When Michael Jordan shocked the world 23 years ago today

When Michael Jordan shocked the world 23 years ago today

On October 5, 1993, Michael Jordan arrived at Comiskey Park holding the biggest secret in the sports world.

Coming off his 3rd consecutive NBA title with the Bulls,  Jordan was the guest of honor that night, asked to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at Game 1 of the ALCS between the Chicago White Sox and Toronto Blue Jays.

"Is there anyone more symbolic of the winning attitude of the Windy CIty than Michael Jordan?" asked CBS play-by-play announcer Greg Gumbel on the air that night as Jordan threw his pitch wide to White Sox catcher Ron Karkovice.

The White Sox were on the verge of making it to their first World Series since 1959. The Bulls were seemingly the favorites to win their 4th straight NBA title.

Neither would occur. 

At precisely 9:58pm local time, with two outs in the 7th inning and the White Sox trailing 7-3, the city of Chicago and the entire sports world was shaken to their core.

Gumbel: "Let's go quickly to Pat O'Brien, Pat?"

O'Brien: "Greg, a breaking story here."

A breaking story?  What could it be?  Is Frank Thomas hurt?

Oh no.  It was much bigger than that.

O'Brien: "The Chicago Bulls have called a press conference for tomorrow morning, and there's high speculation that Michael Jordan will retire from basketball forever."

And just like that, the planet stopped spinning here in Chicago.

Michael Jordan retiring from basketball at the age of 30??  This couldn't have been true.

We didn't know for sure until the next day. The Bulls held a press conference at the team's practice facility and Jordan made it official.

"I've always stressed that when I lose the motivation, it's time for me to move away from the game of basketball," Jordan said to the hundreds of media members that packed the Berto Center and the millions of people watching at home, most of them in a catatonic shock.

Here in the future we can rest easy knowing that Jordan eventually returned to the Bulls and won three more championships. But back then, it felt like the world had come to an end. Certainly the Bulls world, and anyone who loved basketball.

Asked by a reporter at the press conference if he felt Jordan would ever return to the Bulls, Scottie Pippen said quite bluntly: "I don't think he's ever coming back."

I vividly remember seeing Pippen saying that. My heart sunk to my feet.

The video above looks back at what happened that night at Comiskey Park when the Jordan news broke, the utter disbelief felt by teammates and media members covering the press conference the next day, with footage that hasn't been seen since that fateful announcement exactly 23 years ago.

NBA Power Rankings: MVP race heating up


NBA Power Rankings: MVP race heating up

We are almost 30 games into the 2018-19 NBA regular season and the true contenders have started to seperate themselves from the pack.

The Raptors, Bucks and Sixers have been locked into a three-way race as the likely candidates for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, with the Celtics and Pacers gaining on them.

Out West, the entire conference is jumbled together with improved contenders popping up left and right, but the Warriors juggernaut appears  to be back on track. Strong MVP candidates have shaped the league this season and chief among them is former unanimous MVP Steph Curry. He has only played in 16 of their 27 games but has been absolutely astonishing when he has played.

The Warriors are a great team without Curry and a transcendent one with him. He is averaging 29 PPG, 5 APG and 5 RPG while shooting a career-best 51 percent from the field. Curry turned in a 42-point masterpiece in their recent win over the Cavaliers, and 20 points and 8 assists in a big win over the Bucks in Milwaukee.

The Bucks followed up that loss to the World Champion Warriors with a 5-point win over the Raptors. In the win, Milwaukee’s MVP candidate--Giannis Antetokounmpo--racked up 19 points, 19 rebounds and 6 assists and helped hold Kawhi Leonard to 8-18 shooting.

Even with the loss, Toronto is still in the top spot in the Eastern Conference and the play of Leonard is the driving force behind their league-leading 21 wins. And the other teams closing in on their record that haven’t been mentioned all have legitimate MVP hopefuls, sans the Clippers and Pacers, who have relied on an offense-by committee.

LeBron James—for once in his career—will actually be a dark-horse for MVP should the Lakers continue to sit in the lower half of the playoff race, fighting for seeds No.5 through No. 8. But his season can’t be ignored. James is leading the Lakers in points (28), assists (6), rebounds (7), and steals (1) per game. While Tyson Chandler and Javale McGee have been the key to the Lakers great defense, James has almost single-handedly elevated the Lakers offense to 15th in the league in offensive efficiency.

The Lakers will be a dangerous playoff team should they qualify, and it would be another reminder of the transformative power that James can have on a franchise.

We have big NBA games this week--more so in the West--that will suss out the MVP race a bit more. The Trail Blazers go up against the Grizzlies in Memphis, the Jazz take on the Magic in Mexico City, Nuggets play the Thunder in Denver and there is also a Lakers-Rockets rematch that features two squads that got into a very heated battle the last time they faced off.

The No. 8 seed is 8 games back of 1st place in the East, and a mere 3.5 games back of 1st place in the West, signifying just how tightly contested the 2018-19 season has been. See how the parity-filled league hierarchy shakes out in our latest Power Rankings, right here.

Report: Bulls players contacted the NBPA due to 'extreme tactics' from Jim Boylen

Report: Bulls players contacted the NBPA due to 'extreme tactics' from Jim Boylen

In a story published by Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports, it was stated that Bulls players reached out to the National Basketball Players Association on Sunday to protest what they felt were “extreme tactics” from new head coach Jim Boylen.

Boylen has made headlines from the start of his tenure as head coach, solidifying his stature as the former “bad cop” to Fred Hoiberg’s “good cop” through lengthy practices and questioning the team’s toughness and intensity.

Boylen has made his coaching style widely-known and shows no plans to change his hard-nosed ways, though Goodwill’s story says that sources told Yahoo Sports that Boylen felt that substituting out all five players at once was extreme in the moment. He initially pulled out all five players after going down 17-0 against the Celtics, and did it again after a 5-3 run by Boston in the second half that definitely seemed like an odd time to pull all five starters.

A telling excerpt from Goodwill’s piece was:

Players felt like they were being treated like high school athletes and those feelings of disrespect escalated when Boylen told the media the players needed to get in better shape, sources said.

Some of the disconnect seems to be stemming from what is being set forth as reasonable expectations. In Goodwill's piece it is stated that Boylen referenced his tenure with the San Antonio Spurs when speaking to the team, and it seems that some of the players are tired of hearing about his connections to the storied franchise:

A player responded, sources said, telling Boylen in essence that they aren’t the Spurs and, more importantly, he isn’t Popovich.

This year is about the development of the Bulls young talent as they likely prepare for another lottery pick. And now any meaningful development is in jeopardy, with so much drama now surrounding the team.

The main issue with firing Fred Hoiberg was always the awkward timing, and things appear to be getting much worse as it is clear there is some disconnect between Boylen and this roster.

A point that Boylen has tried to emphasize multiple times is that the players need to trust him. But with a reported (and unorthodox) directly-after-the-game film session, multiple 2+ hour practices and the aforementioned 5-man substitution in the blowout loss to Boston, it is clear that it will be hard for the players to fully trust him until they are on the same page as far as what both sides—Boylen and the players—expect from each other.