Which superstars and teams will be in the NBA bubble? That debate is heating up

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  • Joined ESPN in 2017

The final, fleeting fight for 30 teams to resume the NBA’s season is raging through these last days of indecision. Hours of commissioner Adam Silver’s time are being spent engaging owners and high-level executives who are making the case for how the league should march into the summer’s playoffs, including those desiring the entire league to descend upon Orlando, Florida.

Some want a wide-open playoffs, a knockout round to give those teams who are among the worst a way to punch up into the play-in for the eighth seed. Some want every market — New York and Chicago included — invited into the fans’ consciousness. And some are fearful of delivering the competitive disadvantage of a nine-month hiatus prior to the 2020-21 season to young, rebuilding franchises.

From all angles and agendas, there are appeals underway to Silver. The idea of 30 teams returning for the resumption of the season in Orlando has lost momentum, but it still has a significant lobby.

The Atlanta Hawks have the second-worst record in the Eastern Conference and the third-youngest roster. As a franchise, they’re chasing the chance to grow a young roster besieged with injuries and suspension — and buoyed by a February deadline trade for center Clint Capela — by getting back onto the floor.

The NBA and National Basketball Players Association have discussed a model of 30 teams returning to reach a target goal of 72 regular-season games, sources said. The Hawks, who had 10 players participate in voluntary workouts on Memorial Day, are the league’s closest to that total with 67 games played this season.

“Our guys are excited about the opportunity to get back to it,” Travis Schlenk, the Hawks’ president of basketball operations and general manager, told ESPN. “It has importance for us. We’re a young team, and because of injuries and some other things this season, we didn’t get to see them all together.

“Clint says he’s feeling better, and there’s a possibility that we can get him back on the court. Practicing and playing five games would be valuable to us.”

Cleveland is eager to play too. Another young roster, another franchise that needs to show improvement of its younger players. Detroit wants to get back to training camp and play games. New Orleans. Portland. Charlotte. Washington. Outside the playoff picture, there’s enthusiasm to play.

As everyone expected, of course, there isn’t unanimity on these issues. When the NBA and NBPA canvass teams at the bottom of the standings, they also hear ambivalence. Not one owner or GM is explicitly telling anyone they don’t want to play this season. Even so, there are enough players on enough bad teams who’ve shared the idea that they don’t see the value in several weeks of camp and quarantines to play five to eight regular-season games with no playoff potential.

Some lottery teams have also made it clear via back channels to the league that if their players are decidedly so-so on returning, there will be no showdown. Translated: If you need to keep us out, we’ll gladly keep our favorable lottery position. See you next season.

Privately, Silver has been considering the idea that there are plenty of sensible reasons to pare down the roster of teams in Orlando. First, there’s safety. Fewer teams, fewer people to contract or spread the coronavirus — and less bad basketball. Even elite teams will be sloppy upon return, so what about the others?

There will be a lot more Damion Lee and Alen Smailagic than Stephen Curry and Draymond Green. In a normal year, no one would care about the Golden State Warriors playing out the final string of games in obscurity with young players. This time? It would represent the unveiling of the NBA’s return, and it would be precisely what the NBA doesn’t want: a bad television spectacle.

If anyone tells you the NBA knows exactly what it’s going to do, they’re probably ahead of themselves. This is still an open discussion, and there will be more debate on Thursday’s GM call with the league and Friday’s board of governors call. It’s possible the league could bring a recommendation to the owners on Friday, but that’s still uncertain. The NBA believes it has time to deliberate and discuss the matter. In fact, there’s a possibility the first games played in Orlando could be in August, not July, sources said.

In the end, the NBA will come to the NBPA with a couple of detailed scenarios, recommending one. They’ll do so after hundreds of hours of talks with union officials and players, a full download of data about the union’s preferences.

The league’s GM survey included a pool play option featuring somewhere between the 16 current playoff teams and the full body of 30 NBA teams, sources said. Teams would be divided into a certain number of groups and face each member of their group the same amount of times. (The total number of pool games has not yet been specified.) All of these would likely be branded as playoff games.

Based on the final standings within each group, eight teams would advance out of pool play into a bracket meant to mimic the league’s normal postseason structure, sources told ESPN’s Zach Lowe.

Several current postseason teams were not initially enthusiastic about that proposal, sources told Lowe. A slump in group play could result in what is currently a solid playoff team — even one slated for home-court advantage in the first round of a normal postseason — failing to advance into the eight-team tournament, while a present-day lottery team might get hot and make the final eight.

No one wants a product that embarrasses the NBA. Appealing to players only on a sense of duty for the league’s greater good isn’t going to work. Free agency is already fraught with peril this year — and probably longer.

Some agents are hinting to GMs: Clients who’ve had good seasons on the way into free agency don’t want to risk undoing that success in a return. Those on contenders will have a hard time explaining why they’re not playing — and virtually every one of them is too competitive and committed to sit out.

On mediocre and bad teams? Well, you’d have some players ducking out of a return — especially if it’s just six to eight games. That has to be a significant part of the consideration for Silver.

There’s so much to examine, and so many factors that could leave teams feeling unfairly treated. The West’s No. 8 seed, Memphis, had its toughest stretch of games left this season. Portland, New Orleans and Sacramento are within 3.5 games of Memphis in the standings. Portland — with Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins possibly returning — and New Orleans — with a well-conditioned Zion Williamson — could be dangerous challengers in a play-in scenario.

Another factor in the wishy-washy nature of how unconvinced players on non-playoff teams could react to getting called back for a resumption: “It isn’t like guys can run off to Vegas or Europe on vacation if we don’t play,” one Eastern Conference GM said. “There’s a level of boredom that makes guys more willing to play right now too.”

There are still a number of ideas under discussion, including this one: bringing back the four Western Conference teams on the playoff bubble for play-in purposes, but none in the Eastern Conference, sources said.

“Over the weekend, you’re getting a sense the league is starting to realize: Less is more,” one high-ranking Eastern Conference executive told ESPN.

When the NBA feared losing the season completely in March, it was easier for owners, executives and players to hear Silver preparing everyone for how frustrated and aggrieved they might be once these choices are made. As everything moves closer to a return, it’s clearer that’ll be the case.

“If we don’t show up, we lose more money,” one starter on a non-playoff team told ESPN. “We are already in the hole. And what message does it send to the public, the teams, the players that we are OK with 10 to 14 teams not playing? We already have a competition problem in the league.

