The Last Dance

Deathofthebambino

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So, haven't shared this much over the years, but my brother is really good friends with MJ (my nieces and nephews call him Uncle Mike). They met down at the Atlantis in the Bahamas when Jordan would hold his annual charity golf tournament every year and my brother would go down with his wife and her family during the same time (it was usually over New Years). Coincidentally, they met playing baccarat and have gambled together dozens of times since. Jordan loves the action, but given what he's worth and the amounts he plays, I doubt for a second that he was ever in financial trouble due to gambling. Every time Jordan is in town, or my brother is in a city where he is, they get together.

Interestingly enough, Jordan introduced my brother to Tito at his charity tournament, so now every year, my brother plays with Tito and Kevin Nealon (and whoever the fourth is that Jordan lines up with them). The tournament is now held in Vegas every year, and my brother goes out every year with the wife and kids. He's also become really close to Tito as a result, and texts him pretty regulary, along with former NFL WR, Andre Johnson (I know, odd pairing).

Anyway, don't have much more to add other than I truly believe as does my brother that Jordan just wanted a break, and really wanted to try something different after his father's death. David Stern would have been insane to suspend him. Jordan was never alleged to have gambled on basketball games, so why would Stern even get involved? Because he was gambling on a golf course? At a casino? If you're going to suspend NBA players for that, well....I don't buy it at all. Of course, I was in college when all of this was going down, and I haven't looked at the stories surrounding it in depth since then, when I was mostly drunk, but am I missing something?
 

bankshot1

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Maybe losing $1 million on a golf bet is small potatos to Jordan, or maybe its real money, but the possibility of him getting in over his head and getting compromised by bad guys, who could offer a simple solution for making him better, had to be an issue that Stern discussed with MJ and investigated.

MJ was huge to the league, but he was not so huge that a possible gambling scandal (point-shaving ) could be totally dismissed. There's a lot of smoke on this one, but i don't know if there was a fire. And I don't expect a Jordan-produced documentary where he has final cut to dig deeply into the story.
 

67YAZ

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The series makes a very compelling case - what really should be the last word on the subject - that the immediate catalyst for Jordan stepping away was his father's murder. The film actually does a lot of good work weaving in the other threads that prompted that decision - the crushing level of celebrity & media attention MJ lived under, the sky-high and exacting standards he held himself and all his teammates to, the horrific accusations that his gambling led to his father's murder, and a growing desire to step away to a new challenge. Honestly, it's remarkable that Jordan could channel his energy and attention into a new sport and didn't just go off on a wild 10-year bender.

To me, the kind of material and storytelling around the first retirement is the upside to having Jordan's deep involvement in the film. We get MJ's unvarnished take along with his mother's and father's and close friends'. So far as I can tell, this is the closest we can get to really understanding what was going through Jordan's mind at that time, much closer than anyone trying to cobble together the story from the outside.

That said, a truly independent filmmaker would have dug deeper into who Michael was hanging around and gambling with in the early-90s. We would have heard from Craig Hodges. We would have gotten a look at how the influx of money, fame, and endorsements changed the NBA in the wake of Jordan's megastardom. And we would get some critical looks at how the sneaker companies have reshaped the game from the youth levels on up. I think many critics are right in pointing out the key social/political/cultural questions left unexplored in favor of so many game recaps and stories that basically reveal the same thing over and over again - dude was an intense competitor.

Also, I'd love to have heard from LeBron about MJ's first retirement. It seems to me that LeBron is the NBA superstar who has come closest to MJ's level of celebrity and media attention, but he also learned from Jordan's example and blazed a new trail. In so many ways, LeBron's public stances on race, the sliver of his charity work that he publicizes, his clearly strategic media presence are all directly informed by MJ grappling with the same problems a generation earlier.
 

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I would have loved to see Rodman guard KD. Them that were watching the Celts when Michael Cooper and Rodman made their reputations guarding, or trying to guard, Larry Bird knows that Rodman would have gotten in KD's head. KD seems soft mentally and Rodman aggressively guarding him like he was allowed to guard Bird would have been something to watch.
 

lexrageorge

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Maybe losing $1 million on a golf bet is small potatos to Jordan, or maybe its real money, but the possibility of him getting in over his head and getting compromised by bad guys, who could offer a simple solution for making him better, had to be an issue that Stern discussed with MJ and investigated.

