The blowout wins in Barcelona are covered, including Charles Barkley's infamous elbow against Angola and the ferocity with which Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen hounded Toni Kukoc, then a 22-year-old playing for Croatia. But where the sensational 90-minute documentary The Dream Team, which airs tonight on NBA TV, really finds its voice is with the candid, behind-the-scenes footage of the most remarkable team ever assembled.
Like many sports teams, the Charlotte Bobcats are caught in an argument between haters and homers. One group thinks the Bobcats are one of the worst teams in NBA history. Those are the homers. The haters think the Bobcats have been losing on purpose so they can get the No. 1 pick in the draft. The homers say "No, that's not fair. They really do suck this bad. They're not trying to suck; they just suck at trying."
It's obvious that the Miami Heat are talented enough to match or exceed the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls' NBA record of 72 wins in a season. The Heat's trio of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh could be as potent a three-man core as any in league history. But getting to 72 or beyond requires more than just superior talent. It takes a ton of other qualities as well, like health, unselfishness, toughness (both physical and mental), single-mindedness and no small degree of luck. A team that possesses all those qualities has a chance to make history. But only a chance.
GREENWICH, Conn., July 8, 1990 -- Michael Jordan announced on national television he's leaving Chicago to join the Detroit Pistons. Jordan said it was tough to bolt Chicago, where he was the most popular athlete in many years, because he thinks he has a better chance to win a championship if he plays with Pistons star Isiah Thomas. Jordan said by playing together, he and Thomas "won't have the pressure of going out and scoring 30 every night."
LeBron James' free agency has been the ultimate sports story for the Twitter age: constant updates, very little new information. The league thinks he's going to Chicago! Pat Riley is angling for him! The Nets want him to have his own Russian province! The Knicks heard he loves pretzels that taste like soot!
The most fascinating theater of these NBA playoffs is a one-on-one duel between two players who haven't even shared a court. They are at opposite ends of the legend career arc: Kobe Bryant, 31 years old, still clinging to his throne; LeBron James, just 25, trying to ascend to his. They are on opposite ends of the country, both playing hurt, both shaping their legacy, one painful and extraordinary minute at a time.
Our annual review of money and how it has been spent on players finds a total of $2,108,698,855 obligated to 502 players -- some to contracts of six years, others to contracts of 10 days -- for an average of $4.2 million per player this season, according to official NBA payroll figures I viewed Monday. This amounts to a reduction of $35.6 million in player salaries since last season.
This is going to sound very, very wrong... because, well, it is very, very wrong. But I'm sorry. I'll admit this straight out: I am fascinated by this Tiger Woods accident story. I'm fascinated, and I'm paying close attention, and I will read whatever stories come out about it. Sure, I know it's wrong. I know it's gossip. I know it's rubbernecking on a highway. I know. Tiger Woods and his family deserve some privacy in their lives. They should have the right to go on without having to share the most personal details of their lives. They should not have to deal with reporters and photographers stalking them. And so on. I believe these things with all my heart.
Bryon Russell wasn't joking when he challenged Michael Jordan to a game of one-on-one after being called out in Jordan's Hall of Fame induction speech. But Russell is beginning to think that Jordan was kidding when he agreed to play.
They are in many ways the perfect class, three players whose greatness is unquestioned, who have had the phrase "Hall of Famer" attached to their names long before this weekend, when the title becomes official. Michael Jordan, David Robinson and John Stockton have been referred to as future Hall of Famers or certain Hall of Famers for years now, for so long that the induction ceremony Friday night in Springfield, Mass., seems like a mere formality.
I was 24, Michael Jordan was 23. He was sitting on a padded table in the trainer's room at the Chicago Bulls' practice facility in 1986, a few days before he would score an NBA-record 63 points in a playoff game at Boston.
Several months before the 1992 Olympics, Michael Jordan sat down in a suburban Chicago health facility with pole vaulter Sergei Bubka of Ukraine. I was there to chronicle their conversation for a Sports Illustrated story -- albeit a rather invented one -- about two superstars just chilling prior to the Barcelona Games that would re-define the concept of global marketing. Bubka was ill at ease, but Jordan -- aware that I needed something to put in the ol' notebook and genuinely curious about a guy who would stick a pole in the ground, turn himself upside down and tumble 20 feet to earth -- filled in all the conversational cracks.
It was Tom Cruise doing dinner theater, Chris Rock performing at open-mike night and Justin Timberlake singing in the church choir. And yet it was none of those things, because when Michael Jordan announced in February 1994, just weeks before his 31st birthday, that he would attempt a career as a baseball player, it was a move so unheard of, so controversial, so odd, there was almost nothing with which to compare it. The greatest basketball player who ever lived, and one of the most famous people on the planet, was opting for a completely different outlet for his competitive fire.
Michael Jordan didn't leave the NBA to play baseball. He left retirement -- the first of his three retirements, actually -- to play baseball, and for a lot of his peers, that dampened the surprise and shock of Jordan's decision.
That's quite the class the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced Monday. Takes you back to the 1990s: Michael Jordan and a handful of others -- David Robinson, John Stockton and coaches Jerry Sloan and C. Vivian Stringer.
Though we've long debated the idea that a cast of teammates can make a player better -- Michael Jordan didn't teach Steve Kerr and John Paxson how to nail those 25-footers; he just got them the ball -- we are open to the idea that teammates can also make a player look a whole lot worse. Whether they're disrupting spacing, not working a give-and-go the right way or leaving a player out to dry on a screen-and-roll, some of these superstars have had to overcome quite a bit on their way to that 30-point night.