With the NBA season on hold for the foreseeable future, basketball fans have been turning their attention to The Last Dance, a 10-part docuseries on Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.
The series, which airs on ESPN and Netflix, features never-before-seen footage shot by a film crew during the 1997-98 season, Jordan’s last with the Bulls.
Fans have candid encounter with Michael Jordan outside Vancouver restaurant
Eagle-eyed viewers may have spotted footage in the fourth episode of The Last Dance filmed prior to the Bulls taking on the Vancouver Grizzlies at General Motors Place in January 1998.
Jordan played three games in Vancouver, each an instant sell-out; fans paid scalpers as much $600 — about $950 in today’s dollars — per ticket for a chance to see the most popular athlete of the era.
During Jordan’s last visit to Vancouver, the Bulls were followed by a throng of media, including a film crew shooting behind-the-scenes footage that sat in archives for years before being used in The Last Dance.
Famed author David Halberstam was also in town working on his book, Playing for Keeps, which chronicled Jordan’s last season with the Bulls.
“It’s exciting to come as an ambassador to the game and bring awareness about NBA basketball to an area where hockey is the dominant sport,” Jordan told reporters in Vancouver prior to the Jan. 27 game.
Montreal-born centre Bill Wennington, the lone Canadian on the Bulls roster at the time, said he acted as something of a cultural ambassador who did his best to explain life north of the 49th parallel to his teammates.
“So I tell them, ‘Back home I used to have the quickest dogsled team on the block and I tell him that electricity is something that’s only been here for a couple years,” he joked.
“So they come up here and they say, ‘This is really nice.’ This is Vancouver, it’s really advanced.”
Two rallies outside Rogers Arena before NBA game
Bulls forward Dennis Rodman chose not to speak to the media assembled at General Motors Place that day, having just learned that he had not been selected for the NBA’s eastern conference all-star team.
“I’m not surprised,” Jordan said of the omission. “I’m pretty sure that they took into account his last little escapade.”
The “little escapade” Jordan was referring to was Rodman’s trip to Las Vegas earlier that month. As documented in The Last Dance, the mercurial forward asked head coach Phil Jackson for a couple of days away from the team to clear his head.
The sojourn lasted longer than 48 hours and ended when Jordan found Rodman holed up in a Las Vegas hotel room with his girlfriend, actress and model Carmen Electra.
Prior to the game at GM Place, fans followed Rodman as he strolled through Vancouver’s Pacific Centre mall with bodyguards at his side.
One fan said he asked Rodman for an autograph and the star forward gave him a one-word reply: “Later.”
Come game time, the Bulls took care of the sadsack Grizzles, beating them 103-85.
Jordan finished 20 points while Rodman had 22 rebounds.
Scottie Pippen was the Bulls’ leading scorer, finishing with 29 points. Pippen had missed 35 games earlier in the season following foot surgery and The Last Dance revealed that his decision to delay the procedure to October was a sore spot with teammates.
After the game, Jordan praised Pippen’s performance.
“Scottie can set the tone for us,” he said. “I’ve always said that and with him out, on the road, we’ve always struggled, especially in the closing minutes of the ballgame.
“His tone that he set early really dictated the rest of the game.”
An oral history of the Vancouver Grizzlies
The game marked Jordan’s last appearance in Vancouver. He retired from the Bulls after the 1997-98 season. He returned to the NBA in 2001 with the Washington Wizards, but by that time the Grizzlies had moved to Memphis.
While Jordan’s 1998 performance was his last in Vancouver, his first visit to GM Place proved to be his most memorable.
The upstart Grizzlies were leading the Bulls by two points through the first three quarters of their matchup on Nov. 30, 1995. Jordan, in an uncharacteristically lacklustre performance, had scored just 10 points up to that point.
Then Grizzlies point guard Darrick Martin, in a fit of misguided confidence, decided to talk a little trash.
“You ain’t so hot,” Martin told Jordan, according to Halberstam’s book Playing For Keeps. “I can stop you any time I want.”
Grizzlies head coach Brian Winters promptly benched Martin but the damage had been done. Jordan went on to score 19 points in the game’s last six minutes to give the Bulls a 94-88 win.
“Michael came by our bench and wagged his finger and said to Darrick, ‘Don’t ever talk to me like that again,’” Winters told Global News back in 2015.