MJ was huge to the league, but he was not so huge that a possible gambling scandal (point-shaving ) could be totally dismissed. There's a lot of smoke on this one, but i don't know if there was a fire. And I don't expect a Jordan-produced documentary where he has final cut to dig deeply into the story.
I do find the possibility of Jordan making some big bets with some folks that had ties to unsavory characters plausible. I do find it possible that Stern may have heard rumors that got him concerned enough to investigate and to discuss with Jordan. However, barring any evidence that I believe would likely have leaked by now, the story likely stopped there.
 

coremiller

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I would have loved to see Rodman guard KD. Them that were watching the Celts when Michael Cooper and Rodman made their reputations guarding, or trying to guard, Larry Bird knows that Rodman would have gotten in KD's head. KD seems soft mentally and Rodman aggressively guarding him like he was allowed to guard Bird would have been something to watch.
KD is three inches taller, has a wingpsan 8 inches longer, and is far more athletically explosive than Bird was. Rodman was only 6'7" (albeit with very long arms). Durant could just shoot over Rodman in a way that Bird never could.
 

bankshot1

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I do find the possibility of Jordan making some big bets with some folks that had ties to unsavory characters plausible. I do find it possible that Stern may have heard rumors that got him concerned enough to investigate and to discuss with Jordan. However, barring any evidence that I believe would likely have leaked by now, the story likely stopped there.
I think the problem is the NBA's transparency and inherent conflict of interest. IIRC (no guarantees its accurate) within a few days of Jordan "retiring" the NBA investigation was dropped, with the NBA/Stern saying he did nothing wrong. As if gambling with known drug dealer (MJ was less than forthright about it, but came clean under oath) was ok with the NBA. But I agree barring evidence that might have been uncovered, its all speculation about his retirement. And dead men tell no tales.
 

Deathofthebambino

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Like I said, it's been a while, but I still think people are way too easy to paint Jordan as someone who was hanging out with these guys on the regular. They were guys that hung around golf courses and Hilton Head and played high end poker and golf. Shit, I've been playing in high end poker cash games for a long time in houses, at country clubs, etc., and it doesn't mean everyone at the table knows each other. The amount of money that goes across the table would make most people blush, and one of the unwritten rules you have in these games is you never have cash laying around. The buy-ins are always done with markers, for two reasons, the first so that if the game got busted, there is no actual cash and the second, is so the game doesn't get robbed. Back in those days, pre-paypal and Venmo, etc., you paid off your markers with checks or cash. Considering how much Jordan traveled, it wouldn't surprise me that he paid off his markers with checks.

I think if you ran a background check on everyone I sat down at a table with, or played golf with over the years, it would be far more interesting than the stories I remember about MJ's "friends." Finding someone with a check that Jordan wrote for basically nickels and dimes (in terms of his money) just doesn't raise any alarm bells in the context of what we know. Michael Jordan loved to play cards and would fly into a city just to play a poker game, and he loved to gamble on golf. For guys like that, it doesn't matter who the action is coming from, they just want some action. It doesn't mean they are breaking bread and introducing each other to their families and spending holidays together. From everything I remember, these guys were just acquaintances from the golf courses.

Edit: This seems to be a pretty good article from 1992 about these guys:

 

Euclis20

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KD is three inches taller, has a wingpsan 8 inches longer, and is far more athletically explosive than Bird was. Rodman was only 6'7" (albeit with very long arms). Durant could just shoot over Rodman in a way that Bird never could.
Not really commenting on this, but looking at their stats it's remarkable how similar their shooting percentages are despite Durant having a massive edge in TS%

Bird: .496/.376/.886
Durant: .493/.381/.883

Those lines are nearly identical, but there is a huge gulf in TS%: Bird is .564, Durant is .613. Really illustrates how the game has changed. Also, Durant is one of the 2-3 best high volume scorers of all time (Jordan is at .569, tied with Al Horford and Khris Middleton).
 

Greg29fan

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Going back to the last page on the discussion of the Bulls v. the Warriors, I think stylistically a more intriguing matchup is the KD/Steph/Klay team against the 91-92 Bulls (Wilbon says that's the best Bulls team ever in his opinion in episode 5). You could surround M.J. with two strong three point shooters in Armstrong and Paxson (with Hodges off the bench) and Pippen at the 4 and Grant as a better modern basketball option at the 5.

They'd probably get out-depth'd, but true prime M.J. with those better shooters around him would give them a chance.
 

PedroKsBambino

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It's really hard to compare the Warriors to the 86 Celt
Not really commenting on this, but looking at their stats it's remarkable how similar their shooting percentages are despite Durant having a massive edge in TS%

Bird: .496/.376/.886
Durant: .493/.381/.883

Those lines are nearly identical, but there is a huge gulf in TS%: Bird is .564, Durant is .613. Really illustrates how the game has changed. Also, Durant is one of the 2-3 best high volume scorers of all time (Jordan is at .569, tied with Al Horford and Khris Middleton).
I think one has to assume the rate stats suggest Bird would have taken a lot more threes in today’s game with a lot of success don’t you?

I agree Durant’s length would be a challenge for Rodman. But Bird’s offensive game was equal as a shooter and superior in every other way.
 

moondog80

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Underplayed angle -- without Jordan, the Bulls finished two games out of the one seed, and pushed the Knicks to 7 games in the conference semi-finals. The Knicks went on the lose a super-close NBA finals in 7 games.