“My thing is, play 30 teams for as many games as possible for the money or go straight to the playoffs.”

Adam Silver hears them all. And wherever he lands on the issue, whatever model he suggests to the owners and union that makes the most sense for all, the commissioner always did suspect how it would end: hard decisions leaving hurt feelings. This is a small part of the pandemic’s price to the NBA.

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Paul Pierce confirms beef with LeBron James started after he spit at Cavs’ bench

Paul Pierce dropped the hottest of hot takes last week when he claimed that LeBron James wasn’t among his top five NBA players of all time.

It was — and remains — a blatant omission by Pierce, considering he’s a knowledgeable former player and James normally is considered one of the two best to ever play (depending on whether you think he’s better than Michael Jordan). Now we may have some context as to why he left him off.

The two have a well-documented feud, but the origin of that feud came when Pierce spat in James’ eye — almost literally.

The story — as told by Pierce’s former Celtics teammate Kendrick Perkins on ESPN — is that Pierce spit at the Cavs bench during a meaningless preseason game. Perkins said it was a result of the incredible hype James received before he entered the league and the subsequent disrespect NBA players felt. It’s worth noting that Perkins said the incident occurred in 2003, though it actually happened in 2004.

“Paul is talking noise to the bench, right?” Perkins said. “He’s talking big noise to the Cavs bench, and they’re sitting over there, Bron and them, they’re all sitting over there. … Paul actually spits over there at the bench, right? The ultimate disrespect.

“I think Paul, it’s kind of more personal towards LeBron,” Perkins added. “Because there’s no way in hell that you could say LeBron James is not top five. You may not have him as your GOAT, but to say that he’s not top five, that’s just crazy. And I love Paul, but I think it’s more personal than anything.”

That is, indeed, the ultimate disrespect by Pierce. And he owned up to it entirely the next day on “NBA Countdown”:

“You know the crazy thing about it was, it was a preseason game, that didn’t mean anything,” Pierce said. “I don’t know, me and LeBron going back and forth, the bench is yelling at something. And I look over at the bench, and I’m like, ‘That’s why y’all are on the bench’ or something, and I spit at them.

“And I’m not sure I hit somebody or not, but I spit in that direction. And then it just kind of — tempers flared up, the next thing you know, we was in the hallway, it was about to go down. That’s just kind of, like, the basis of everything.”

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Hall of Fame NBA coach Jerry Sloan dies at 78; he led Utah Jazz for 23 seasons

Jerry Sloan, the Hall of Fame basketball coach who spent a majority of his coaching career with the Utah Jazz and was a former NBA player with the Chicago Bulls, died on Friday. He was 78 years old.

Sloan announced in 2016 that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia, a terrible combination of neurological disorders.

Sloan said he decided to go public with the diagnosis because the symptoms were noticeable. He also told the "Salt Lake Tribune" he didn’t “want people feeling sorry for me.”

Sloan was one of the greatest coaches in NBA history and is No. 4 on the all-time winningest coaches list with 1,221 victories. Among coaches with at least 500 games coached, he is ninth with a .603 winning percentage.

“Jerry Sloan will always be synonymous with the Utah Jazz," the team said in a statement. "He will forever be a part of the Utah Jazz organization and we join his family, friends and fans in mourning his loss. We are so thankful for what he accomplished here in Utah and the decades of dedication, loyalty and tenacity he brought to our franchise."

Said the Miller family, which owns the Jazz: "“It was an honor and a privilege to have one of the greatest and most respected coaches in NBA history coaching our team. We have appreciated our relationship with Jerry and acknowledge his dedication to and passion for the Utah Jazz.

"He has left an enduring legacy with this franchise and our family. The far-reaching impact of his life has touched our city, state and the world as well as countless players, staff and fans. We pray his family will find solace and comfort in Jerry’s life. The Miller family and Jazz organization will be proud to honor him with a permanent tribute."

He spent 23 seasons with Utah, and Sloan and San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich are the only coaches in NBA history to win 1,000 games with one team. In his 26 seasons – three with the Bulls – he had just three losing seasons and just one losing season in his two-plus decades with Utah.

Late in the 2010-11 season, citing lack of energy, Sloan resigned even though Jazz ownership and the front office tried to persuade him to finish the season.

Sloan guided the Jazz to consecutive playoff appearances and 13 seasons with at least 50 victories, including 64 victories in 1996-97 and 62 victories in 1997-98. Coached by Sloan and led on the court by Karl Malone and John Stockton, the Jazz won the Western Conference title both of those seasons but lost to Chicago and Michael Jordan in the NBA Finals each time.

Jerry Sloan, basketball, 1942-2020 (Photo: Robert Hanashiro, USA TODAY)

Sloan was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2009.

“Being inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame is an achievement unsurpassed in my career,” Sloan said at his induction ceremony. “From my beginning in McLeansboro (Illinois), the game of basketball has introduced me to opportunities and life experiences I never dreamed. I was a youngster – the youngest of 10 children – raised by my mother on a farm which was located 16 miles from the nearest town.

“My father passed away when I was 4 years old and older brothers and sisters had to help take care of our family. They could not play basketball because they had to work. Fortunately for me, my family was instrumental in my decision to play and their support was unwavering.”

Born in McLeansboro in 1942, Sloan attended the first six years of elementary school in a one-room school and sometimes had to walk or hitchhike to high school basketball practice.

Sloan became an all-state player in high school and played college basketball at Evansville. The Baltimore Bullets drafted Sloan in 1965 with the No. 4 overall pick and traded him to Chicago the following season. With the Bulls, Sloan was a shooting guard-small forward with a knack for defense. He averaged 14 points and 7.4 rebounds in his 11-year career, was a two-time All-Star and named all-first team defense four times.

After he retired in 1976, Sloan took the head coaching job at his alma mater but withdrew from the position five days later. That season, the Evansville basketball team and coaching staff died in a plane crash.

"It comes across my mind every morning I go to work," Sloan told a reporter in 1997.

Sloan joined the Bulls as a scout and became head coach in 1979. He spent three seasons and was fired after 51 games of the 1981-82 season. He became an assistant with the Jazz in 1985 and became head coach in 1988, taking over for Frank Layden.

Stockton was in his fifth season and Malone in his fourth. Under Sloan, Stockton and Malone turned the Jazz into an annual playoff team.

“He demanded a lot. He expected a lot. He held everybody accountable,” Malone told reporters in 2014. “I grew up the old-school way with my grandma and my mom. You hold that person accountable. You tell that person when they’re screwing up and you tell the person what he needs to do. That’s how Coach was with me. Right off the bat, I knew I was dealing with a real person.”

