Tag Archives: Michael Jordan

JORDAN COULDN’T RESIST TELLING BOBBY KNIGHT HOW QUICK HE WAS

Jay C. Brandriet

7/18/18

When you see potential gaps of time missing from Jordan’s career, it’s in three places. He broke his foot in his second season. He retired twice. A few of his legendary peers went right from high school to the NBA. Michael spent three years at the University of North Carolina. It was a different world in 1983. The VHS tape was just catching fire, and we had to watch commercials. To be a student at Chapel Hill was the best choice for his path at that time.

Jordan’s college and Olympic success reached the highest levels. Dean Smith helped mold him. In 1983-84 Michael peaked as the best player in the country. He was an NCAA champion in 1982.

Most of you know the story. MJ was a freshman and his UNC Tarheels were playing Georgetown for the NCAA championship. UNC was down one point with fifteen seconds left. Michael’s iconic  jump shot was the go ahead basket. North Carolina is a champion forever. That play was Jordan’s clutch side introducing itself.

Right before he became an NBA rookie, Mike was busy taking other countries to summer school. The 1984 United State’s Olympic team was the last amateur U.S squad to win a gold medal in men’s basketball. They were 8-0 and won by an average of 32 points.

Wikipedia describes the tournament in the “Legacy” category this way. “The 1984 Olympics were a coming-out party for Michael Jordan, who led the U.S. team in scoring and dazzled the worldwide viewing audience with his athleticism and speed.”

He won with terrific players in both situations. Fact remains, Jordan was a winner before his NBA days. It should matter just a little more than it does. This is the age of debate and details.

You know about the hops. It’s Michael’s foot speed and quickness that lack credit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Team USA was coached by Bobby Knight. He is one of the biggest names and controversial figures known to the sport. Shortly after Jordan’s first retirement in 1993, Knight sat down with David Letterman and said the following:

“Michael Jordan is the best that’s ever played anything. To draw a comparison maybe you could pick Jim Brown or Babe Ruth. I think Michael took it to a different level.”

“We were going for the gold medal in Los Angeles in 1984. We are playing Spain and we led by 28 points at the half. Jordan has played 11 minutes. He has 19 points, 12 rebounds, and nine assists. We played the game as well as basketball can be played. I’m a great believer of lets play better in the second half. I’m walking across the floor and thinking, what am I going to say to get us to play any better? I open the locker room door and the first person I see is Michael. I figure I should jump all over him, to make a point to the other guys.”

“I walk over and I say Mike, when you gonna set a screen? We got four guys out their screening, when the hell you gonna screen somebody? All you’re doing is rebounding, passing and scoring. Screen somebody out here! Mike looked up at me and said…”coach didn’t I read last week you said I’m the quickest player you’ve ever been around?” I said, ya, what does that have to do with you screening? MJ answered “coach, I think I set them quicker than you can see them.”

 

Jay C. Brandriet

 

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LEBRON TO THE LAKERS? A LITTLE RISKY, AND MORE BRILLIANT

Jay C. Brandriet

7/2/18

These LeBron James decisions have become familiar, massive television events. The delivery is getting smoother and the choices are getting better. The story broke last night. Four years, 153.3 million dollars. LeBron is leaving Cleveland to  join the Los Angeles Lakers.

We know these takes remain a little blurry. The Lakers and other teams are still incomplete. This squad will look different in a few years.

This move is a little risky, but it’s more brilliant.

It’s risky because he’s playing in the Western Conference. This group of teams offers a ton of heavy weights. Remember the Battle Royal in the WWF? It’s brilliant because he is showing he is willing to give up his grip of Eastern domination, to come hang with the “big boys.”

It’s risky because he has to play the Warriors to get to the Finals. It’s brilliant because he may as well get in there and go nose to nose with them. He is already connected with that group for life. Friends close, enemies closer.

It’s risky because he is playing on a must win stage. He is competing in the shadow of the best individual players in NBA history. It’s brilliant because he will ultimately win. He will become one of those Lakers shadows.