There are plenty of parallel universes where the 93-94 Bulls win the NBA title.
 

InstaFace

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Underplayed angle -- without Jordan, the Bulls finished two games out of the one seed, and pushed the Knicks to 7 games in the conference semi-finals. The Knicks went on the lose a super-close NBA finals in 7 games.

There are plenty of parallel universes where the 93-94 Bulls win the NBA title.
I think they touched on that as they covered Jordan's return and the mess the Bulls were in in 94-95. They mentioned the Bulls record when Jordan returned: 34-31. Kerr was quoted as saying that the year before, they'd had Horace Grant, Bill Cartwright, Scott Williams, John Paxson - the core of the 1993 championship team, still in place (and kept Pippen and Armstrong and added Kerr and Kukoc, obviously). But for 94-95, Grant signed with Orlando, Cartwright signed with Seattle, Paxson retired, Williams went to Philly, and basically team-chemistry wise they were a mess.

So obviously Jordan makes a staggering difference... but having a championship core that's played together for years, or a team with lots of new rotation players still figuring out their role and the nuances of each of their teammates, is clearly a huge swing too. That 94-95 team might not have gotten out of the first round if Jordan hadn't returned (they were the 5-seed as it was). Nevermind almost unseat the Shaq-led Magic team that won the East.
 

coremiller

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Not really commenting on this, but looking at their stats it's remarkable how similar their shooting percentages are despite Durant having a massive edge in TS%

Bird: .496/.376/.886
Durant: .493/.381/.883

Those lines are nearly identical, but there is a huge gulf in TS%: Bird is .564, Durant is .613. Really illustrates how the game has changed. Also, Durant is one of the 2-3 best high volume scorers of all time (Jordan is at .569, tied with Al Horford and Khris Middleton).
Of all players with at least 500 games played and who attempted at least 12 FG per game, Curry is 1st in TS% and Durant is 4th. Yes, it was just unfair to have them both on the same team. Jordan is 38th. But even among "high volume" scorers there are big volume differences. Jordan attempted 22.9 FGA/game, the most of anyone in the sample, and one of only 3 players > 20 (Wilt and West are the other two), and it's difficult to sustain efficiency as volume increases.
 

Euclis20

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It's really hard to compare the Warriors to the 86 Celt


I think one has to assume the rate stats suggest Bird would have taken a lot more threes in today’s game with a lot of success don’t you?

I agree Durant’s length would be a challenge for Rodman. But Bird’s offensive game was equal as a shooter and superior in every other way.
No doubt, but you're underselling Durant's offensive efficiency. Bird was a far better rebounder and passer but Durant is one of the very best high volume scorers of all time. There are 62 players in NBA history who averaged 20+ ppg and played 500+ games. Bird is 21st on the list in TS%, behind plenty of guys whose careers overlapped with his (David Thompson, Moses Malone, Jordan, Issel, Gervin, Kareem, Barkley, Dantley). Durant is 3rd, behind just Curry and Dantley. As he ages he'll likely fall a few spots (he's barely ahead of Barkley and Harden), but he's a more efficient high volume scorer than Bird, even after adjusting for era. Bird's superior rebounding and passing will likely keep him ahead of Durant historically (not to mention Durant's career accomplishments will be always be discounted because he joined the Warriors in his prime) but purely as a scorer, Bird is a level below Durant.
 

donutogre

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Swinging back to the series, I'm pretty excited for the episode focusing on the Pacers series in 1998. Good quote from Reggie to end on, and I remember how tight and tense those games all were. Felt like if a few things had gone differently Indiana certainly could have knocked them out.
 

coremiller

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Bird's game in the current league would be very different. He'd shoot a ton more 3s but his post game would mostly disappear. He'd play off the ball a lot more and run around screens for 3s. His physical and athletic disadvantages (he was not long for his height, he was not especially quick or a great jumper) would be a much bigger hindrance in today's league, and he'd get exposed on defense on switches against getting more athletic scorers (he'd have no chance of guarding guys like LeBron or Curry or Harden or Durant on switches). But his shooting would even more valuable than it was then, and his passing would be even more valuable, since he would find shooters for open 3s. He'd probably play more as a 4 or even a stretch 5 than as a 3.
 

Kliq

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No doubt, but you're underselling Durant's offensive efficiency. Bird was a far better rebounder and passer but Durant is one of the very best high volume scorers of all time. There are 62 players in NBA history who averaged 20+ ppg and played 500+ games. Bird is 21st on the list in TS%, behind plenty of guys whose careers overlapped with his (David Thompson, Moses Malone, Jordan, Issel, Gervin, Kareem, Barkley, Dantley). Durant is 3rd, behind just Curry and Dantley. As he ages he'll likely fall a few spots (he's barely ahead of Barkley and Harden), but he's a more efficient high volume scorer than Bird, even after adjusting for era. Bird's superior rebounding and passing will likely keep him ahead of Durant historically (not to mention Durant's career accomplishments will be always be discounted because he joined the Warriors in his prime) but purely as a scorer, Bird is a level below Durant.
Most of those guys creep ahead on TS% because they went to the line more frequently than Bird. Playing with McHale/Parish throughout his career was always going to limit the frequency of Bird's drives and his post-touches, which were going to limit his FTA per game.
 

