Michael Jordan’s honesty in ‘The Last Dance’ called into question by author Sam Smith

His Airness might actually be His Unfairness.

ESPN’s “The Last Dance” wrapped up on Sunday, and the 10-part series did a great job at painting Michael Jordan in a mythological light — but apparently a less-than-good job at telling the truth, according to “The Jordan Rules” author and “The Last Dance” commentator Sam Smith.

Smith, who was given airtime at various points during the series, called Jordan’s claim that the Bulls would have reunited for one more season following their 1997-98 championship run “a complete and blatant lie.”

“There were several things in the documentary that I saw, I would know, that (Jordan) made up or he lied about,” Smith said in an interview with Bonta, Steiny and Guru of 95.7 The Game. “They weren’t major things, but it was like when a TV movie comes on and they say, ‘This is based on a true story.’ That’s what that was. It was based on a true story.”

Smith said the idea that players might reunite for one more season was hogwash, in so many words, and that the producers “had the outlines” of the events but the details were a bit murky. 

He also said the infamous Pizza Game/Flu Game/Food Poisoning Game story — in which Jordan and his trainer alluded to a late-night snack potentially being poisoned — was “complete nonsense,” adding that Jordan was certainly sick but it wasn’t from the pizza (or a hangover).

The series wasn’t without its flaws, and as Smith notes in the interview, the docuseries was a “Michael Jordan hagiography” more than it was a revelatory or investigative documentary surrounding the Jordan-era Bulls. Since its conclusion, Smith, Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant and Pizza Hut employees have all either called into question Jordan’s veracity or the portrayals of one another during the doc.

While the legend of Jordan certainly grew throughout “The Last Dance,” maybe we are now further from the truth than we wanted to be.

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Michael Thomas clashes with DeVante Parker in heated Instagram exchange: ‘Quit crying’

Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas picked a fight with Dolphins pass catcher DeVante Parker on social media Monday afternoon that led to a heated exchange between NFL players.

Thomas entered the fray after Parker responded to an “NFL on Fox” Instagram graphic asking whether it would be tougher to make a catch when guarded by Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore or break up a pass when covering Thomas. Parker picked the first, clearly proud of his eight-catch, 137-yard showing against Gilmore in December. He didn’t mention Thomas in his response.

Thomas, though, came in hot, writing, “Go run some numbers up. Then you can talk I lapped you and you been in the league longer than me first rounder.”

Parker countered by bringing up how often Thomas gets targeted by Drew Brees. Thomas said Parker should blame his parents for inferior genes rather than his QB. Parker said “quit crying bra.”

The public bickering continued in that manner in the Instagram comment section next to the “NFL on Fox” post.

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(Screenshots by @Brendan_Tobin)

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From postseason trolling while at home to going all-out on Twitter against Josh Norman, Thomas has never backed down from an online feud.

Thomas, to his credit, has had far more NFL success than Parker or pretty much any other active receiver. He has more than 100 receptions in each of the past three seasons, including 149 in 2019.

But it seems likely that Parker did not intend to start anything with his initial comment, only engaging once Thomas went on the offensive.

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Had Michael Jordan and ‘The Last Dance’ Bulls been granted an encore, there’s no guarantee it would’ve been a smash

If there had been the occasion to do another chapter of “The Last Dance” — well, there would have been no reason to do the entire series. The essential conflict at the center of the drama of the Chicago Bulls’ final championship season of their 1990s NBA dynasty was the awareness that it would be the final season.

Let’s assume Michael Jordan had gotten his way, though. Let’s say Phil Jackson had agreed to coach the team for another season. Let’s say Jordan had agreed to sign a one-year deal with the Bulls and that management had found a way, like magic, to appease chronically underpaid Scottie Pippen as he approached the free agency he awaited so long.

Could the Bulls have won it again?