Sloan, who often ate his pre-game dinner in the media dining room alongside reporters, loved defense, but he had two offensive weapons in Stockton and Malone. They became a formidable 1-2 punch and perfected the pick-and-roll. Malone is the NBA’s second all-time leading scorer, and Stockton is No. 1 in all-time assists – with 3,715 more than Jason Kidd at No. 2.

“He was a genius,” Stockton told reporters. “You had to motivate guys without burying them. You had to credit them without egos running amok.”

Sloan was a no-nonsense coach who never strayed far from his Midwestern farmer’s values of hard work, dedication and loyalty. Away from the game, Sloan loved to wear John Deere hats and collected antique tractors, furniture, old cash registers and pottery.

“What you see is what you get,” Malone said. “That guy never changed in all these years with me. … He never demanded respect. He earned it by who he was as a person and the way he treated you as a player.”

When Sloan retired, then-NBA Commissioner David Stern released a statement.

"Few people have epitomized all the positives of team sports more than Jerry Sloan," the statement read. "A basketball lifer, Jerry was as relentless in his will to win on the sidelines for the Utah Jazz as he was as an All-Star guard for the Chicago Bulls. In over two decades as a coach, he taught his players that nothing was more important than the team. His most impressive qualities were his leadership and his extraordinary ability to encourage his players to subjugate their individual games for the benefit of the whole."

In 2017, at a reunion for the 1996-97 team, Sloan said, “I’ve been lucky to stick around as long as I have. This organization has been more than fair to me and my family.”

Follow Jeff Zillgitt on Twitter @JeffZillgitt

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Rare Mike Trout rookie card sells for record-tying $900,000

Mike Trout continues to reach amazing new heights, even when he's not on the field. 

In this case, Trout's 2009 rookie baseball card — an autographed Bowman Draft Chrome Red Refractor — sold Wednesday at Goldin Auctions for $900,000, tying the modern record for a sports card.

A LeBron James/Michael Jordan card with pieces of game-worn jerseys from both players, also sold for $900,000 in February.

The 2009 Trout card features the Los Angeles Angels outfielder's first autograph in an MLB uniform and is one of only five in existence. A one-of-a-kind Trout Superfractor card fetched $400,000 in May 2018.

This Mike Trout autographed rookie card sold for $900,000 tonight! pic.twitter.com/kJVbihIJhH

Goldin’s Spring 2020 Premium Auction was delayed from its scheduled May 16 date because of server issues with bidding split into three sessions. 

The Trout card was one of two sold in the May 20 session. The other was a 2009 Trout Bowman Chrome Draft Blue Refractor Autograph, which went for $67,200. Other items featuring Jordan, James and Kobe Bryant were also part of Wednesday's auction.

Bidding will conclude on the rest of the auction items on Thursday and Saturday.

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Giannis unsure of ‘Greek Freak’ roots but loves it

Coming to America from Greece, as a teenager, was not always the smoothest transition for Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo. Before “Giannis” became a household name, those who couldn’t pronounce his last name, in addition to his rare freakish athletic ability and ball-handling skills at his size, often called the NBA’s reigning MVP “The Greek Freak”.

But as popular as the nickname has become, Antetokounmpo can’t recall the first person responsible for it.

“First of all, the nickname is really good. I like it,” Antetokounmpo said during his Thursday morning appearance on Capture Sports Marketing’s Athletes Doing Good Radiothon with his teammate Pat Connaughton on ESPN Wisconsin.

“I don’t remember the first time I heard about it, it was probably my rookie year, but I really don’t know who came up with it,” he continued. “I just went on the court one day and I had a like a crazy dunk or a crazy block and after that everyone started calling me the Greek Freak. So, it stuck by me, I love it and it’s a cool nickname.”

Although Antetokounmpo has embraced the on-court moniker, he accepts the difference between his basketball perception in comparison to his laid-back personal life. As a father to his newborn son, Liam, Antetokounmpo has learned how to turn it off and on when the time is right. But that took time while also leaning on veteran players to help him during the process.

“The most important thing is you can not lose yourself in it. There’s a lot of pressure, there’s a lot of things that are going to try to pull you from ‘come this way, do this.’ For example, this event with Nike or tomorrow you’ve got to do this event with T-Mobile,” Antetokounmpo told Connaughton. “Like, there’s so many things that you’re going to have in front of you that you’ve got to do but you’ve just got to be able to balance your personal life with the Greek Freak life. Giannis and the Greek Freak are two different people. I hope that doesn’t sound arrogant, I’m not trying to sound arrogant, but that’s how I’m trying to think. I’m trying to think when I’m with my family, I’m with my family. Sometimes when you’re the MVP, you’re the leader of the team, you’ve got to do a photoshoot and all that you lose yourself and whenever I’m with my family, I’m myself.”

Bucks general manager Jon Horst was another guest on Connaughton’s Radiothon to raise funds for COVID-19 relief where he reiterated that no decisions have been made on the remainder of the 2019-20 NBA season just yet. On Monday, May 11, Horst announced the reopening of the Buck’s practice facility on a limited basis. Throughout the hiatus, Milwaukee has continued to operate as if the organization will continue play as they’re nursing the NBA’s best record (53-12) and the “Greek Freak” itching to return to the court.

“I have complete confidence that if there’s a way for us to return to basketball, return to play, in a healthy and safe manner, for our players and for the public and people that would be involved that our league will figure out how to do it,” Horst said. “Commissioner Silver is incredible.”

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The all-time starting five for every NBA Eastern Conference team

What if Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen could’ve played alongside prime Derrick Rose? How many titles would the Celtics have won if Larry Bird and Bill Russell were on the same team? Imagine LeBron James taking his talents to South Beach to team up not only with Dwyane Wade, but Tim Hardaway and Alonzo Mourning too.

We asked our NBA writers to come up with an all-time starting five for every current NBA franchise, along with one additional blast from the past. Only a player’s contributions during his time with that franchise were considered (so, no, Jordan isn’t on the Wizards’ list).

In this era of “positionless” basketball, traditional positions don’t matter quite as much as they used to, so we allowed some flexibility in choosing a lineup — but you won’t see teams with four centers or three point guards. The idea was to dive into each team’s history and create a group that could at least potentially share the floor together.

Over the next two days, we’ll roll out the lineups, starting with the Eastern Conference.