BaseballJones

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Bird's game in the current league would be very different. He'd shoot a ton more 3s but his post game would mostly disappear. He'd play off the ball a lot more and run around screens for 3s. His physical and athletic disadvantages (he was not long for his height, he was not especially quick or a great jumper) would be a much bigger hindrance in today's league, and he'd get exposed on defense on switches against getting more athletic scorers (he'd have no chance of guarding guys like LeBron or Curry or Harden or Durant on switches). But his shooting would even more valuable than it was then, and his passing would be even more valuable, since he would find shooters for open 3s. He'd probably play more as a 4 or even a stretch 5 than as a 3.
Bird at 6'10" would be an ideal stretch 5. Physically and athletically he probably could hang with most current bigs (not with Embiid but most others). and he'd destroy them on the offensive end. Yes he'd struggle against Curry/Draymond in a P&R situation. But then again, who doesn't?
 

reggiecleveland

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KD is three inches taller, has a wingpsan 8 inches longer, and is far more athletically explosive than Bird was. Rodman was only 6'7" (albeit with very long arms). Durant could just shoot over Rodman in a way that Bird never could.
These matchups are all about the refs. Rodman was not an elite perimiter defender after the handcheck clampdown. Playng in the 80s and 90s Durant would get pushed around and exploited at both ends. During the lockdown I have watched tons of classic hoops and every game I laugh at something that would be an ejection today and the guy just walks to the line and shoots his FTs. Also you see refs even explaining to team and coached they will not reward them shooting from the outside. On the other hand Rodman would foul out in 5 minutes today. So much of the criticism of younger fans about Bird are the same thongs people said abou him at the time, not athletic enough to get his shot off, slow white guy etc.
 

PedroKsBambino

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No doubt, but you're underselling Durant's offensive efficiency. Bird was a far better rebounder and passer but Durant is one of the very best high volume scorers of all time. There are 62 players in NBA history who averaged 20+ ppg and played 500+ games. Bird is 21st on the list in TS%, behind plenty of guys whose careers overlapped with his (David Thompson, Moses Malone, Jordan, Issel, Gervin, Kareem, Barkley, Dantley). Durant is 3rd, behind just Curry and Dantley. As he ages he'll likely fall a few spots (he's barely ahead of Barkley and Harden), but he's a more efficient high volume scorer than Bird, even after adjusting for era. Bird's superior rebounding and passing will likely keep him ahead of Durant historically (not to mention Durant's career accomplishments will be always be discounted because he joined the Warriors in his prime) but purely as a scorer, Bird is a level below Durant.
I'm a huge Durant fan, and agree he is historically efficient, but I think you are underselling Bird. As noted before much of the difference in TS% is due to the number of threes taken (some is also due to FT/game). Bird, unlike all but a couple specialists from his era, would be better offensively today than he was then---I think most guys there is more uncertainty how well they'd shoot threes but he was the best of his era in a way similar to, or even more distinctive than, Curry is today. I hear the question about his post game---I am not sure which way that cuts, as a stretch 4 today he'd have a size advantage he did not in his era and it wasn't a huge part of his game anyway since he played with two great post players (as an aside, I agree defensively he'd be sloooooow today). From a TS perspective he is effectively penalized for being a spectacular 3pt shooter in an era that there weren't many threes. That's why a bunch of high FG% guys are near him in TS---the whole point of projecting his skills to today is to differentiate him from those guys as we see guys with elite 3pt% skills separate today.

In terms of who is the better scorer we will never really know; certainly clear that Durant was asked to focus more on scoring and did it exceptionally well. However, their context was also pretty different---Bird was his team's primary creator his whole career (and thus I would hope pretty indisputably a better overall offensive player given that passing skill); Durant has always played with a very good creator as the off-ball guy. I have no idea what Bird would score if he decided that was what he wanted to do in the way Durant focuses there (not suggesting Durant is selfish---he is not, that is just the way he is used to a fair degree). But I don't have a bad word to say about Durant's scoring and shooting skills, it is a high bar for even Bird to clear.
 