GREER: Three big flaws in “The Last Dance”

Or is it possible general manager that Jerry Krause and owner Jerry Reinsdorf did that triumvirate a favor by allowing it to exit Chicago as a group holding, with help from Toni Kukoc, Dennis Rodman and Ron Harper, six editions of the Larry O’Brien Trophy in front of 300,000 fans on a cloudy June day at Grant Park?

I mean, think of how few “Rocky” sequels it took for Apollo Creed to go from world heavyweight champion completing another defense of his title to dying in the ring.

In his 2017 interview with basketball journalist Adrian Wojnarowski, Krause explained his reasoning behind the decision not to continue with Phil Jackson as coach and to allow the six-time champion Bulls to scatter as the franchise pursued a complete rebuild. Krause insisted the frontcourt of Luc Longley and Dennis Rodman, who combined to average 65 minutes at the center and power forward positions, no longer could physically perform at the championship level, and the team’s salary-cap situation would not accommodate the location of sufficient replacements.

Jordan believers insist he could have elevated whomever was installed at those positions to a championship level.

If there were to be another episode of “The Last Dance,” it might have had to run only a half-hour. The 1998-99 NBA season would have been the best possible venue for the aging Bulls because of the lockout that limited the regular season to 50 games. For Jordan and Pippen, at 35 and 33, respectively, it would have been the ultimate in load management.

The season produced a deserving champion but no truly elite team. Only the Spurs and Jazz managed records that would have, in a standard season, equated to 60 wins.

The Spurs, though, became a dominant team in the 1999 NBA playoffs. They went 15-2 in the postseason, matching the best run by the Bulls from their six title teams. They dropped one game in the opening series and one in the Finals but swept the Lakers (with Shaquille O’Neal and a young Kobe Bryant) and Trail Blazers (with Rasheed Wallace and Damon Stoudamire).

To challenge them, the Bulls would have had to either re-sign Rodman and Longley against their own better judgment or find someone available who could have approximated their contributions. Derrick Coleman was a free agent that year, but the Bulls couldn’t have swallowed the five-year, $40 million deal he signed. Matt Geiger signed for about $7 million per year with the Sixers. They probably could have afforded Sam Perkins, who signed with the Pacers for a $2 million average; he averaged 5 points and 2.9 rebounds.

BENDER: The greatest Michael Jordan game you definitely don’t remember

After the Bulls released him, Rodman largely was unwanted in the league and signed with the Lakers in late February 1999, nearly a month after the shortened season began. He lasted less than two months and was released, with Bryant acknowledging Rodman had been showing up “continuously late” for team obligations.

The Bulls traded Longley for a package that included a first-round draft pick, which they used to select Ron Artest. In Phoenix, Longley’s playing time declined from nearly 30 minutes per game on a championship team to 24 minutes on the Western Conference’s sixth seed and only 17 minutes once the Suns reached the playoffs.

Steve Kerr, who’d averaged 7.5 points and shot .438 from 3-point range in 22 minutes for the Bulls, won another championship in his first season after being traded to San Antonio. But he was able to contribute only 4.4. points and .313 long-distance shooting in 17 minutes per game. He barely appeared in the playoffs, getting only 97 of a possible 816 minutes.

“If you asked all the guys who won in ’98 — ‘We’ll give you a one-year contract to try for a seventh?” — you think they would have signed? Yes, they would have signed,” Jordan said in “The Last Dance.” He acknowledged it would have been different for Pippen given how important it was for him to cash in on his free agency, but Jordan insisted it still could have happened.

“If Phil was going to be there, if Dennis was going to be there, if MJ was going to be there to win our seventh?” Jordan said. “Pip is not going to miss out on that.”

There is no great clarity, though, even with two decades’ worth of hindsight, as to what “that” would have involved. It might have ended with another NBA championship, the most improbable of all. It likely would have ended somewhere short of the summit. We’d have gotten to enjoy MJ for another All-NBA season, but there would have been no cause to put together a documentary as compelling as “The Last Dance.”