What if he failed in L.A.? LeBron is more self secure than he used to be. He’s showing lack of fear to do this.

The Lakers fan base is a nation. Tonight, “King James”  took their love hostage. The prize athlete in the sport is with its most glamorous franchise. He is normally the top story.  In L.A, he is THE STORY. LBJ just made sure the defending champion Warriors  are the second most popular team in the state of California.

Some imply this will be James farewell act. Not true. He will only be saying goodbye to his prime. He will do it chasing Michael Jordan under the brightest of lights. He can never be as perfect as Mike, but he will match him by taking different roads to GOAT island. He will do it with the volume of greatness.

Winning in multiple cities is one angle ( I think he gets at least one ring with the Lakers).  He will be relevant as an active player for more than two decades. It will be during the noisy internet, social media era. He is now in Los Angeles? He’s piling on. Basketball society will be overwhelmed by his long-term relevance, as he smashes records nightly. LeBron loves to control the narrative.

Even if James teams up with a player as top shelf as Kawai Leonard, this time LBJ doesn’t look as bad. The Warriors have gotten to the point they are seen as skilled bullies. More “super teams” are about to be seen as normal.

It’s ironic my favorite player (“Magic”), just joined forces with LeBron. Russ Riggs gets it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

He is in the best place for his family and his entrepreneurial goals. You know this is going well when Dan Gilbert and Cavaliers fans are celebrating LBJ today.

Jeanie Buss and Magic Johnson are the right people in the key seats.  I like the fit basketball wise. James meshes with everyone, and this team is full of young, ready to improve talent. Tonight they also added JaVale McGee and Lance Stephenson. Both add physical impact. More shooters and help are still on the way, this year and next. LeBron and Luke Walton will get along  just fine. Walton will let James run things, but has enough experience and respect to maintain his status.

L.A. has struggled for a handful of years. LeBron is about to save the Lakers. He sure picked a good story to control.

 

Jay C. Brandriet

THE 35 GREATEST PLAYER’S I’VE SEEN IN THE NBA

Jay C. Brandriet

7/1/18

This is not an all time list. It’s not even a “my time” list. There are several players I watched that I did not include (Kareem. Moses, and more).  I wanted to focus on those I felt I saw at their best.  It’s a challenge not to list about 125 guys. Here are the 35 I’d claim are the best I’ve seen to date. Kyrie, Dominique, and Alonzo Mourning just missed the cut.

 

#35- TRACY MCGRADY – If you can score 13 points in 35 seconds to beat the Spurs, you’re hired.

#34- JAMES WORTHY– I picture him waving the ball around like it’s a grape fruit. First step, spin move, two points.

#33- PAUL PIERCE- I always thought of Paul as a grind it out, low-level superstar. In the end, he had a phenomenal career.

#32- GRANT HILL- He was such a big deal as a new age point forward. As an older player, Grant became a defensive guy.

#31- KEVIN MCHALE– Karl Malone and Charles Barkley both called McHale their toughest matchup. Kevin was a back to the basket stud.

#30- JASON KIDD- Pushing the ball with that hard dribble, J Kidd had eyes everywhere.

#29- CHRIS WEBBER – His hands were basketball magnets. Sensational passer. Chris hit the top five player level in the pros.

#28- GARY PAYTON – In his defensive crouch, Palms showing. Rocking his head side to side, and chewing his gum like the cockiest man alive. “The glove” was legit.

#27- JAMES HARDEN – Point flurry’s, step back threes, makes you foul him…Harden is an offensive witch.

#26- RUSSELL WESTBROOK- More than all these triple doubles, Westbrook’s competitive fire is the story.

#25- PATRICK EWING- Patrick had the size, rugged traits, and one of the most elegant shots from the baseline.

It’s a joke Chris Webber is not in the Hall of Fame.