Atlanta Hawks

G: Lou Hudson
G: Cliff Hagan
F: Dominique Wilkins
F: Bob Pettit
C: Al Horford

Because we are including Atlanta’s prior history in St. Louis, this was one of the most straightforward lists in the league. Hudson was a six-time All-Star who averaged over 20 points per game seven times. Hagan was a 6-foot-4 forward in his era who, for the purposes of this list, is going to play as a guard.

The forward spots provide plenty of scoring. Wilkins is the franchise’s leader in points, and both he and Pettit averaged 26.4 points per game for their Hawks careers. Pettit also chipped in 16 rebounds per game, and he paired with Hagan on one of the two teams that were able to prevent Bill Russell from winning a championship during his career.

Horford made four All-Star teams during his nine years with the Hawks, and his versatility helped Atlanta return to respectability.

— Tim Bontemps

Boston Celtics

G: Bob Cousy
G: John Havlicek
F: Paul Pierce
F: Larry Bird
C: Bill Russell

With the depth and breadth of history the Celtics have accrued over the past 70-plus seasons, there are plenty of candidates to be in their all-time starting five. That said, coming up with this list was simpler than expected.

The backcourt is led by Cousy, the NBA’s original great guard who made 12 All-NBA teams and won six championships. He’s joined by Havlicek, a Swiss Army knife in human form who fits perfectly on this team as its shooting guard. The frontcourt has two equally obvious choices: Russell, the greatest winner in the history of the sport, and Bird, a three-time MVP.

The one difficult decision was at the remaining spot, where there were two deserving choices: Kevin McHale and Pierce. In the end, Pierce’s Finals MVP helps him earn the nod.

— Bontemps

Brooklyn Nets

G: Jason Kidd
G: Vince Carter
F: Julius Erving
F: Buck Williams
C: Brook Lopez

Kidd, Erving, Williams and Lopez are four of the top five in career win shares for the Nets. Lopez is also the franchise’s leading scorer, having edged Williams by four points in his final game with the team.

Carter might not have been able to get the Nets to the Finals during his tenure, but he does have the third-highest scoring average in team history, behind Rick Barry (who played two seasons with the ABA’s Nets) and Erving. Selecting Carter over Drazen Petrovic was the toughest call. Petrovic — one of only six players in the team’s history whose number is retired — was on his way to joining the NBA’s elite before dying in a car accident at 28.

— Malika Andrews

Charlotte Hornets

G: Kemba Walker
G: Dell Curry
F: Glen Rice
F: Larry Johnson
C: Alonzo Mourning

(NOTE: The NBA considers the original Charlotte Hornets and the renamed Hornets — formerly the Charlotte Bobcats — to be one franchise.)

In 1992, Charlotte’s expansion franchise had a healthy Larry Johnson — the Hornets’ first All-Star — and rookie Mourning, who sunk Boston with a series-clinching game winner to give the Hornets their first playoff series victory in 1993.

But Johnson’s back injury and some internal drama eventually led Charlotte’s star tandem to break up and later become heated rivals during the Knicks-Heat battles. Charlotte has won 50 or more games only three times. But Rice, whom the Hornets got from Miami in the Mourning trade, was the best player on the teams that won 50 games in back-to-back seasons, averaging 26.8 points in 1996-97.

As sweet a marksman as Rice was, Curry is the franchise’s greatest shooter. He and Muggsy Bogues played a significant role in starting the franchise as expansion draft picks, and Curry averaged double figures in points in nine of his 10 seasons in Charlotte.

Walker may now be in Boston, but he left Charlotte as the franchise’s all-time leading scorer and a three-time All-Star.

— Ohm Youngmisuk

Chicago Bulls

G: Derrick Rose
G: Michael Jordan
F: Scottie Pippen
F: Dennis Rodman
C: Artis Gilmore

Jordan and Pippen led the Bulls to six NBA titles, with rebounding machine Rodman joining the legendary duo for the second three-peat.

Gilmore was a four-time All-Star during his Chicago tenure, with an all-league Afro to match his 7-2 frame.

Rose is Chi-Town’s own. Born and raised in the Englewood area on Chicago’s South Side, the shy kid became the youngest MVP in NBA history at 22 years old. Both Jordan and Rose were elite athletes with a cult following to match their rare skill set and would be electrifying to watch in a Windy City backcourt.

— Eric Woodyard

Cleveland Cavaliers

G: Mark Price
G: Kyrie Irving
F: LeBron James
F: Larry Nance
C: Brad Daugherty

You start with James, the greatest player in franchise history and the recipient of the Finals MVP the one and only time the Cavaliers won the championship. You add Irving, who joined him in winning the title by hitting the greatest shot in franchise history in the final minute of Game 7 of the 2016 Finals. Now you look for roster balance.

Price shot 40.9% from 3 during his Cavs career with 7.2 assists per game, and Nance was a high-flying, shot-blocking menace. Price, Nance and Brad Daugherty might have made more noise in the postseason if they didn’t play in the Michael Jordan era.

Center was a tough choice. Tristan Thompson has played his entire career in Cleveland and won a chip, and two-time All-Star Zydrunas Ilgauskas is the franchise leader in blocks. Daugherty, a five-time All-Star, gets the nod for his combination of skill level and mobility for a big man.

— Dave McMenamin

Detroit Pistons

G: Isiah Thomas
G: Joe Dumars
F: Grant Hill
F: Ben Wallace
C: Bob Lanier

Rarely are sports teams able to take on the identity of a city, but when the Pistons are at their best, they’re a reflection of Detroit’s gritty reputation.

Thomas and Dumars were the star backcourt of the Bad Boys squads that won titles in 1989 and 1990. “Big Ben” Wallace was the defensive leader during the “Deee-troit Basketball” era, when the Pistons ended the Shaq/Kobe Lakers era in the 2004 Finals. All of those guys were stars in their own right, with a plethora of talent around them to play team basketball.

Hill might not have been a fan favorite in Detroit after he left for Orlando, but there was no denying his superstar status while in a Pistons uniform. He put up 9,393 points, 3,417 boards and 2,720 assists in his first six seasons, a feat matched only by Larry Bird and Oscar Robertson.

— Woodyard

Indiana Pacers

G: Freddie Lewis
G: Reggie Miller
F: Roger Brown
F: George McGinnis
C: Mel Daniels

ABA fans will be thrilled to see this Pacers team, with four of the five selections coming from the ABA edition of the franchise, which won three championships and featured several Hall of Famers. Three of them — Brown, McGinnis and Daniels — form Indiana’s frontcourt.