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Michael Jordan on allegations he pushed off for Game 6 winner vs. Jazz: ‘Bulls—’

Michael Jordan’s parting shot with the Bulls — a Game 6 winner in the 1998 NBA Finals — has long prompted complaints from Jazz fans that he pushed off on Bryon Russell to find enough space to pull up.

Jordan took the final episode of “The Last Dance” on Sunday as a chance to insist there was no offensive foul on the play.

“Everybody said I pushed off,” Jordan told the documentary crew. “Bulls—. His energy was going that way. I didn’t have to push him.”

It’s predictable that Jordan would want to defend one of his most memorable moments in strong terms. After all, he spent the entire documentary series beating back much smaller inferences he ever did wrong on the court. It’s also possible that he’s correct and the push never occurred, though fans in Utah would disagree with that assessment.

After Jordan said his piece on the moment, broadcaster Bob Costas appeared to agree that no push happened.

It would have been great to hear the perspective of a Jazz player regarding the play. History, though, is written by the victors.

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Charles Barkley says Michael Jordan only bullied teammates who wouldn’t ‘whoop the hell out of you’

Charles Barkley recently said he feels “sadness” about his deteriorated friendship with Michael Jordan. Well, these comments certainly aren’t going to help mend fences.

During an appearance on Monday’s edition of “The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz,” Barkley called out Jordan for “selective prosecution” with his teammates. Episode 7 of ESPN’s documentary series “The Last Dance” explored Jordan’s leadership methods, which included harsh criticism of his teammates. Jordan also occasionally got into physical altercations during practices, most notably punching Steve Kerr in the eye.

“Well, you know he has selective prosecution over there, right? He knows who to pick on,” Barkley said. “There’s certain guys you can’t treat like that. You have to know what guys you can treat badly, and they’re gonna accept it. Screaming at guys all the time, punching guys — come on, man.

“There’s certain guys that would whoop the hell out of you if you tried doing that. He has selective prosecution. I mean, Scott Burrell and Steve Kerr. Come on, man.”

When asked at the end of Episode 7 about not being viewed as a “nice guy,” Jordan delivered an emotional monologue explaining why he pushed his teammates so hard.

“Winning has a price. And leadership has a price. So I pulled people along when they didn’t want to be pulled. I challenged people when they don’t want to be challenged. And I earned that right because my teammates came after me. They didn’t endure all the things that I endured. Once you join the team, you live at a certain standard that I play the game, and I wasn’t gonna take anything less. Now, if that means I have to go out there and get in your ass a little bit, then I did that. You ask all my teammates, the one thing about Michael Jordan was, he never asked me to do something that he didn’t f—ing do. When people see this, they’re gonna say, ‘Well, he wasn’t really a nice guy. He may have been a tyrant.’ Well, that’s you, because you never won anything. I wanted to win, but I wanted them to win and be a part of that as well. I don’t have to do this. I’m only doing it because it is who I am. That’s how I played the game. That was my mentality. If you don’t want to play that, don’t play that way. Break.”

As for the rift between the two Hall of Famers, Barkley doesn’t appear to be interested in ending the feud anytime soon.

“That’s never gonna happen, Dan. You can let that go,” Barkley said. “That’s never gonna happen. … Michael’s doing great. Chuck’s doing great. But that’s never gonna happen, brother. I’m too stubborn for that.”

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Michael Jordan 'ran away' after Mike Tyson threatened to beat him up

Mike Tyson allegedly threatened to beat up Michael Jordan after a row during a birthday dinner.

The former undisputed heavyweight champion and the Chicago Bulls icon were both attending a birthday party in Chicago for the former NFL star Richard Dent.

Legendary boxing promoter Don King and the then Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka were also in attendance.

However, Tyson is said to have become aggressive towards Jordan after he raised the fact that the NBA star had previously dated his ex-wife, Robin Givens, who he had divorced in 1989.

Rory Holloway, who was Tyson’s co-manager until 1998, wrote in his memoir, ‘Taming the Beast: The Untold Story of Team Tyson’: ‘Mike Tyson’s sitting there with his drink of choice, a Long Island Tea, and when he drinks his real feelings come out.