 

 

 

 

 

 

#24- SCOTTIE PIPPEN- On six title teams, Pippen ranged anywhere from the third to twelfth best player in the world.

#23- CLYDE DREXLER- Clyde was a classic aerial player and finisher at the basket. Rare Drexler note: He finished in the top ten in steals, seven times.

#22- STEVE NASH- He almost glided as he ran. Nash was a degree of difficulty shot maker, and his percentages are clean.

#21- KAWHI LEONARD- Before he went down with injury last May, I thought Kawhi was ready to challenge LeBron James as the best in the game.

#20- ALLEN IVERSON- His blinding quickness, aggressiveness, and long arms made him so unique.  Iverson mopped up the floor with his body.

#19- CHRIS PAUL- He competes like he wants to bite your face off. Chris has led the league in steals six times.

#18- JOHN STOCKTON- He destroyed bigger people fighting through picks. John’s precision and decision-making were an art.

#17- ISIAH THOMAS Isiah played the game like he knew he was being watched. He was a showman, built for the big moment.

     

At this point, Steph Curry does not need the validation of a “Finals MVP trophy”. Dude is brilliant.

                                                       

 

 

 

 

 

 

#16- CHARLES BARKLEY- He shot 58 percent from the field over his first six seasons. Chuck’s work on the boards is still baffling for his height.

#15- DIRK NOWITZKI- His Finals MVP performance in 2011, is etched in my mind as true greatness. Five players in history have more points than Dirk,

#14- DWYANE WADE- I remember those hesitation dribble moves, before he’d explode to the hoop. Wade was a  closer from day one.

#13- DAVID ROBINSON – Robinson was chiseled, mobile, and cat quick. He owns the NBA’s last quadruple-double.

#12- KARL MALONE – “The Mailman” running the outside lane, and rattling the rim  in his early days was a scary sight.

#11- KEVIN GARNETT- One of the most versatile players to live. KG wouldn’t even let the other team score, after the whistle.

#10-STEPHEN CURRY- He became the first player to attempt a three point shot from 29 feet….early in the shot clock…and it still felt responsible.

#9- KEVIN DURANT- Looking at Durant’s controversial move a couple years ago, he’s now covered himself by his June performances.

#8- TIM DUNCAN- Tim was a coaches dream. Poise. Brains. Worker. Unselfish.  All time winner.

#7- SHAQUILLE O’NEAL- Shaq couldn’t be guarded in his prime. He was an automatic dunk, and led the NBA in field goal percentage ten times.

#6- HAKEEM OLAJUWON- At his apex, his offense and defense were both a ten. He covered space in the blink of an eye.

“Dream” is the best defensive player I have seen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#5- LARRY BIRD– For all the attributes he brought to the game, Bird also had an intimidating swagger.

#4- KOBE BRYANT- For my money, the most over all skilled player in NBA history.

#3-MAGIC JOHNSON- Most fitting nickname in all of sports.

#2- LEBRON JAMES- Think of the career he has had. LeBron will dominate for at least five more years and it’s mind-blowing.

#1- MICHAEL JORDAN – From what I’ve seen over 32 seasons, Jordan is the clear standard by which basketball excellence is measured.

 

Jay C. Brandriet

A STORY ABOUT MY DAD, STEVE URKEL, AND MICHAEL JORDAN

Jay C. Brandriet

6/27/18

 

I would say my Dad was a casual basketball fan. He helped me love the game, but the NBA wasn’t his priority. He was a Utah Jazz supporter, and was quite invested from about 1988-93.  My Mom (Jazz fan) could sit back and marvel at Michael Jordan. My Dad respected Magic, Bird, and Mj. He was not going to celebrate them. They were not on the Jazz.

It was a Friday night in the early 1990’s. My Dad was sitting in a room while an episode of “Family Matters” was playing. I was about eight feet away and could only hear the sound. In this episode Steve Urkel is over at the Winslow house while Carl is watching a Chicago Bulls game.