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jcd0805

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It’s awesome Jordan gets to make a ten part documentary just shitting on rivals from 30+ years ago - Payton, Isaiah.
Sure is! lol I love getting to see Michael talk about all that went on in his career. He was an ass to a lot of people he doesn't deny it, he just lets you know why he wanted to be an ass to each one. He is who he is and I for one am completely fascinated by him and so thankful I got to see true basketball greatness in person once.
 

kelpapa

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So, haven't shared this much over the years, but my brother is really good friends with MJ (my nieces and nephews call him Uncle Mike). They met down at the Atlantis in the Bahamas when Jordan would hold his annual charity golf tournament every year and my brother would go down with his wife and her family during the same time (it was usually over New Years). Coincidentally, they met playing baccarat and have gambled together dozens of times since. Jordan loves the action, but given what he's worth and the amounts he plays, I doubt for a second that he was ever in financial trouble due to gambling. Every time Jordan is in town, or my brother is in a city where he is, they get together.

Interestingly enough, Jordan introduced my brother to Tito at his charity tournament, so now every year, my brother plays with Tito and Kevin Nealon (and whoever the fourth is that Jordan lines up with them). The tournament is now held in Vegas every year, and my brother goes out every year with the wife and kids. He's also become really close to Tito as a result, and texts him pretty regulary, along with former NFL WR, Andre Johnson (I know, odd pairing).

Anyway, don't have much more to add other than I truly believe as does my brother that Jordan just wanted a break, and really wanted to try something different after his father's death. David Stern would have been insane to suspend him. Jordan was never alleged to have gambled on basketball games, so why would Stern even get involved? Because he was gambling on a golf course? At a casino? If you're going to suspend NBA players for that, well....I don't buy it at all. Of course, I was in college when all of this was going down, and I haven't looked at the stories surrounding it in depth since then, when I was mostly drunk, but am I missing something?
Can you invite MJ to our weekly Sosh game?
 

slamminsammya

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Of all players with at least 500 games played and who attempted at least 12 FG per game, Curry is 1st in TS% and Durant is 4th. Yes, it was just unfair to have them both on the same team. Jordan is 38th. But even among "high volume" scorers there are big volume differences. Jordan attempted 22.9 FGA/game, the most of anyone in the sample, and one of only 3 players > 20 (Wilt and West are the other two), and it's difficult to sustain efficiency as volume increases.
It must also be mentioned he was doing that largely during the most defensive era of NBA basketball throughout its history in the 90s.
 

slamminsammya

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I'm a huge Durant fan, and agree he is historically efficient, but I think you are underselling Bird. As noted before much of the difference in TS% is due to the number of threes taken (some is also due to FT/game). Bird, unlike all but a couple specialists from his era, would be better offensively today than he was then---I think most guys there is more uncertainty how well they'd shoot threes but he was the best of his era in a way similar to, or even more distinctive than, Curry is today. I hear the question about his post game---I am not sure which way that cuts, as a stretch 4 today he'd have a size advantage he did not in his era and it wasn't a huge part of his game anyway since he played with two great post players (as an aside, I agree defensively he'd be sloooooow today). From a TS perspective he is effectively penalized for being a spectacular 3pt shooter in an era that there weren't many threes. That's why a bunch of high FG% guys are near him in TS---the whole point of projecting his skills to today is to differentiate him from those guys as we see guys with elite 3pt% skills separate today.

In terms of who is the better scorer we will never really know; certainly clear that Durant was asked to focus more on scoring and did it exceptionally well. However, their context was also pretty different---Bird was his team's primary creator his whole career (and thus I would hope pretty indisputably a better overall offensive player given that passing skill); Durant has always played with a very good creator as the off-ball guy. I have no idea what Bird would score if he decided that was what he wanted to do in the way Durant focuses there (not suggesting Durant is selfish---he is not, that is just the way he is used to a fair degree). But I don't have a bad word to say about Durant's scoring and shooting skills, it is a high bar for even Bird to clear.
The point about shot selection varying across eras is a good one, but at the same time its not like you can just up Bird's attempts from three and assume hes hitting them at the same rate. Off the dribble threes were not really a thing back then, and its not at all clear he would have that shot like KD does.
 

reggiecleveland

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I m sorry but I almost laugh when young people say about a skill, "Would Michael Jordan or Larry Bird have been able to acquire this skill?" Those two guys would stop at nothing to develop what they needed. I know Kobe, like Tito was giving the smoke blowing soundbite, but he had a point that MJ created a model of work, etc for him to follow.

As for Micahel and the 3pt shot? This guy was known as a shooter first. He was a much better shooter than Lebron. I remember when I was on the AAU circuit and young Lebron was coming up. He was not a good shooter. He was not even a good FT shooter as kid, and now he is certainly a capable 3pt shooter. He put in the work, and Michael certainly would have, had the rules/reffing changed.

TO me Durant would have been the best player ever in the 70s, when it was less physical and teams outscored each other.
 
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BigSoxFan

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I m sorry but I almost laugh ehrn yung people say about a skill, "Would Michael Jordan or Larry Bird have been able to acquire this skill?" Those two guys would stop at nothing to develop what they needed. I know Kobe, like Tito was giving the smoke blowing soundbite, but he had a point that MJ created a model of work, etc for him to follow.

