in their locker room.

What actually happened?

Apparently, Smart and Jaylen Brown got into it.

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

Boston Celtics’ Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown had a heated confrontation inside that locker room after the Game 2 loss and needed to be separated by teammates, multiple sources told The Athletic.

Sources told The Athletic that Smart stormed into the Celtics postgame locker room saying that other players needed to be held accountable and not simply point the finger toward him when things are going wrong. As Smart continued and his voice grew louder, sources said Brown snapped back and shouted that Celtics players must stay together and that their actions must come as a team, not individually, and that Smart needed to cool off. Those sources added Smart had verbal exchanges with a couple of the assistant coaches during the game.

None of this is new for Smart. Not jawing with a Boston assistant coach during a game. Not getting hot after a loss. Not even clashing with Brown.

This is who he is – sometimes for good, sometimes not. But the same reasons Smart thrives as a feisty player are the same reasons he was going off last night.

Brown, via Justin Leger of NBC Sports Boston:

“He plays with passion, he’s full of fire, and that’s what I love about him most, to be honest. He has that desire and that will and we need him to continue to have that. There’s ups and downs with families all the time. But we embrace each other for who we are. And who Marcus is, I love him for it.”

Brown doesn’t mind a little chaos if it serves a greater purpose. He’s emotionally mature enough to handle this.

But will last night’s incident actually help the Celtics? Maybe it’ll light a fire under them to keep their foot on the gas when leading.

Offensive sets that can beat a zone defense would probably go further, though.

Gordon Hayward reportedly feels good, hopes to return for Game 3

Gordon Hayward return
Jim Poorten/NBAE via Getty Images
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After a frustrating come-from-ahead loss to Miami to go down 0-2 in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Boston Celtics need a boost.

Like the return of Gordon Hayward.

That is on track to happen in Game 3, although nothing is official, reports Jared Weiss of The Athletic.

Hayward has been sidelined since he suffered a grade III ankle sprain in the first game of the playoffs against Philadelphia. He left the bubble for a time to get treatment, but has been back with the team, working out and going through a practice.

Gordon Hayward could be Boston’s X-factor in the conference finals — and his return may be the lift it needs. He gives the Celtics another versatile wing player — along with Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum — who can create his own shot and knock down open looks. Throw in Kemba Walker, and Hayward would be the fourth scoring option for Boston, making the Celtics deep and difficult to defend. Hayward also spent time guarding Butler during the regular-season matchups.

 

Celtics try to play down postgame yelling, things thrown in locker room

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“You’re not supposed to be happy when you’re down 0-2. Nothing out of the ordinary, just talking about the game.”

Jayson Tatum is right in his postgame comments, to a point. The Boston Celtics should be frustrated after blowing a 17-point lead and losing to the Miami Heat Thursday night, putting the Celtics in an 0-2 hole.

However, that part about “nothing out of the ordinary” and “just talking” in the locker room postgame? That’s not what went down, according to multiple reporters on the scene in the bubble.

After the game, the Celtics tried to play it all down. That started with coach Brad Stevens.

“Guys were emotional after a hard game, hard loss.”

Kemba Walker wouldn’t even discuss it.

“It was nothing. It was nothing. I’m not speaking about it.”

Enes Kanter took to Twitter to echo the comments of several Celtics, that they are still a family.

Boston may have just been venting postgame, but if they don’t bring the fire from the locker room out onto the court Saturday for Game 3, or this may be a very short series.

NBA playoffs schedule 2020: Dates, times, matchups for all games

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And there were four.

The NBA is down to the conference finals — and the bubble has provided us with upsets galore. There are some unexpected teams in the NBA’s Final Four, but of course LeBron James is still there. The Lakers are the heavy favorites now.

Here are a few notes on the NBA playoffs schedule 2020:

• The NBA is continuing to push the pace with games every other day — except in the East, when ESPN wants a break not to clash with the NFL. The fast pace of games will return with the NBA Finals.
Families for the players, and with the final four now the coaches, are in the bubble.
• The NBA has released an NBA Finals schedule to teams and their target is still a Sept. 30 Game 1. If either conference finals goes seven games that date will need to be pushed back.

Here is the NBA playoffs schedule 2020 (all times are Eastern):

EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS

No. 3 Boston Celtics vs. No. 5 Miami Heat

Game 1: Heat 117, Celtics 114, OT
Game 2: Heat 106, Celtics 101 (Miami leads series 2-0)
Game 3: Sept. 19, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Game 4: Sept. 23, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Game 5: Sept. 25, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)*
Game 6: Sept. 27, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN)*
Game 7: TBD (ESPN)*
*If necessary

WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS

No. 1 Los Angeles Lakers vs. No. 3 Denver Nuggets

Game 1: Sept. 18, 9 p.m. (TNT)
Game 2: Sept. 20, 7:30 p.m. (TNT)
Game 3: Sept. 22, 9 p.m. (TNT)
Game 4: Sept. 24, 9 p.m. (TNT)
Game 5: Sept. 26, 9 p.m. (TNT)*
Game 6: Sept. 28, TBD (TNT)*
Game 7: Sept. 30, TBD (TNT)*
*If necessary

NBA playoffs schedule 2020: Second Round results

Eastern Conference

No. 3 Boston beat No. 2 Toronto 4-3

No. 5 Miami beat No. 1 Milwaukee 4-1

Western Conference

No. 1 Los Angeles Lakers beat Houston 4-1

No. 3 Denver beat No. 2 Los Angeles Clippers 4-3

NBA playoffs schedule 2020: First Round results

Western Conference

No. 1 Los Angeles Lakers beat No. 8 Portland 4-1

No. 2 L.A. Clippers beat No. 7 Dallas 4-2

No. 3 Denver beat No. 6 Utah 4-3

No. 4 Houston beat No. 5 Oklahoma City 4-3

Eastern Conference

No. 1 Milwaukee beat No. 8 Orlando 4-1

No. 2 Toronto beat No. 7 Brooklyn 4-0

No. 3 Boston beat No. 6 Philadelphia 4-0

No. 5 Miami beat No. 4 Indiana 4-0