I’m paraphrasing. You could hear the game announcer say…”The score is tied….Jordan has the ball….4 seconds….3 seconds….2….Jordan shoots it from the elbow…..and”….

Right then Urkel pulls his typical clumsy move and unplugs the TV. Carl is freaking out. “STEEEEEVE!!!!”

I assume Steve asked…”Did I do that?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ll never forget my Dad shaking his head at Carl’s panic, then saying “He hit it. Relax.”

Jordan didn’t make all of his clutch shots. He missed many of them. This story was an objective look at  how people saw Michael when the game was on the line. They expected him to gut you.

Jay C. Brandriet

WHY THE “NBA MOUNT RUSHMORE” DOESN’T WORK ANYMORE

Jay C. Brandriet

6/23/18

A common challenge often handed out in pro basketball chatter is to name your “NBA Mount Rushmore”.  I assume this means the four players you think were the best, who won the most, and had the largest impact on the sport.  I’d ask who you would choose, but it doesn’t work anymore. Too many legends have come through to fill just four spots.

I believe there are ten guys with a case SO STRONG, they can’t be left off this massive South Dakota sculpture.

MICHAEL JORDAN

LEBRON JAMES 

KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR

MAGIC JOHNSON 

BILL RUSSELL 

WILT CHAMBERLAIN

KOBE BRYANT

LARRY BIRD 

SHAQUILLE O’ NEAL 

TIM DUNCAN

 

No matter which four I pick, you can pick four just as good.

 

 

 

 

 

Smart arguments could also be made for Jerry West, Oscar Robertson, Dr. J, and Hakeem. Elgin Baylor or Havlicek would be legit choice for an older fan. I’d get your pioneer angle if you just had to add  Mikan or Cousy. Give KD and Steph some more years of domination, and wow. I know it’s just for fun, but we need a bigger mountain.

Jay C. Brandriet

 

 

 

FOUR CRITICISMS OF LEBRON JAMES THAT HAVE TO DIE

Jay C. Brandriet

5/30/18

LeBron James has been the best basketball player on the planet for at least the last eight seasons.  He just literally, carried his Cavaliers to an  Eastern conference title. Now, on a daily basis he is compared to the best baller I’ve ever seen. James lives in the social media era, where he is praised and ripped on every single play. LeBron is the ultimate hot button topic with NBA fans. Some hate him, and try to belittle his place in history. Some love him so much, they are foolish enough to rip on Jordan. “King James” is a beast times one thousand. I think these four criticisms of him have to die.

 

 

 

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Saying he would enter the dunk, and never doing it was a bit lame. His in game dunks made up for it.

 

 

#1- “JAMES WAS NEVER CLUTCH.”

Relax LeBron haters. I know James collapsed in the 2011 Finals. I know that he was too passive late in games often times in the first half of his career. My buddy Tony Abbott  loves to remind me every time he splits a pair of big free throws. At the apex of LeBron’s “clutch struggles” (mostly invented by Skip Bayless), I thought he was a very good in pressure.  Today, he’s one of the greatest clutch players of all time.

#2- “DRAYMOND GREEN WAS SUSPENDED FOR GAME 5.” 

So a high level player in an over heated moment gets himself kicked out? So what!  Draymond got himself suspended. He also was there for six of the seven games. On the road to rings, guys get hurt, ejected, or caught in foul trouble. LeBron being without Kyrie and Kevin Love for the 2015 Finals was a much bigger deal. That’s life. The Cavs beat a 73 win Warriors team. Period.

#3- “RAY ALLEN SAVED LEBRON’S LEGACY WITH THAT THREE.”

Ray Allen hit one of the biggest threes in NBA history in the 2013 NBA Finals. That part is true. It came on the heels of crucial mistakes made by James. The part where James goes on to make up for it in-game seven is not even my point. Every legend has messed up. All of them needed teammates to help them win and many times bail them out. This shot by Allen has become a micro managed subject in the Twitter universe, to take jabs at LeBron.