As for Micahel and the 3pt shot? This guy was known as a shooter first. He was a much better shooter than Lebron. I remember when I was on the AAU circuit and young Lebron was coming up. He was not a good shooter. He was not even a good FT shooter as kid, and now he is certainly a capable high school player. He put in the work, and Michael certainly would have, had the rules/reffing changed.
Yup. MJ’s shooting form was basically flawless. He would have figured it out.
 

BaseballJones

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I m sorry but I almost laugh when young people say about a skill, "Would Michael Jordan or Larry Bird have been able to acquire this skill?" Those two guys would stop at nothing to develop what they needed. I know Kobe, like Tito was giving the smoke blowing soundbite, but he had a point that MJ created a model of work, etc for him to follow.

As for Micahel and the 3pt shot? This guy was known as a shooter first. He was a much better shooter than Lebron. I remember when I was on the AAU circuit and young Lebron was coming up. He was not a good shooter. He was not even a good FT shooter as kid, and now he is certainly a capable 3pt shooter. He put in the work, and Michael certainly would have, had the rules/reffing changed.

TO me Durant would have been the best player ever in the 70s, when it was less physical and teams outscored each other.
Think George Gervin but taller and with a MUCH better jumper.

Since Gervin is an all-time great, yeah, imagine Durant in that world.
 

snowmanny

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Underplayed angle -- without Jordan, the Bulls finished two games out of the one seed, and pushed the Knicks to 7 games in the conference semi-finals. The Knicks went on the lose a super-close NBA finals in 7 games.

There are plenty of parallel universes where the 93-94 Bulls win the NBA title.
I always think of this Bulls season when people try to diminish Brady by saying the Pats went 11-5 in 2008.
 

Deathofthebambino

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I'm not sure even the high stakes area at the Bellagio has $2M buy-ins. That's Le Chiffre / Monte Carlo territory.
He doesn't play poker on a casino floor, as far as I know. He plays mostly baccarat. Poker is for private games in private homes and country clubs (or upstairs in a suite, see below).

The high stakes area and maximum bet amounts (except poker usually) can and will change in casinos, depending on your host and how much money you wire to them. For poker, you need your host to set up a private suite upstairs away from the floor for the true high end cash games and you need to bring the players, or they need to have other players for the table.
 

PedroKsBambino

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The point about shot selection varying across eras is a good one, but at the same time its not like you can just up Bird's attempts from three and assume hes hitting them at the same rate. Off the dribble threes were not really a thing back then, and its not at all clear he would have that shot like KD does.
Gonna guess you didn't actually see prime Larry Bird shoot.
 

slamminsammya

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Gonna guess you didn't actually see prime Larry Bird shoot.
I am not saying he couldn't shoot them, just that even for the best players your percentage off the bounce is generally lower than catch and shoot situations, so it doesn't make sense to say he was a 40% 3p shooter in the 80s so he would just carry that percentage over to higher volume, assuming that higher volume is coming from more attempts including creating his own shot.
 

PedroKsBambino

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I am not saying he couldn't shoot them, just that even for the best players your percentage off the bounce is generally lower than catch and shoot situations, so it doesn't make sense to say he was a 40% 3p shooter in the 80s so he would just carry that percentage over to higher volume, assuming that higher volume is coming from more attempts including creating his own shot.
I'm saying he took a bunch of those in the 1980s. Remember, he was the primary ballhandler---he didn't get anywhere near as many open looks as most guys at 40% of threes do. A lot of what he took were one-on-one shots.
 

snowmanny

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I'd like to see the 1980 training camp Celtics coached by 2017 Steve Kerr against the 2017 Warriors coached by 1980 reigning Coach of the Year Bill Fitch. (First of all, two Hall of Famers won't quit in the middle of camp.)
 

reggiecleveland

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Think George Gervin but taller and with a MUCH better jumper.

Since Gervin is an all-time great, yeah, imagine Durant in that world.
I thought Iceman as well. Ice was legit 2 guard handle though.

I think I mentioned this about guys playing against NBA players. But in 92 (Gervin was 39, retired 6 years) I was in a 3 on 3 circuit, feeling pretty good, some pro ball inder belt, 27 year sold, etc. My team was spanked by a team with current NBA coach Jay Trianno with a chance to play against some former nba guys. Triano's team was blasted by some guys, all former D1 guys, some pro from Europe etc. They get to play Ice and some others. Ice dominated like they were children. He was known as a bad NBA defender, he was swatting shots by the 6'11 monster, stoning guys that tried to go by him, dunking on guys. Basically he dicked around with the ball took one quick move and was to the rim or shooting an unblockable floater. He did not miss a single shot. He could not have seemed less interested. With the space today I can't imagine how good that guy would be. Talk about areality check. Never ever again did I have the barroom discussiona about how I could hang in the NBA for a game, a shift, a minute. Years later I told that story to Jim and John Paxson and they said Ice did that to good NBA players, and not to feel bad.
 

