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‘Last Dance’: Horace Grant and Bulls teammates fire back at Michael Jordan

‘Last Dance’: Horace Grant and Bulls teammates fire back at Michael Jordan

A fascinating byproduct of ESPN’s “The Last Dance” is the relitigation of events that occurred over two decades ago.

Old wounds have reopened. Old jealousies have resurfaced.

Dynasties don’t just feature winning. They feature strong personalities and plenty of testosterone.

So it shouldn’t really surprise that teammates are starting to clap back at some of Michael Jordan’s claims from throughout the 10-hour documentary.

Speaking Tuesday morning on ESPN-AM 1000’s “Kap and Co.,” Horace Grant in particular took offense to Jordan’s claim that he was the primary source for journalist Sam Smith’s seminal book “The Jordan Rules.”

“As I stated to everybody, that is a downright, outright, complete lie. Lie, lie, lie. And as I stated, if MJ has a grudge with me, let's talk about it or we can settle it another way. But yet still, he goes out and puts this lie out that I was the source,” Grant told Kaplan, who also works for NBC Sports Chicago. “Sam and I have always been great friends. We still are great friends. But the sanctity of that locker room, I would never put anything personal out there. The mere fact that Sam Smith was an investigative reporter, that he had to have two sources to write a book, why would MJ just point me out, Ok? It's only a grudge man, I'm telling you.

“During this so-called documentary, if you say something about him, he's gonna cut you off. He's gonna try to destroy your character. I mean, Charles Barkley, they've been friends for over 20, 30 years and he said something about Michael's management with the Charlotte Hornets and then they haven't spoken since then.

“My point is that he said I was the snitch but yet still after 30, 35 years, he brings up his rookie year going into one of his teammate’s rooms and seeing coke and weed and women. Why the hell did he want to bring that up? What's that got to do with anything? I mean, if you want to call somebody a snitch, that's a damn snitch right there.”

Grant also fired back at a story told by Smith during a radio appearance that Jordan told flight attendants aboard the team’s charter plane to keep the power forward from eating when he didn’t play well.

“Anybody who knows me as a rookie knows that if anybody comes up and tries to snatch my food away, I'm gonna do my best to beat their ass. And believe me, back then I could've took MJ in a heartbeat,” Grant told Kaplan. “Yes, it's true that he told the flight attendant, ‘Well, don't give him anything cause he played like crap.’ And I went right back at him. I said some choice words that I won't repeat on here. But I had some choice words and stood up. If you want it, you come and get it. And of course, he didn't move. He was just barking. But that was the story. Anybody that knows me, where I come from or what I stand for, come on man, there's nobody on this earth that would ever come and try to take food off my plate and not get their rear end beaten.”

In a roundtable presented by BetOnline.ag called “The Final Dance,” Grant went a step further.

“Let me clear something up about this food thing that he tried to take my food. Listen to me. I would’ve beat his ass, guys. It wouldn’t be no Air Jordan now,” Grant said. “It wouldn’t be no six championships, I guarantee you that.”

Bill Cartwright, Craig Hodges and Ron Harper also participated in “The Final Dance” roundtable and made light of Jordan’s reputation as a tyrannical teammate.

“MJ knew who he can talk to and knew who he had to push. He was one of those guys who made you work harder because you see how he works,” Harper told BetOnline.ag. “You ain’t gonna talk crazy to me and don’t think I’m going to talk crazy to you. He would talk to Scott Burrell and Scott wasn’t man enough to stand up for who he was. You ain’t doing that s**t with me.”

Added Cartwright: “Let’s be kind. I think that the documentary meant to be something positive. That’s what I want to be. We saw really three guys — Will Perdue, Steve Kerr, Scott Burrell. Really, that’s the only people I’ve seen. So we’ll just leave it with that. I didn’t see all that holding people accountable. I saw us, our guys. And these guys here, I promise you these guys are extraordinarily competitive. They’re not going to put up with anything. You can tell any story you want. I didn’t see it.”

Grant said the documentary didn’t show teammates challenging Jordan back.

“We were grown men out there. We were professionals,” Grant said in the roundtable discussion. “For MJ to critique our basketball, OK, well listen, I don’t think he was hard per se because the documentary didn’t show that over half the guys he got on went back at him. You know damn well that I did. He wasn’t difficult at all because if you stand up for yourself — and you’re not Will Perdue or Steve Kerr…

“I wasn’t there for the second three-peat but I know some of the guys on that team. And I know damn well if you’re gonna call Harp and a few other guys b**ches and h**s, they wasn’t gonna stand for that. I’m pretty sure they edited that out of the documentary — Harp going back at him on that.”

In fact, the players felt plenty landed on the cutting-room floor.

“I felt that it could’ve been more about what the team did and what the players done,” Harper told BetOnline.ag. “But you know I understand they gave the copyrights to MJ. So it was more like ‘Come Fly With Me, Part 2.’ But it was good.”