#4- “LBJ  WAS WEAK FOR NEVER BEING IN A DUNK CONTEST.”

This one fascinates me. I heard a well-known 70-year-old sportscaster recently say, “I’m still holding out hope that LeBron completes his resume by entering a slam dunk contest.” Really? Have you not got your fill over his 37,000 combined points? I’ve never needed to see James in that circumstance. I don’t think the league needed it either. What Dr. J did helped shape the NBA. MJ and Dominique put themselves out there to duel in 1988. Vince Carter was, well  Vince Carter. We need to give those players credit. James not being in that contest, is irrelevant to his story. He’s one of the elite dunkers to play the game.

 

Jay C. Brandriet

 

THE DRAMATIC SHIFT IN THE PERCEPTION OF MICHAEL JORDAN

Like every part of his craft, Jordan took pride in his passing skills.

Jay C. Brandriet

5/10/18

It’s been 20 seasons since Michael Jordan added his sixth ring and retired as a member of the Chicago Bulls.  From that time to today, there has been a dramatic shift in how people perceive MJ.

 

 

Jordan is the greatest player I’ve ever seen, in any sport. The first 10 years after hitting that shot at Utah, he was actually overrated. Really!

Fans said he was WAY better than Magic and Bird. I had to explain it was closer than that.

They said Pippen was a joke. The focus was on how he was NOT a top 50 player. They talked about how in his first few years he was essentially a nobody. I was told how Michael had to push him physically and challenge him mentally. It was said Michael created Pippen. I had to tell them regardless of that, Scottie was anywhere from the 4th to 13th best player in the world on six championship teams.

People said Rodman was a detriment. They said he was a distraction, Apparently all he could do was rebound, and was not worthy of the Hall of Fame. I would talk about the energy he created to change crowds and games nightly.

Hakeem and his Rockets still don’t get enough credit for their back to back titles in the mid 1990’s, because Mike was playing baseball.

Even from people who hated MJ, his reputation became inflated. It’s like he never missed a shot, never lost a game, and never failed in the clutch.  The idea was “Air Jordan” couldn’t possibly have a flaw or have done anything wrong on the basketball floor. As a Washington Wizard, he was still a legit All-Star (top 24 to 30 player). He was viewed as a mythical figure, even as he now had cracks. I had to bring up  the mistakes, and the failures. Jordan was not perfect, he’s just the closest thing to a perfect player I have seen.

Now its two decades later and a shift has occurred. Time has passed and new greats have emerged. Many lovers of the game did not see MJ at his apex (1990-93). Jordan has actually become, underrated. I never thought I’d see it. I never thought I’d say it.

Kobe was a sobering figure in some ways. Not only did he play like Michael, he came awfully close to being as good. His career reminded us, legends keep coming and number 23 was probably a human being. LeBron James is the real deal. He is worth the noise he creates in sports. He also has legions of fans (who never saw prime Mike) making up lies and trying to alter the narrative on Jordan.

All of the sudden in 2018,  being undefeated and never being pushed to seven games in the Finals is not that big of a deal.

There is now this hilarious take that “Jordan never beat great teams in the Finals.”

Some TV personalities say with a straight face that Michael had help on his early Chicago teams, and underachieved.

The once ultra criticized  Scottie Pippen is now said to be among the VERY BEST to ever play, and MJ could never do anything without him.

There is this idea brewing that Michael was mostly a scorer, and may have lacked a complete game.

I’ve heard his numbers somehow have flaws compared to others.

I saw Jordan. He was the most complete, fundamentally sound player I have watched (he hit his free throws too). He was the most fierce, the most athletic, and creative. His ability to close games and choke teams out was THE KEY to his biggest victories.

No Michael could not average 50 points if he wanted, and he could not win games simply by using the force. If you are invested in LeBron’s climb up the ladder, put your focus on him. If you are trying to diminish who Jordan was, you are playing the fool.