Portland Trail Blazers

Portland Trail Blazers

Five-time NBA All-Star Tim Hardaway revealed a secret about Michal Jordan on the debut episode of ‘Sports Uncovered.’

“The reason why I’m smiling, I might get in trouble for this,” Hardaway said on the NBC Sports podcast. “[MJ] and Rod Higgins are really, really good friends. He came and practiced with us two or three times and we knew he was coming back then.”

Yep, the cat is out of the bag about a few secret practices.

Before Michael Jordan returned to the Bulls from his first retirement in the spring of 1995, he was a Golden State Warrior for two days.

In NBC Sports’ 'Sports Uncovered' podcast, members of the 1994-95 Golden State Warriors team detailed for the first time that Jordan dominated Dubs practices weeks before rejoining the Bulls 25 years ago.

‘Sports Uncovered’ is a six-part series that explores memorable sports events and figures in deeper and different ways through in-depth storytelling and high-profile interviews. Each NBC Sports regional network has developed and produced one episode.

Thursday’s debut podcast centers around Michael Jordan’s first NBA comeback announcement, called 'I’m Back'.

Jordan's connection to the Warriors before his return struck a chord in Portland. It is reminiscent of what the Trail Blazers are going through right now and it centers around big man Jusuf Nurkic.

 

Nurkic has been sidelined since March 2019 with an ankle injury and rehabbing it ever since. He was close to making his return days after the NBA shutdown. 

So, what do Jordan and Nurkic have in common? 

The Warriors. 

"Michael was a Warrior for 48 hours,” NBA forward and Jordan’s good friend Rod Higgins said. "MJ really wanted to play against Hardaway and [Latrell] Sprewell, because Sprewell was ‘the new it’, so to speak, in terms of the two-guard.”

Nurkic was a member of Warriors for an afternoon. Albeit, the Santa Cruz Warriors, but in a Warriors jersey, nonetheless. 

 

[RELATED: Trail Blazers fans not happy seeing Jusuf Nurkic in a Santa Cruz Warriors practice jersey]

With the Trail Blazers being so injury-depleted in early March, there aren’t enough healthy bodies for a full scrimmage.

And a full scrimmage is what Nurkic needed as the final step in rehabbing his left leg.

Thus, the Trail Blazers turned to Golden State’s G-League team, the Santa Cruz Warriors for assistance since the Blazers do not have their own G-League team.

Mar. 11, Nurk flew down to Santa Cruz with Trail Blazers assistant coach Jannero Pargo.

“I’m going to go to the G-League practice on the 11th. That’s my last stop before I [play] finally here,” Nurk said after practicing in Portland two days prior.

The evening following Nurk’s practice with the G-League squad, the NBA was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mar. 15 against the Houston Rockets was scheduled to be his targeted return game, which would’ve been 10 days short of the one-year mark when Nurkic went down. It was on Mar. 25, 2019 when he suffered compound fractures to his left tibia and fibula late in the game against the Brooklyn Nets.

When Nurkic tweeted out a picture of him wearing blue and yellow in a Santa Cruz Warriors practice jersey, Rip City was not having it.

So really, it’s probably best that Chicago Bulls fans never found out until today that MJ was practicing with the Warriors. It was hard enough seeing him in a Wizards jersey, wasn't it?

Sports Uncovered, the newest podcast from NBC Sports, will shine a fresh light on the most unforgettable moments in sports. Listen to the full episode of “I’m Back,” which reveals never-before-heard stories about the two-word fax from Michael Jordan that changed the course of NBA history.

Subscribe to Sports Uncovered for free wherever you listen to podcasts.