“He got another win, and we got another loss.”
— With files from The Canadian Press
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Bruins win Presidents' Trophy for 2019-20 season – NHL.com
The Boston Bruins won the Presidents’ Trophy, awarded to the team with the best record in the regular season.
The Bruins were 44-14-12 and led the NHL with 100 points when the 2019-20 season was paused March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.
The NHL in its Return to Play Plan announcement May 26 said there would be no more regular-season games, instead restarting with eight teams in each conference playing a Qualifying Round for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, with a Seeding Round Robin featuring the top four teams in each conference.
The Bruins had five winning streaks of at least four games, including three of at least six games. They had a 13-game point streak (9-0-4) from Nov. 10-Dec. 5 and ended the season with at least one point in 30 of their final 37 games (24-7-6).
It’s the third time the Bruins have won the Presidents’ Trophy since it was first awarded in 1985-86. They did so in 2013-14, when they lost to the Montreal Canadiens in the Eastern Conference Second Round, and in 1989-90, when they lost to the Edmonton Oilers in the Stanley Cup Final.
Boston was led by forward David Pastrnak, who tied Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals for the NHL lead with 48 goals and was tied with Artemi Panarin of the New York Rangers for third in the League with 95 points.
Goalies Tuukka Rask (26-8-6, 2.12 goals-against average, .929 save percentage) and Jaroslav Halak (18-6-6, 2.39 GAA, .919 save percentage) combined for eight shutouts and helped the Bruins allow the fewest goals in the NHL (167, 2.39 per game), earning Boston goalies the William M. Jennings Trophy for the third time (Andy Moog and Rejean Lemelin, 1989-90; Tim Thomas and Manny Fernandez, 2008-09).
Ovechkin of Capitals, Pastrnak of Bruins win Richard Trophy – NHL.com
Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals and David Pastrnak of the Boston Bruins won the Rocket Richard Trophy, awarded to the top goal scorer in the NHL, for the 2019-20 season.
Each forward scored 48 goals (Ovechkin in 68 games, Pastrnak in 70) before the season was paused March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.
The League, in its Return to Play Plan announcement Tuesday, said there would be no more regular-season games, and instead would restart with eight teams in each conference playing a Qualifying Round for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and a Seeding Round Robin featuring the top four teams in each conference.
It’s the ninth time Ovechkin has led the League in goals, including each of the past three seasons; he scored 51 goals in 2018-19 and 49 in 2017-18. Ovechkin also led the League in 2007-08 (65), 2008-09 (56), 2012-13 (32), 2013-14 (51), 2014-15 (53) and 2015-16 (50).
The No. 1 pick in the 2004 NHL Draft, Ovechkin (34 years and 178 days old at time of season pause) is the third-oldest player to lead the NHL in goals, behind Gordie Howe of the Detroit Red Wings in 1962-63 (34 years, 358 days) and Bill Cook of the New York Rangers in 1932-33 (36 years, 165 days).
Ovechkin, who became the eighth player in NHL history to reach 700 goals when he scored against the New Jersey Devils on Feb. 22, began the season in 13th place on the NHL all-time goals list with 658 and finished it eighth with 706, passing Luc Robitaille (668 goals), Teemu Selanne (684), Mario Lemieux (690), Steve Yzerman (692) and Mark Messier (694). Ovechkin is two goals behind Mike Gartner (708) for seventh.
Ovechkin has 11 seasons of at least 45 goals and was two from reaching 50 for the ninth time in his 15-season NHL career.
Named one of the 100 Greatest NHL Players presented by Molson Canadian in 2017, Ovechkin has won the Hart Trophy (NHL MVP) three times, the Art Ross Trophy (NHL scoring champion) once, and was the Calder Trophy winner as NHL rookie of the year in 2005-06. He is the only player in NHL history to win the Stanley Cup, Conn Smythe Trophy (playoff MVP), Calder Trophy, Art Ross Trophy, Hart Trophy, the Ted Lindsay Award (voted best player) and the Rocket Richard Trophy.
It is the first time Pastrnak, who turned 24 on May 25, has won the Rocket Richard Trophy. He set an NHL career high in goals this season and has increased his total in each of his past five seasons. He has scored at least 34 goals in each of the past four seasons, and his 155 since 2016-17 are third in the NHL behind Ovechkin (181) and Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (158).