Lewis edged out Paul George for the second spot in Indiana’s backcourt. That was the toughest decision to make, but Lewis — who was the ABA playoffs MVP in 1972, made three All-Star teams and was a key member of all three title teams — did enough to edge out George.

The “other” player on the list is only the greatest player in franchise history: Reggie Miller. Not much thought was needed for that one.

— Bontemps

Miami Heat

G: Tim Hardaway
G: Dwyane Wade
F: LeBron James
F: Alonzo Mourning
C: Shaquille O’Neal

Pat Riley built today’s Heat culture on Mourning’s intensity and strength and Hardaway’s grit and talent. The duo led Miami to five consecutive postseasons, including the 1997 Eastern Conference finals.

In 2003, Riley drafted Wade, the best and most important player in franchise history. He and O’Neal — who arrived in Miami a year after Wade — delivered the franchise’s first title. Wade, a 13-time All-Star, then helped amass Miami’s superteam with LeBron James and Chris Bosh.

James arrived in South Beach with enormous expectations and his tenure lasted just four seasons. But his Heat legacy is cemented by four consecutive NBA Finals trips, with back-to-back titles in 2012 and 2013, lifting the franchise to another level.

— Youngmisuk

Milwaukee Bucks

G: Oscar Robertson
G: Sidney Moncrief
G: Ray Allen
F: Giannis Antetokounmpo
C: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

The golden era of the Bucks franchise took place in the early 1970s with Abdul-Jabbar and Robertson running the show. Milwaukee hasn’t won a title since that 66-win, 1970-71 squad brought one back to town. Now, there’s a new era underway with Antetokounmpo, the reigning MVP, leading the team back to relevance. Those three picks were no-brainers.

Moncrief (in the 1980s) and Allen (in the ’90s and 2000s) were perennial All-Stars who led their respective teams deep into the playoffs. Although Marques Johnson hasn’t reached the Hall of Fame, it was tough leaving him out of this lineup, but a tough decision had to be made.

— Woodyard

New York Knicks

G: Walt Frazier
G: Earl Monroe
F: Carmelo Anthony
F: Willis Reed
C: Patrick Ewing

The only position that is really up for debate here is Anthony at small forward. During his time in the Empire State, Anthony averaged 24.7 points and 7.0 rebounds per game, so he gets the nod.

As for the locks, Frazier was one of the best at his position, earning six All-NBA nods and seven first-team All-Defense selections. Monroe changed his game to fit Frazier after coming over from Baltimore and helped the Knicks earn their second title in 1973.

Reed will forever be remembered for his gutty Game 7 performance in the 1970 Finals and remains the only Knick to win league MVP honors. And although Ewing is remembered for having never won a championship, he put a team on his back, was selected to 11 All-Star teams and was a member of the Olympic Dream Team.

— Andrews

Orlando Magic

G: Anfernee Hardaway
G: Nick Anderson
F: Tracy McGrady
F: Dwight Howard
C: Shaquille O’Neal

This team can do it on both ends. Good luck trying to score inside against O’Neal and Howard. Both McGrady and O’Neal won scoring titles in a Magic uniform, giving this team offensive firepower. Jameer Nelson is the longest-tenured point guard in team history, but Hardaway played at a different level when he was healthy. People forget just how talented he was both during and after the Shaq era, before the injuries piled up.

As for the final spot, Vince Carter had a few nice years in Orlando, but Anderson is the pick here. His career is defined by those missed free throws in the ’95 Finals, but it shouldn’t be. Longtime Magic fans remember him as a great defender and a player who hit some huge clutch shots over the years. He belongs on this list.

— Nick Friedell

Philadelphia 76ers

G: Allen Iverson
G: Hal Greer
F: Julius Erving
F: Charles Barkley
C: Wilt Chamberlain

Few teams will have a set of names more star-studded than this one. Each player made at least 10 All-Star teams. Four of them won MVP awards, and three of them won championships.

The backcourt features Iverson — because, really, how could it not? — and Greer, who made seven All-NBA teams and was one of the best guards in the 1960s. The forwards? Well, those were easy: Erving, who inspired a generation of players with his high-flying abilities, helped the Sixers win their last title in 1983; and Barkley was a dominant force for the Sixers in the late 1980s and early ’90s before being traded to Phoenix.

Moses Malone was the league MVP during the ’83 championship season, and Dolph Schayes had a long, impressive career with the Syracuse Nationals. But who else could play center on this team but Wilt?

— Bontemps

Toronto Raptors

G: Kyle Lowry
G: DeMar DeRozan
G: Vince Carter
F: Kawhi Leonard
C: Chris Bosh

Lowry is the greatest player in the history of the franchise, having both resurrected it and his career after being traded to Toronto in 2012. DeRozan is Toronto’s all-time leading scorer and is beloved by the team’s fan base.

For a long time, Carter was reviled in Toronto for how he left the franchise in 2004. But there’s no question that he had an indelible impact on the Raptors. Leonard’s championship exploits in his lone season with the franchise were enough to merit his inclusion on this list. Before long, he’ll be passed by Pascal Siakam, but that day hasn’t arrived yet.

Bosh played seven years in Toronto, with five consecutive All-Star berths. His production with the Raptors is unquestioned, and there isn’t anyone who could come close to pushing him for this spot.

— Bontemps

Washington Wizards

G: John Wall
G: Earl Monroe
F: Gus Johnson
F: Elvin Hayes
C: Wes Unseld

Hayes and Unseld are the greatest Bullets, a Hall of Fame frontcourt combo that reached three NBA Finals, delivering D.C. its lone championship in 1978.

Johnson was one of the first power forwards to play above the rim. And while Monroe is often thought of as a Knick, “The Pearl” spent his first four seasons with the Baltimore Bullets, dazzling fans and opponents with his playground moves and posting averages of 24.3, 25.8, 23.4 and 21.4 points per game. Monroe, Unseld and Johnson led the Bullets to their first Finals appearance in 1971.

Bradley Beal is emerging into a force, a healthy Phil Chenier was one of the franchise’s best and Gilbert Arenas brought fireworks (good and bad) to D.C. But Wall has been a Wizard for a decade and is the team’s all-time assists and steals leader.

— Youngmisuk

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Inside the Hail Mary that almost kept the ‘Last Dance’ Bulls together

  • Senior writer for ESPN.com
  • Spent seven years at the Los Angeles Daily News

NEARLY 22 YEARS have passed since Chicago Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf took one last shot at keeping the team together, but he remembers the meeting like it was yesterday.

