The Willis Tower took a page out of Michael Jordan’s book last week.
On Tuesday, serious flooding caused a power outage in the iconic building, giving it a striking new look.
Have you seen the creepy pictures of Sears Tower sans lights? Flooding knocked out power to the building. Also, I like that people still call it the Sears Tower. Which reminds me, I need to stop at Hooks on the way home from work today. pic.twitter.com/phspRyfVGl
The NBA appears to be on the doorstep of a concrete plan to relaunch. Could the Bulls relaunch with it?
Saturday, ESPN's Ramona Shelburne reported the league has begun "exploratory discussions" with the Walt Disney Corporation about relaunching its season at the Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, starting in late July:
The NBA has entered into exploratory conversations with the Walt Disney Corporation about restarting the remainder of its season at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida in late July, NBA spokesperson Mike Bass said Saturday.
What this evolving restart scheme means for the Bulls remains to be seen; much will depend on the schedule format with which the league decides to push forward. Also on Saturday, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that the NBA distributed a survey to GMs enumerating different formats the season could resume under — possibly a window into the league's thinking.
Those options range from skipping straight to a 16-team playoff, to a "Playoffs Plus" format that could involve anywhere from 18-24 teams, to resuming the regular season with all 30 teams. Both the "Playoffs Plus" format and the regular season scenario could reportedly involve a play-in tournament or group stage postseason round. Other questions in the survey included how late executives are willing to see the 2019-20 season run (with answers from Labor Day to Nov. 1) and how many regular season games should be played (72 or 76).
A 30-team regular season restart would incorporate the Bulls, as could a 24-team "Playoffs Plus" slate (at 22-43, the Bulls are currently paused with the 24th best record in the NBA).
But ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Friday that there is something of a prevailing sentiment to not bring every team back when the season kicks back up:
Several members of the league's board of governors believe that the NBA's preference isn't to bring every team to resume the season, but that remains undecided. First, the fewer teams, the fewer people at risk to spread or contract COVID-19. Also, with little chance to play more than five to seven regular season games, a month of preparation seems like an excessive investment for teams at the bottom of the standings.
Indeed, Wojnarowski also reported that the NBA is discussing a multi-step training camp program, that would break down as such:
Two-week callback of players into their respective markets, with designated qurantine
One-to-two weeks of individual workouts at team facilities
Two-to-three week format training camp
All of that work for five-to-seven games of potentially meaningless basketball does seem a tall ask — especially given the implications of expanding the bubble and further extending a season that is already running on severe delay. The finances aren't meaningless, of course, and that will be front-of-mind for the league as it undergoes the final stages of its decision-making process on the fate of the season over the final week of May.
When new guidelines are distributed "around June 1" (a date reported by Wojnarowski), hopefully they will bring more clarity.
In the wake of “The Last Dance,” ex-teammates and compatriots of Michael Jordan have come out hard against the manner in which some of the events of the Bulls’ dynasty were portrayed in the documentary.
Horace Grant called it a lie that he was the lone source for “The Jordan Rules” (which Sam Smith, who authored the book, corroborated). Craig Hodges (along with Grant) called Jordan out for openly discussing the Bulls’ “Traveling Cocaine Circus” anecdote in Episode 1. Ron Harper insinuated that Jordan’s reputation as a tyrannical teammate was exaggerated.
Kendrick Perkins, while lacking any association with those Bulls teams, played 14 years in the NBA and took it upon himself to criticize the way the Jordan-sanctioned documentary characterized his teammates in a recent appearance on ESPN’s The Jump.
“When you look at ‘The Last Dance,’ the whole documentary, it made Michael Jordan look like a superhero, and it made everybody else look like a villain,” Perkins said. “Michael Jordan broke every player code imaginable… Some of the things he was saying with Scott Burrell, saying that he was in the club every night. Talking about what Horace Grant said about guys doing drugs, everyone except for him (Jordan). And then, ‘The Last Dance’ hurt Scottie Pippen. People today are looking at Scottie Pippen like a selfish individual.
“At the end of the day, ‘The Last Dance’ was to praise Mike — which it should have been — but you didn’t have to tear down other people to praise your greatness, because your greatness alone speaks volumes for itself.”
Longtime NBA reporter Jackie MacMullan, also on The Jump panel, elucidated how some former teammates of Jordan felt watching the documentary based on conversations she’s had.
“When they heard ‘The Last Dance,’ they were thinking, ‘Oh, it’s about our team,’” MacMullan said. “Well, no, it’s about one of the more compelling athletes who ever lived, it’s mostly about Michael. So I think some of them felt duped right from the get-go.
“Everybody’s truths are different… We could put five NBA players in a room and ask them to recount something that happened 20 years ago, and we’d get five different stories. That’s just how it works. Everybody remembers it a certain way relative to themselves, oftentimes. And I think that’s some of what we’re saying here.”
Jordan indeed had editorial control over the documentary, a condition necessary to gaining interview access to him and unlocking the behind-the-scenes footage captured by the NBA from the 1997-98 season. ESPN agreed to that trade-off, and to great success. The ramifications are on full display as the dust settles.
But, as The Jump host Rachel Nichols says at the end of the segment: “History is written by the victors, Michael Jordan was the ultimate victor.”
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