Bulls

Jordan holds court at anniversary ceremony

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Jordan holds court at anniversary ceremony

Saturday, March 12, 2011
Posted 10:07 p.m.

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

At halftime of the Bulls 118-100 win over the Jazz Saturday night, a ceremony to honor the 20th anniversary of the franchises first championship took place, featuring members of the 1990-91 team, including one Michael Jeffrey Jordan.

After the ceremony, Jordan spoke to reporters about the unique experience.

For me, some guys I havent seen in a while. Dennis Hopson, I havent seen since 1991 and for us to reunite, tell old stories, it brings back a lot of great memories and I wish we could turn the clock back, said the Hall of Famer. Thats how I feel, but Father Times coming touches everybody and youve got to deal with the cards that you have. I miss it.

Looking back upon the journey the team took to get to that moment particularly overcoming hated division rival Detroit Jordan reflected fondly on winning the title.

Winning your first one everyone said a scoring champion cant win so that mattered for us, winning our first one. Beating the Pistons, getting past the Pistons, all that was gratifying and then doing it five more times after that, stated Jordan. If I had to pick the first one or the last one, thats a tough choice, especially when youre trying to repeat something every single time.

The Bulls legend opined on the potential of the current edition of the franchise he made a household name worldwide, expounding on his previous thoughts about All-Star point guard Derrick Rose.

I was just talking to former teammate and current Bulls vice president John Paxson, the guys upstairs, and I said, You guys could be the best team in the East. No, I dont think its going to take them seven years. Theyve got a good, talented team and once again, I think theyve got the MVP of the league.

"Hes Rose coming into his own, hes maturing quite a bit, said Jordan. When he came into the league, everybody said he had speed, he could get to the rim, but he cant shoot. Now, he can shoot the three, as well as pull-up shots. He has very few flaws. Im pretty sure the next thing theyre going to say is he doesnt play very good defense or he cant handle the double team, but time will tell.

"The kid works hard and I think hes a great piece for this franchise to rebuild with and theyve got some other pieces that help them quite a bit in the East.

Everybodys talking about Boston and everybodys talking about Miami and Orlando, you tend to forget about Chicago. You can have a lot of work on your hands.

Jordan also discussed his connection to the Windy City, a place that immediately embraced him as an NBA rookie, all the way to the present day, despite him owning a rival NBA franchise.

I had an autograph signing this morning and I signed parts of the old stadium floor, said Jordan, who mentioned the late Johnny Red Kerr when he addressed the United Center crowd on the floor where he once dominated as a player. This the United Center is a beautiful place here, but what was more beautiful was the Chicago Stadium and the home-court advantage we had back in the day. We can sit here and reminisce all day long.

"To me, its unbelievable and Im glad I had the opportunity to spend time here and make my career here. The fans are very enduring, in terms of the hard work and effort we put on the floor. I played for them. As much as I played for myself, I played for the fans of Chicago.

I love the city. I still live here, contrary to what everybody believes. My home is still here, I still pay taxes here, so Im still living here. I want the city to do well. Theyve been very instrumental in my whole career me living here and raising my kids and everything and every chance I can get to come back and thank them, its truly gratitude for me, he added.

Im very happy with the warm reception that I get every time I come here, even though Ive left and gone and done other things.

Jordans best line, however, came as he was walking away from the media throng in the bowels of the United Center.

When asked about his thoughts on Roses long-term future, the business-minded hoops icon looked over his shoulder and quipped, Any time you want to give him, well take him.

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.com's Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.

Steve Kerr told a Michael Jordan Bulls story to give advice to Kevin Durant

Steve Kerr told a Michael Jordan Bulls story to give advice to Kevin Durant

Anyone who lived through the Michael Jordan Bulls remembers those games when he was putting up tons of points, but the Bulls were still struggling overall.

Steve Kerr referenced one of those games to give advice to Kevin Durant during Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals. The TNT broadcast caught the conversation and aired it late in the third quarter.

"When MJ was with the Bulls, we had a playoff game," Kerr began the story. "He kept trying to score and he was scoring, but we weren't getting anything going. Phil Jackson said 'Who's open?' He said, 'John Paxson.'"