“I remember the date,” Reinsdorf said. “It was July the 3rd in 1998.”

The Bulls had won their third straight NBA title and sixth in eight years less than a month earlier. All season long, the team had been playing with a sense of finality, knowing, as viewers saw in ESPN’s 10-part docuseries “The Last Dance,” that the 1997-98 season would almost certainly be their last together.

But Reinsdorf felt he had to try to resurrect things, for the team’s sake, as much as for history.

So a few days into what would become a protracted NBA lockout, he scheduled a meeting with Michael Jordan to pitch him on one more last dance.

“Don’t say anything now,” Reinsdorf told Jordan. “We’re in a lockout. We don’t know how long this lockout is going to go. Let’s get to the end, and maybe I can talk Phil [Jackson] back into it. Maybe after … maybe he’ll change his mind. So don’t say anything.”

MORE: How five weeks of ‘The Last Dance’ changed the way we think of Michael Jordan

Jordan reaffirmed that he wouldn’t play for anyone but Jackson, but he agreed to Reinsdorf’s request not to make any final decisions until the owner could make one last run at the coach.

It was a Hail Mary, but not as far-fetched a plan as it seemed. The season before, Reinsdorf had pulled off a similar resurrection — vetoing a trade that would’ve sent Scottie Pippen to the Boston Celtics for two draft picks (general manager Jerry Krause would’ve taken Ron Mercer and Tracy McGrady) and flying to Montana just before training camp to convince Jackson to sign a one-year deal.

Maybe the extra downtime created by the lockout would heal the wounds gashed open in the conflicts among Krause, Jackson and the players during the season.

Maybe Jordan could convince the perennially underpaid Pippen to come back on a one-year deal.

Maybe Jackson would like the idea of going for a four-peat, in a strike-shortened season.

It was certainly worth a try. But this time Jackson’s answer was different.

“I asked Phil to come back,” Reinsdorf said. “And he says, ‘No, it’s time.’ That was the expression he used, ‘It’s time.'”

Too much blood had been spilled in the war with Krause. Too many goodbyes had already been said. As we saw in the final episode of the docuseries, Jackson had even taken the team through a ritual he had learned from his wife, June, a hospice nurse, who told him how families she worked with would write down their final messages to each other, put them in a coffee can and burn them so those words would never be spoken again.

Jackson had moved on. The team had moved on. It was time.

In recent correspondence, Jackson politely declined to revisit the ending of the Bulls dynasty. The 1998 Bulls had become a family, he explained, and he would like to remember them as they were, without assigning blame for their breakup or playing out hypotheticals.

But it’s impossible not to wonder: Did it really have to be the last dance?

REINSDORF KNOWS THE question is coming. By now, he can sense when someone is going to ask him why the Bulls broke up or if he wishes he had done something different to stop it.

He has watched each episode of “The Last Dance” at least twice, wondering if something would reveal itself in retrospect.

But he always ends up back at the same place.

“The thing nobody wants to remember,” Reinsdorf said, “during lockout, Michael was screwing around with a cigar cutter, and he cut his finger. He couldn’t have played that year. He had to have surgery on the finger, so even if we could’ve brought everybody back, it wouldn’t have made any sense.”

Jordan contends that he wouldn’t have been messing around with the cigar cutter (at a golf tournament in January) if Reinsdorf had already secured a commitment from Jackson to come back.

But even so, Reinsdorf doesn’t think it would have made much difference.

“The fact is, it’s pretty obvious in 1998 that Michael carried this team,” he said. “These guys were gassed. He could not have come back because of the cut finger. But even if he could’ve come back, the other players [Steve Kerr, Luc Longley, Jud Buechler, Dennis Rodman] were going to get offers that were way in excess of what they were worth.

“I know in Episode 10, [Jordan] says, ‘They all would’ve come back for one year.’ But there’s not a chance in the world that Scottie Pippen would’ve come back on a one-year contract when he knew he could get a much bigger contract someplace else.”

Pippen ended up getting a five-year, $67.2 million offer from the Houston Rockets in January 1999 (consummated by a sign-and-trade with the Bulls).

Theoretically, the Bulls could have retained Pippen and their other free agents, as the NBA didn’t have a punitive luxury tax at the time. But Reinsdorf and Krause felt matching that contract for Pippen was simply out of the question for a player who already had suffered several major injuries during his time with the Bulls, and for a team that already had the highest payroll in the league, at $61.6 million, in 1998, when the salary cap was just $26.9 million.

Those are the factual reasons Reinsdorf felt, and still feels, like keeping that Bulls team together for another season was impossible.

But just as important, if not more so, are the spiritual reasons.

More than once, Reinsdorf said he went to Jackson and Krause and tried to get them to mend the rift that had developed between them and spread viciously throughout the team.

“I would tell Jerry, ‘Get over it, get over it already.'” Reinsdorf said. “But Jerry was a lover scorned. He was so proud of the fact that he had found Phil [in the Continental Basketball Association] and he turned out to be a brilliant coach. Then when he felt that Phil turned on him, he was not going to like Phil again.”

How had Jackson turned on Krause?

“He thought that Phil could’ve stopped Michael and Scottie from being so adversarial,” Reinsdorf said. “Phil could’ve stepped in, he could’ve stopped it, and it really bothered Jerry.”

Of course, Krause could have mended fences with Jordan and Pippen on his own. Or simply made an effort not to antagonize the situation by publicly acknowledging trade conversations involving Pippen and giving hostile comments about Jackson or the infamous “organizations win championships” line.

“When he made that comment, ‘Phil goes 82-0, he’s not coming back,'” Reinsdorf said he admonished Krause. “I told him that was ridiculous, he had no business saying it. He realized it. But he couldn’t walk it back.”

More like “wouldn’t” walk it back.

“I didn’t choose anybody,” Reinsdorf said. “I went to Phil and said, ‘This is a mismatch, you against Krause. Why don’t you back off? Why don’t you get the players to back off?’

“I told Krause, ‘Take Phil for what he is. We’re winning. We’re winning, so forget about it; the important thing is the winning. You don’t have to like each other.’

“I didn’t get through to either of them.”

That choice — not to make a choice between Krause and Jackson — is perhaps the only thing that could have changed the course of history, because the two men never reconciled.