BigSoxFan

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I thought Iceman as well. Ice was legit 2 guard handle though.

I think I mentioned this about guys playing against NBA players. But in 92 (Gervin was 39, retired 6 years) I was in a 3 on 3 circuit, feeling pretty good, some pro ball inder belt, 27 year sold, etc. My team was spanked by a team with current NBA coach Jay Trianno with a chance to play against some former nba guys. Triano's team was blasted by some guys, all former D1 guys, some pro from Europe etc. They get to play Ice and some others. Ice dominated like they were children. He was known as a bad NBA defender, he was swatting shots by the 6'11 monster, stoning guys that tried to go by him, dunking on guys. Basically he dicked around with the ball took one quick move and was to the rim or shooting an unblockable floater. He did not miss a single shot. He could not have seemed less interested. With the space today I can't imagine how good that guy would be. Talk about areality check. Never ever again did I have the barroom discussiona about how I could hang in the NBA for a game, a shift, a minute. Years later I told that story to Jim and John Paxson and they said Ice did that to good NBA players, and not to feel bad.
Funny you mention that. I attended a charity basketball tournament in SA in the mid 90s so it would have been a few years later than your event and Gervin played. He was going up against local Texas college players so these weren’t joe schmoes out there. And he was absolutely destroying them with like 20% effort. It was almost Globetrotter-esque. Such a gifted player. Also known as one of the nicest athletes, which several of my friends have confirmed after meeting him in different settings. Just a real good dude. SA really has had such an amazing run of down-to-earth HOFers. Too bad Kawhi had to ruin it.
 

InstaFace

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I thought Iceman as well. Ice was legit 2 guard handle though.

I think I mentioned this about guys playing against NBA players. But in 92 (Gervin was 39, retired 6 years) I was in a 3 on 3 circuit, feeling pretty good, some pro ball inder belt, 27 year sold, etc. My team was spanked by a team with current NBA coach Jay Trianno with a chance to play against some former nba guys. Triano's team was blasted by some guys, all former D1 guys, some pro from Europe etc. They get to play Ice and some others. Ice dominated like they were children. He was known as a bad NBA defender, he was swatting shots by the 6'11 monster, stoning guys that tried to go by him, dunking on guys. Basically he dicked around with the ball took one quick move and was to the rim or shooting an unblockable floater. He did not miss a single shot. He could not have seemed less interested. With the space today I can't imagine how good that guy would be. Talk about areality check. Never ever again did I have the barroom discussiona about how I could hang in the NBA for a game, a shift, a minute. Years later I told that story to Jim and John Paxson and they said Ice did that to good NBA players, and not to feel bad.
Great story. You'd probably enjoy this similar one:

 

Kliq

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I thought Iceman as well. Ice was legit 2 guard handle though.

I think I mentioned this about guys playing against NBA players. But in 92 (Gervin was 39, retired 6 years) I was in a 3 on 3 circuit, feeling pretty good, some pro ball inder belt, 27 year sold, etc. My team was spanked by a team with current NBA coach Jay Trianno with a chance to play against some former nba guys. Triano's team was blasted by some guys, all former D1 guys, some pro from Europe etc. They get to play Ice and some others. Ice dominated like they were children. He was known as a bad NBA defender, he was swatting shots by the 6'11 monster, stoning guys that tried to go by him, dunking on guys. Basically he dicked around with the ball took one quick move and was to the rim or shooting an unblockable floater. He did not miss a single shot. He could not have seemed less interested. With the space today I can't imagine how good that guy would be. Talk about areality check. Never ever again did I have the barroom discussiona about how I could hang in the NBA for a game, a shift, a minute. Years later I told that story to Jim and John Paxson and they said Ice did that to good NBA players, and not to feel bad.
Gervin had a reputation for being the best pick-up player in the history of basketball. Among NBA players, his talent is legendary. Simmons once told a story about asking Magic Johnson who the best pick-up player was that he played with, and without hesitation Magic said "Ice." Simmons asked him for some other names and Magic said "There isn't really anyone else, just Ice." Now, John grew up idolizing Gervin in Michigan, but its funny to see some of the same stories about a "washed" Ice dominating competition.

Gervin wasn't always a great team player, wasn't interested in playing defense and flamed out rather early, but very few people to ever walk this earth have ever been more adapt at getting buckets. Gervin could go off at any time, scoring 30 points in a half (or a quarter) multiple times a season. To his credit, his teams were generally pretty good, making the conference finals three out of five years during his prime. He had a lot more success than other scoring machines, like Allen Iverson, Pete Maravich, Dominque, Adrian Dantley, T-Mac, etc.
 