Said Cartwright: “We knew it was going to be really one guy’s perspective of what happened. I think everybody here would have their own perspective. It was interesting to watch. The main thing for me is being able to recognize different guys like (strength coaches) Al Vermeil (and) Erik Helland, other teammates that were out there. Just making sure that people have a clear understanding of why our team was successful. We had the best team, the best bench and at that point in time we happened to have the best player in the league. I was watching it for entertainment value mostly because I knew what happened.”

Concluded Grant: “That documentary was for MJ, to be honest.”

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Why NBA role players could see on-court benefit from bubble environment

Why NBA role players could see on-court benefit from bubble environment

Kenny "The Jet" Smith never made an All-Star team across his 10-year NBA career. Nor earned an All-NBA selection.

But he did display a knack for stepping up when the spotlight shone the brightest. His two rings with the Houston Rockets evidence that. In the two postseasons that yielded those championships, Smith started all 45 games for Houston and averaged 30 minutes, 10.8 points and 4.3 assists per game while canning 44.4% of his attempts from 3.

The 2019-20 NBA playoffs will be unlike any the league has seen before. Over the next three days, 22 teams will make their way to Orlando, Fla. to tie a bow on an eight-game conclusion to the regular season and a 16-team playoff in a bubble environment amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Throw home court advantage out the window. All games will take place on a neutral court, and without fans.

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Who could such an environment benefit the most? Smith broke down his thoughts on the latest episode of the Bulls Talk Podcast, hosted by Jason Goff:

“I don’t know if it’ll affect the (quality of the) product,” Smith said of the unprecedented bubble atmosphere. “Like, they’re the best 350 players in the world. But there are levels inside of the 350. Players who are marginal inside of the best 350 in the world are going to play better. Because guys don’t play as well on the road as some play at home. There is no home. There is no road. Every game’s a home game, every game feels like a practice setting.

“The superstars have taken over a lot on road games. There is that. So now, I think you’re going to be like, ‘Man, I did not know such and such was so good,’ because he’s going to have a comfort level that he’s never had before. It’s going to feel like every game feels like an intense practice — more than an NBA game, but a super intense practice, which they’re accustomed to and they’re comfortable in that environment.”

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Of course, there will be other factors in play, as well. Though the NBA baked a three-week ramp-up period and scrimmage schedule into its restart plan to reacclimate players, the league’s four-month hiatus will have impacted each player differently depending on the resources at their disposal from their respective homes. With social distancing a priority, and gyms and practice facilities shuttered, think of the training differences between players living in big-city high-rises compared to sprawling suburban residences, plus the salary gap — and thus, the resource gap — that exists between older and younger players. Also looming will be the still-present dangers of COVID-19, which trump any purely basketball-related consideration.

Still, Smith’s theory is an interesting one. Long has the hypothesis of role players performing better at home than on the road in the postseason persisted. Perhaps the Orlando bubble will mark a definitive test of that.

RELATED: NBA season restart 2020: Schedule for 8-game seeding round for every team 

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Kenny Smith launches virtual basketball camp featuring NBA and WNBA stars

Kenny Smith launches virtual basketball camp featuring NBA and WNBA stars

Two-time NBA champion and TNT analyst Kenny Smith is launching Jet Academy, a virtual basketball camp staffed by the highest-level hoopers in the world to help boys and girls train their game while maintaining social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I was sitting at home and social distancing and quarantine, and my kids typically go to basketball camps,” Smith told Jason Goff on the latest Bulls Talk Podcast. “They can’t go to camps anymore, I can’t do my basketball camp in North Carolina, I had 700 kids. And I just noticed it was a need in the world that was going on, and I said I’m going to create — and I created — the first virtual basketball camp for kids and adults and anybody who plays the game, virtually. And you can do it from anywhere, any time, on any device, with anyone.”

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As for the instructors? Kemba Walker, Diana Taurasi, Brittney Griner, Victor Oladipo, Breanna Stewart, Sue Bird and Trae Young will all lead or co-lead training sessions. Those seven players account for 35 All-Star appearances and two MVP awards. 

Smith was clear that his intention isn’t to replace traditional trainers, but he believes those that have achieved greatness at the highest level will have special perspective to offer.

“I was talking to Kemba, I was like, ‘OK, Kemba, so this is what we need to do in the camp’ and he’s like, ‘OK, what are the drills you want to do?’” Smith said on the podcast. “I said, ‘No, no, no. Trae, Kemba, I want you to do the drills that you do to get ready. I want to see how you got your jumper like that. That’s what I would want to see. ‘Kemba, show me the pullback.’ He said, ‘Alright, I’ll show you the pullback.’ I said, ‘No, but then you gotta tell us why you use it and when you use it.’ That’s what a trainer at times can’t give you.”

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The camp tips off July 20 and will feature live, daily, two-hour video sessions with instructors that campers can follow along with remotely. Campers will also be able to text questions to instructors, upload video of them training for response within 48 hours, and view sessions on-demand. Smith stressed the importance of that interaction towards developing one’s game. 

Listen to the rest of Smith and Goff’s conversation, which touches on the litany of considerations facing the NBA as it embarks on its bubble experiment in Orlando, here or via the embedded player above.

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