Pastrnak led the League with 20 power-play goals and tied for third in points (95) for the Bruins, who won the Presidents’ Trophy with the best record in the regular season.
Agent Scott Boras to clients in memo: Don’t bail out baseball owners – Sportsnet.ca
NEW YORK — Agent Scott Boras recommends his clients refuse Major League Baseball’s attempt to cut salaries during negotiations with the players’ association, claiming team financial issues caused by the coronavirus pandemic have their origin in management debt financing.
In an email obtained by The Associated Press, Boras wrote that players should not alter terms of the March 26 agreement between MLB and the union that called for players to reduce their salaries to a prorated rate based on a shortened season. MLB on Tuesday proposed a series of tiered reductions that would cause top stars to receive the biggest cuts.
“Remember, games cannot be played without you,” Boras wrote. “Players should not agree to further pay cuts to bail out the owners. Let owners take some of their record revenues and profits from the past several years and pay you the prorated salaries you agreed to accept or let them borrow against the asset values they created from the use of those profits players generated.”
Boras is baseball’s best-known agent and represented 71 players on active rosters and injured lists as of Aug. 31, the most among player representative firms. His Newport Beach, California-based company negotiated more than $1.2 billion in contracts during the off-season.
Salaries were set to range from $563,500 for players at the major league minimum to $36 million for Mike Trout and Gerrit Cole, the latter a Boras client. Under the March agreement, the range would be cut to roughly $285,000 to $18 million for the 82-game regular season MLB has proposed. Under the economic proposal made by MLB this week, the range would be reduced to about $262,000 to $8 million, including shares of a bonus all players would receive if the post-season is played.
“Owners are asking for more salary cuts to bail them out of the investment decisions they have made,” Boras said. “If this was just about baseball, playing games would give the owners enough money to pay the players their full prorated salaries and run the baseball organization. The owners’ current problem is a result of the money they borrowed when they purchased their franchises, renovated their stadiums or developed land around their ballparks. This type of financing is allowed and encouraged by MLB because it has resulted in significant franchise valuations.”
“Owners now want players to take additional pay cuts to help them pay these loans. They want a bailout,” he added. “They are not offering players a share of the stadiums, ballpark villages or the club itself, even though salary reductions would help owners pay for these valuable franchise assets. These billionaires want the money for free. No bank would do that. Banks demand loans be repaid with interest. Players should be entitled to the same respect.”
Commissioner Rob Manfred has said 40% of MLB’s revenue is related to the gate. Teams told the union on May 12 that MLB would lose $640,000 for each game played in empty ballparks without fans. MLB claimed that playing with prorated salaries in empty ballparks would cause a $4 billion loss and give major league players 89% of revenue.
Washington pitcher Max Scherzer, among three Boras clients on the union’s eight-man executive subcommittee, issued a statement late Wednesday night saying “there’s no need to engage with MLB in any further compensation reductions.”
Boras cited the purchase of the Chicago Cubs by the Ricketts family and the redevelopment of Wrigley Field. Debt financing was key to both, he said.
“Throughout this process, they will be able to claim that they never had any profits because those profits went to pay off their loans,” he wrote. “However, the end result is that the Ricketts will own improved assets that significantly increases the value of the Cubs — value that is not shared with the players.”
Boras asked clients to “please share this concept with your teammates and fellow players when MLB request further concessions or deferral of salaries.”
“Make no mistake, owners have chosen to take on these loans because, in normal times, it is a smart financial decision,” Boras wrote. “But, these unnecessary choices have now put them in a challenging spot. Players should stand strong because players are not the ones who advised owners to borrow money to purchase their franchises and players are not the ones who have benefited from the recent record revenues and profits.”
He added salaries have been flat for several years. The opening day average has been in the $4.4 million rang e since 2016.
Cincinnati pitcher Trevor Bauer addressed Boras on Wednesday on Twitter.
“Hearing a LOT of rumours about a certain player agent meddling in MLBPA affairs,” Bauer tweeted. “If true — and at this point, these are only rumours — I have one thing to say … Scott Boras, rep your clients however you want to, but keep your damn personal agenda out of union business.”
Boras declined to comment on Bauer’s remarks.
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