‘I’m telling the server to water his drinks down ‘cause I see where this is going. Mike stares across the table at Michael Jordan. He says, ‘Hey man, you think I’m stupid? I know you f****d with my b***h’.

‘Jordan looks like he just seen a ghost. ‘I know you messed with her,’ Mike says. ‘You can tell me.’

‘Jordan, it’s obvious he just wants to get up and run. He wants no part of this.

‘Mike turns to Ditka. ‘Man, you think somebody scared of you, all that racist s**t you been talking?’ He says to Dent, ‘Y’all scared of this damn white man, Richard? He ain’t nobody. You gonna let him talk that way?’

‘It was a circus, for real, that night. Don King trying to change the subject. Me and John trying to hold Mike down.

‘Mike telling everyone he’s going to bust Jordan’s ass. Jordan’s dressed sharp as always and he can’t get out of there fast enough.’

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Michael Jordan showed me what it meant to be a star, says BJ Armstrong

There is ‘no preparation’ for handling the level of fame experienced by Michael Jordan in the 1990s, said former Chicago Bulls team-mate BJ Armstrong.

There were obvious perks to being team-mates with Michael Jordan. Plenty of his Chicago team-mates own multiple championship rings, they appear in some of the most-replayed NBA highlight clips of all time and they have got a lifetime of stories to tell about one of the best to ever take the court.

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Michael Jordan memories: Klay Thompson and Vince Carter share their stories

With The Last Dance documentary in full swing, Klay Thompson, Vince Carter, Kemba Walker, Zach LaVine and Kendrick Nunn share their favourite Michael Jordan memories.

Jordan's Last Dance on Sky Q from April 20

Watch The Last Dance, a 10-part documentary on the 1997-98 Bulls, on Netflix via your Sky Q box

As today’s current stars attest, the influence of Michael Jordan and the legacy on the 1990s Chicago Bulls dynasty can still be felt around the modern-day NBA.

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What Michael Schumacher once told Bernie Ecclestone reveals confidence of Ferrari F1 hero

Michael Schumacher thought he was the main man at Ferrari and made sure former F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone knew it. Schumacher is widely regarded as the greatest F1 driver of all time thanks to the record seven World Drivers’ Championships and 91 race wins he racked up during his career.

The bulk of the German’s success came during his time at Ferrari, with five of his titles won on the bounce between 2000 and 2004.

Schumacher was the front man of one of the greatest operations in the history of motorsport, with Jean Todt and Ross Brawn among the brains behind the championship-winning cars and strategies at his disposal.

Current Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto is hoping to replicate the achievements of Schumacher, Todt and co.

Ecclestone has now revealed what an ultra-confident Schumacher once told him about life at Ferrari while offering his own verdict on Binotto.

“[Binotto] is a good engineer,” Ecclestone told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera. “But I think Ferrari lacks a leader. Do you know what Schumacher once told me? He said: ‘I’m the real team leader’.”

Schumacher’s 2004 title win was the last of his career and has only been replicated by one Ferrari driver since he left them.

The Prancing Horse’s wait for individual honours stretches back to 2007, when Kimi Raikkonen fended off Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso.

Mercedes, who Schumacher came out of retirement for in 2010, have since replaced Ferrari as the dominant force in F1.

Binotto and Ferrari will be eager to bring the Silver Arrows crashing back down to earth as the delayed 2020 campaign unfolds.

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Binotto admits the coronavirus pandemic makes it uncertain when racing will be able to start again after the first nine Grands Prix of the year were called off.

“I think it is very difficult to answer [when the season will start],” said Binotto this week. “No one can really know it.

“F1 is certainly trying to organise the best season, maybe starting early July if that would be possible but we cannot have any confirmation at the moment. But I think by the end of May we will have a clearer picture.

“I think it is in the interests of everyone to start racing when we can, when that will be possible, and have as many races as we can but I think now it’s too early to have a clear picture of what will be the future.”

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