BaseballJones

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To the "these guys are great" stories...this isn't even about a pro. My freshman year of college at Syracuse, SU coming off their heartbreaking championship loss to Indiana the year before. It's before the season and we're playing pickup in the gym. I'm a good player - was then and still am. "Good"...haha. Well on comes Derrick Coleman and Stephen Thompson. Some of you guys know the name Stephen Thompson. Elite athlete, about 6'2" tall from California. Coleman obviously ended up being a GREAT college player and an all-star in the NBA. Anyway, one trip down the floor I have a wide open three from the corner. Coleman is in the paint. I have a quick release. Or so I thought. Got the ball, squared and shot, and Coleman takes like one gigantic step, and absolutely erases the shot. I'm like no way a human can cover basically 20 feet in the blink of an eye and block that. But...he did. Effortlessly.

Another trip down the court, I'm guarding Thompson. He gives me the littlest of shimmies and then takes one step and launches himself from just inside the foul line and throws it down. Only time in my life I've ever been dunked on. He did it without breaking a sweat.

And Thompson was "just" a college guy - never made it to the NBA. Ridiculous.

I'll add to that this...I've had the chance to play for years against the UConn women in pick up, and they're damned damned good. But to show you the difference between the men and the women.... I just told you the Thompson story. Well, before the 2001-2002 season (a year in which the UConn women went 39-0 winning the national championship), I'm playing pickup in the rec center. At this point I was 32 years old. In comes Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi, Swin Cash, Tamika Williams, and Asjha Jones. In case those names are unfamiliar to you all, all five played in the WNBA. Four of them were Olympians. Cash is one of the better players in women's basketball history. Bird and Taurasi are among the elite of the elite all time. In fact, Bird, Cash, Jones, and Taurasi are four of only 11 women in history to win an NCAA title, a WNBA title, and an Olympic gold medal.

Anyway, they challenged me and four other guys to play. And we wiped the floor with them seven straight games. And yes they were *playing*. We all took it kind of personally.

So it's just a completely different animal whenever anyone compares women's hoops to men's. I still get to play, and the one woman's player that was an absolute monster, nearly impossible for me to guard, was Breanna Stewart. 6'4", 7'1" wingspan, uses both hands, can post or hit the three. I had a difficult time against her. Of course, by then I was in my mid-40s. And of course, she may go down as the best women's player of all time when all is said and done. So I don't really feel too bad. But sometimes around here people think that the best women's players can hang with the men and I just laugh. I don't mean to be insulting. It's just not something that's remotely in the realm of possibility.
 

reggiecleveland

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Gervin had a reputation for being the best pick-up player in the history of basketball. Among NBA players, his talent is legendary. Simmons once told a story about asking Magic Johnson who the best pick-up player was that he played with, and without hesitation Magic said "Ice." Simmons asked him for some other names and Magic said "There isn't really anyone else, just Ice." Now, John grew up idolizing Gervin in Michigan, but its funny to see some of the same stories about a "washed" Ice dominating competition.
I spoke to Paxons while playing 3 on 3. If you advanced from the first day, your team got "coached" by one of the Paxons. John was our "coach" and took it seriously, suggesting which matchups to take advantage of, drawing up a SLOB after a timeout. Jim was asked by the guys we were playing who he was, which didn't sit well with a two time all star, and wandered to our bench. He asked what we got if we won, and we told the story about Ice, and said the prize was similar but the NBA guys were not announced. Jim laughed and said they always put on Ice in those pickup games if the competition looked tough since "they didn't want to lose."
 

InstaFace

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A good article, but not a great one. One of the comments (I know, I know) reads as follows:

Dave Zirin, the cold shower of sports journalism. Thanks for telling us that Michael Jordan is not as good a life role model as Bill Russell. But MJ could not help being who he was anymore than BR could help being who he was. Russell may have gathered more rings, but Michael was undoubtedly a superior basketball player. The fact that "The Last Dance" reveals Jordan's mean and vindictive side takes the documentary out of the realm of hagiography. We see the best and the worst of the GOAT, we see him as a flawed human being, just like the rest of us. That seems like a fair representation to me.
I think a lot of us have felt like both this commenter and like Zirin does in the article, at times while watching the doc. On the one hand, there are hagiographic moments and some things that are somewhat glossed over. On the other, it doesn't shy away from the gambling stuff, the conspiracy theories, or the bully stories that frankly paint him in a bad light. I feel like I've got enough judgment to know which is which, but there are certainly a few things I wish were more deeply explored. One thing we can say for certain: you come out of watching this documentary feeling like you understand Jordan the person, not that he's a hero.
 

InstaFace

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The filmmaker, Jason Hehir, has been doing weekly interviews with Jalen & Jacoby, and has some great story-behind-the-story stuff.

He also sounds like Murph and Sully from Dorchester, despite being a 20-year veteran director of the documentary business. It's good stuff, you can click through to Youtube to see related videos if you like any of these.

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6cLdgGt5nc


View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j7ZFUjaYqDY

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OVHAo3Y2B5s