Paxson scored 10 of 12 points for the Bulls during a fourth quarter run in Game 5 of the 1991 NBA Finals, the series clincher, and famously hit the game-winning shot in Game 6 of the 1993 NBA Finals to clinch that series. Kerr, who later hit his own championship-winning shot on an assist from Jordan in 1997, was trying to get to get his teammates involved.

"I want to trust your teammates early," Kerr said. "What you're doing is you're getting to the rim and then you're trying to hit him. I want you to trust the first guy and then move. Still attack, still look to score, but trust these guys, OK?"

Watch the video above to see the interaction.

Durant scored 29 points in Game 5 to lead the Warriors, but Houston took a 3-2 series lead with a 98-94 win.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander stock is on the rise; just how high will he climb?

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USA TODAY

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander stock is on the rise; just how high will he climb?

John Calipari's 2017 recruiting class featured five McDonald's All-Americans and Hamidou Diallo, a former five-star recruit who nearly jumped to the NBA the previous year. It also included a lanky 6-foot-6 point guard named Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. And for the first part of the 2017-18 season, the Toronto native who played his final two high school years in Tennessee, appeared to be a nice fit off the bench for Calipari.

But something flipped. Gilgeous-Alexander was inserted into the starting lineup for good on January 9 and never looked back. He played his best basketball beginning in late February to the end of the season, a span of 10 games against eight NCAA Tournament opponents. In those games Gilgeous-Alexander averaged 19.0 points, 6.3 rebounds and 6.7 assists. He shot 51 percent from the field, 50 percent from deep and 84 percent from the free throw line, and added 1.4 steals in nearly 38 minutes per game for good measure. He was one of the best players in the country, and on a team with five McDonald's All-Americans, he was Calipari's best freshman.

"I knew with how hard I worked that anything was possible," SGA said at last week's NBA Draft Combine in Chicago. "It was just a matter of time before it started clicking and I started to get it rolling."

That stretch included a 17-point, 10-assist double-double against Ole Miss, a 29-point showing against Tennessee in the SEC Tournament, and 27 more points in the second round of the NCAA Tournament against Buffalo. Even in his worst game of the stretch, a 15-point effort against Kansas State in the Tournament, he made up for 2 of 10 shooting by getting to the free throw line 12, converting 11 of them.

It made his decision to make the jump to the NBA an easy one - that, and another loaded Calipari recruiting class incoming. He stands taller than just about any other point guard in the class and might have as good a jump shot as any. He's adept at getting to the rim, averaging 4.7 free throw attempts per game (that number jumped to 5.6 after he became a starter, and 7.5 in those final 10 games of the season. He isn't the quickest guard in the class, but he uses his feet well, is able to find open shooters due to his height and improved on making mistakes on drive-and-kicks as the season went on.

"I think I translate really well to the next level with there being so much more space on the floor and the open court stretched out," he said. "It only benefits me and my ability to get in the lane and make plays."

There's something to be said for him being the next in line of the Calipari point guards. The ever-growing list includes players like Derrick Rose, John Wall, Tyreke Evans, Eric Bledsoe, Jamal Murray and DeAaron Fox. It's the NBA's version of Penn State linebackers or Alabama defensive linemen. The success rate is nearly 100 percent when it comes to Calipari's freshmen point guards; even Brandon Knight averaged 18.1 points over a three-year span in the NBA.

"That’s why guys go to Kentucky," Gilgeous-Alexander said. "It prepares them for the next level. Coach (Calipari) does a really good job, especially with point guards, getting them ready for that next level in a short amount of time."

Gilgeous-Alexander didn't test or play in the 5-on-5 scrimmages, but he still came out of Chicago a winner. He measured 6-foot-6 in shoes with a ridiculous 6-foot-11 1/2 wingspan, a full three inches longer than any other point guard at the Combine. He also added, rather uniquely, that he watches of film Kawhi Leonard playing defense. Most players don't mention watching film on different-position players; most players aren't 6-foot-6 point guards.

"(It's) obviously a more versatile league and playing small ball. And with me being able to guard multiple positions, a lot of teams are switching things like the pick and roll off ball screens, so me being able to switch and guard multiple positions can help an organization."

Gilgeous-Alexander's arrow is pointing way up. He appears to be teetering near Lottery pick status, though that could go one way or the other in private team workouts, especially if he's pitted against fellow top point guards like Trae Young and Collin Sexton. But if his rise at Kentucky is any indication, he'll only continue to improve his game, his stock and eventually his draft position.