“Years later, when Phil was coaching the Lakers and they were coming to Phoenix, I’d have lunch with him,” Reinsdorf said. “At one of those lunches, he said, ‘I’d really like to bury the hatchet with Jerry,’ and he asked me to be the middleman.”

Reinsdorf reached out to Krause, and, “Jerry said, no, he wouldn’t do it.”

IT IS STILL hard for everyone involved to digest why things ended as they did. But it usually goes that way when a good thing ends.

Only a few teams in NBA history have been able to weather the sustained pressure and intensity of consecutive championship runs, let alone the modern complication of the luxury tax, which was designed to level the playing field and break superteams apart.

The Golden State Warriors petered out after five straight trips to the NBA Finals, collapsing from a series of devastating injuries and collective exhaustion.

Jackson’s Lakers lost in five games to the Detroit Pistons in 2004 as they went for a fourth title in five years, and Los Angeles was swept in the conference semifinals by the Dallas Mavericks in 2011 as it went for a three-peat.

The 2010s Miami Heat featuring Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh broke up after winning “not five, not six, not seven” titles, as James had hoped, but just two in four years.

Perhaps Jackson was right when he turned down Reinsdorf’s offer of another last dance, saying, “It’s time.”

In his book “Eleven Rings,” Jackson wrote simply, “I took comfort in the knowledge that letting go is a necessary, if sometimes heart-wrenching, gateway to genuine transformation.”

Reinsdorf still wishes the Bulls could have gone for one more title, but he said he also is now at peace with how things ended. As he has watched and relived the glory years of the Bulls dynasty throughout the 10-episode series, the resounding emotion he has felt is appreciation, not regret.

“Can there be any doubt that Michael Jordan was the greatest player of all time?” he said. “I mean, I don’t want to hear anybody ever again ask about Michael versus LeBron.

“There has never ever been anybody even close to Michael Jordan.”

MORE: How five weeks of ‘The Last Dance’ changed the way we think of Michael Jordan

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Michael Jordan’s first Air Jordan trainers sold for more than half a million dollars

Michael Jordan’s autographed match-worn sneakers from his rookie season fetched a record $560,000 in an online auction, Sotheby’s said on Sunday.

The Air Jordan 1s, designed for Jordan in 1985 and the first ever signature sneakers, were expected to fetch between $100,000 to $150,000 in the auction that closed on Sunday.

  • ‘MJ’s winner? There was nothing I could do

Sotheby’s held its first auction dedicated entirely to sneakers last year and had then set a world record of $437,500 for a pair of 1972 Nike running shoes known as the Moon Shoe.

Like most of Jordan’s basketball shoes, they are a mismatched pair in a size 13 (left) and size 13.5 (right).

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Too young to know the GOAT: How today’s NBA players learned to love Jordan

    Ohm Youngmisuk has covered the Giants, Jets and the NFL since 2006. Prior to that, he covered the Nets, Knicks and the NBA for nearly a decade. He joined ESPNNewYork.com after working at the New York Daily News for almost 12 years and is a graduate of Michigan State University.

    Follow him on Twitter »  Ohm’s chat archive »

MICHAEL JORDAN WAS walking back to his chair in the Washington Wizards locker room when assistant coach Patrick Ewing introduced him to a new fan.

It was March 1, 2003, and 6-year-old Jalen Brunson was in town with his father, Rick, who was playing for the Chicago Bulls. Jalen, who collected NBA jerseys at every arena, was proudly wearing his new, white Wizards No. 23 when the legend himself asked the kid if he wanted it autographed.

“No,” Jalen replied. “You’ll mess it up.”

As the Wizards players erupted with laughter, Ewing marched out of the locker room and yelled down the hall to Rick, his former New York Knicks teammate, about what had just happened. The most unstoppable player of that generation — and perhaps any — had been soundly rejected by a first-grader.

This season, 14 NBA players on opening-night rosters were born after Jan. 1, 2000. As Jordan’s six championships with the Bulls become more of a distant memory, the next generation’s exposure to him has almost been exclusively through grainy video on the internet or classic games aired on TV.

ESPN’s documentary “The Last Dance” is providing a comprehensive look at a man considered by many to be the greatest ever, the player every kid wanted an autograph from — except maybe one.

“He didn’t know the magnitude of who he was talking to,” Rick Brunson said of his son, who is now a point guard for the Dallas Mavericks. “He was like, ‘Nah, you can’t sign this.’

“Basically, he looked at [Jordan] like, ‘Who the f— are you?'”

MORE: “The Last Dance” updates

ON THE WEDNESDAY before the first two episodes of “The Last Dance,” Jalen Brunson came across a trailer for the documentary that led him down a Jordan rabbit hole.

Soon, the 23-year-old guard was on YouTube, watching a 12-minute video of Jordan, wearing No. 45, dropping 55 on the Knicks in just the fifth game of his comeback in March 1995.

Afterward, Brunson called his dad with a burning question.

“Why they got John Starks guarding him?” he asked.

Rick Brunson, a 10-year NBA veteran, got a good chuckle and had to explain to his son — who was born in 1996, the year before Starks won the Sixth Man Award — that the former Knicks guard had been a second-team All-NBA defender.

“I said, ‘Listen, man, John Starks guarded all the best players,'” said Rick, who coached Camden High School in New Jersey last season. “And John would lock people up. He just couldn’t lock this guy up. Jalen said, ‘[Jordan] just makes it look so easy.’ I said, ‘He shot 50% from the floor. Fifty!'”

Jalen Brunson is one of many players today who have heard an older friend, family member or high school coach wax poetic about “the flu game” or the six championships without facing an NBA Finals Game 7.

Inevitably, these players often turn to the internet as their Jordan encyclopedia.

“All I know about Michael Jordan is through YouTube videos and the stories from old heads,” said former Vanderbilt star Aaron Nesmith, who was born in 1999 and is projected as a top-15 pick in the 2020 NBA draft. “I was actually arguing with my high school coach the other day [over] why Michael Jordan is the GOAT.

“For my generation, LeBron [James] is the GOAT. And he was arguing that Michael Jordan is the clear-cut GOAT — there is no ifs, ands or buts.”

YouTube has not only informed a new generation about Jordan, it’s also serving as an educational tool for some developing prospects.

Nesmith said he was in awe of how Jordan effortlessly found holes in the Portland Trail Blazers’ defense and elevated on his pull-up jumpers. “He rose up over the defender and killed them,” Nesmith said after his high school coach told him to watch Game 1 of the 1992 NBA Finals.

For a generation accustomed to watching basketball in crystal-clear high definition, adjusting their eyes to fuzzy and distorted Jordan highlights is like their parents watching black-and-white footage of Wilt Chamberlain or Bill Russell.

“They’re not HD, sometimes you can’t really see what’s going on. It’s not good picture,” Nesmith said. “So you’re like, ‘Eh, I’ll just flip to something else.'”

For some, seeing final scores in the low 80s or the Detroit Pistons repeatedly grabbing and decking Jordan might feel like prehistoric basketball.

“The one thing I do see a lot, I see that game winner he hit at UNC,” said Cole Anthony, a 19-year-old North Carolina point guard who is projected as a top-15 prospect in the upcoming NBA draft. “I don’t [normally] look at things like this, [but] I’m looking at the court and there’s no 3-point line.

“I’m looking at that and I’m like, ‘Man, that had to be a while ago.'”

THIRTY YEARS AFTER Jordan celebrated his game winner over Craig Ehlo in Game 5 of a first-round series against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Kyle Guy jumped as high as he could while pumping his fist as the final seconds ticked off in Virginia’s national championship win over Texas Tech.

It was a celebration the 2019 Final Four Most Outstanding Player had seen a hundred times, even in his sleep. When Guy was 6, he received a “Michael Jordan to the Max” documentary DVD that he wore out.

“I used to have to always fall asleep with something on,” said Guy, now a Sacramento Kings rookie. “So that was usually a go-to.”

During his senior year at Lawrence Central High School in Indiana, Guy used his two study hall periods a day to dissect clips of Jordan, paying close attention to Jordan’s game winners and patented fadeaway.

“I definitely learned [the post-up fadeaway] from Mike,” said Guy, who was born in 1997, just a few months before Jordan began his final season with the Bulls.

“I still work on it in my workouts,” the 6-foot-3 guard added. “I just don’t get to use it very often because everyone is bigger than me.”

Onyeka Okongwu, who left USC after one season and is projected as a top-10 prospect in the draft, remembers not appreciating Jordan’s talents — until Okongwu was older and more skilled at basketball. Like many young players, Okongwu’s first choice as GOAT is LeBron James.

“When I was about 8 years old, I am watching LeBron play on TV at my friend’s house, and I was like, ‘Wow, LeBron is the best player ever,'” Okongwu said. “And my friend’s dad was like, ‘You must not have seen Michael Jordan.’

“I’m like, ‘Who’s Michael Jordan?'”

Okongwu was instructed to look up the Bulls legend online.

“I was initially like, ‘That’s not better than LeBron,'” said Okongwu, who was born in 2000. “As I got older, I realized back then the NBA was tougher, more physical, a lot of fights were going around. There’s handchecking and he was still doing the same thing.

“I was like, ‘Wow, Michael Jordan is really elite.'”

One thing these younger NBA players — and those on the verge of entering the league — agree on is that it’s nearly impossible to be a hardcore basketball player and not know anything about Jordan.

“Any kid coming up through high school, they’re going to have to watch Michael Jordan clips if they’re serious about basketball,” Nesmith said. “And I think that is not going to fade for generations.”

WHEN DEVONTE’ GRAHAM’s draft rights were acquired by the Charlotte Hornets in 2018, it wasn’t a question of whether the kid from Raleigh, North Carolina, knew of the Bulls legend, it was the realization that he now answered to him.

“One of my friends was like, ‘Yo, Michael Jordan is your owner,'” said Graham, who grew up hearing tales of the state’s greatest basketball product.

“We started celebrating that even more than me getting drafted.”

On one of his first days in the Hornets facility, the rookie nearly froze when he ran into Jordan, who bought controlling interest in the Charlotte franchise in 2010.

“I was just like, ‘Oh, s—,'” Graham said. “[Jordan] said my name and shook my hand. He said, ‘What’s up?’ He told me to cut my hair.

“I was hyped. I was real starstruck.”

That awe formally collided with his occupation the next year, seven games into the 2019-20 season. The Hornets were taking on the Indiana Pacers at home. Late in the game, Graham had an opportunity to take his defender one-on-one but passed, resulting in an empty possession. Jordan, sitting near the Charlotte bench, pulled Graham to the side during a break.

“He told me, ‘Hey, don’t pass the ball,'” Graham said. “‘At the end of the shot clock, you got the ball in your hands, you got to make the play.'”

The second-year guard scored the final seven points for Charlotte to claim 35 points and six assists in an overtime win.

“That right there really inspired me,” Graham said. “If he believes in me like that, I have to have that same energy for myself.”

ONE OF THE first memories of Jordan that comes to mind for Cole Anthony is from the third grade, when someone told him that his father and Jordan nearly fought.

Cole was only 3 when Jordan retired for good as a member of the Wizards. So he never got to watch his father, 11-year NBA veteran Greg Anthony, play in one of the many Bulls-Knicks rivalry games as a New York point guard during the ’90s. And unlike the Brunsons, Greg and Cole Anthony did not often talk about Jordan.

“Really? My dad?” Cole asked at the time, incredulous when told his father got into a scuffle with Jordan. “Word?”

Anthony immediately went to YouTube and soon discovered what many young basketball players have unearthed by typing “Michael Jordan” into a search bar.

“I mean, the moral of the story is: He was busting my dad’s ass,” Anthony said.

“It was a lot of Jordan kind of busting the Knicks’ ass. … Excuse my French.”

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NCAA extends deadline to pull out of NBA draft

The NCAA announced Wednesday that it has extended indefinitely the deadline for college basketball players to withdraw from the NBA draft and retain their college eligibility.

The deadline had been June 3, but Dan Gavitt, the NCAA’s senior vice president of basketball, said in a statement it would be extended “with the health and well-being of our student-athletes in mind, along with their ability to make the most informed decisions during this uncertain time.”

Gavitt said in his statement that a new withdrawal date would be set once the league has determined a timeline for the 2020 pre-draft process.

The NBA has already postponed the draft combine, which gives potential draftees the opportunity to work out for teams in a group setting. The traditional deadline for withdrawing from the draft and maintaining college eligibility is 10 days after the combine.

On May 1, the NBA board of governors voted to postpone the combine and the draft lottery, both set for May in Chicago. The league hasn’t yet voted to delay the NBA draft on June 25, but there is an increasing belief that it’s just a matter of time, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

The league is still working on a plan for a potential resumption of play for this season.

The NBA’s deadline for withdrawing from the draft and maintaining draft eligibility is currently set for June 15. That deadline is largely for international players.

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