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MJ controlled 'The Last Dance' footage for 18 years – theScore

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Behind-the-scenes details of ESPN’s new documentary “The Last Dance” are emerging, and the decision to make the film rested with Michael Jordan himself.

NBA Entertainment shot most of the documentary’s footage over the course of the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls season – which before it began, was expected to be Jordan’s last with the team. However, then-NBA Entertainment head Adam Silver agreed to let Jordan control what happened with the content.

“Our agreement will be that neither one of us can use this footage without the other’s permission,” Silver told Jordan, according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne. “Worst-case scenario,” Silver told Jordan, “you’ll have the greatest set of home movies for your kids ever created.”

Despite attempts by Hollywood heavyweights Spike Lee and Danny DeVito to get the film made at some point, the footage remained locked away at the NBA’s Secaucus, New Jersey, office until 2016. That’s when Mike Tollin, who produced movies such as “Coach Carter” and TV shows like “Smallville” secured a meeting with Jordan.

Tollin met with Jordan in Charlotte the same day the Cleveland Cavaliers celebrated their 2016 NBA title, according to Shelburne. In the meeting, Jordan noted Tollin had worked on the 2014 documentary “Iverson” about the former NBA star.

“I watched that thing three times,” Jordan is said to have told Tollin. “Made me cry. Love that little guy.”

Jordan then apparently walked around the desk, extended his hand and said, “Let’s do it.”

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NHL teams eliminated from 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs free to make trades – Fear the Fin

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There’s still some doubt that the NHL’s 24-team playoff format will have enough time to play out, especially with the news today that training camps — Phase 3 of the league’s Return to Play Plan — would not begin before July 10, more than six weeks from now. But for seven teams (the Sharks included), there’s nothing left of the season whether the league returns to complete playoffs or not.

Detroit, Ottawa, New Jersey, Buffalo, Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Jose are now free to make trades with each other, a league source confirmed to Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic.

Though it may have been a larger and more diverse pool of teams eliminated, this is hardly different than the usual practice of allowing teams who do not qualify for playoffs to begin trading with each other once the regular season ends in April — though it’s not super common and generally the trades involve depth players. Mostly, the eliminated teams get a two-month head-start on setting price in the market before the draft.

But with the nebulous future of the season — despite being largely unaffected by the decision-making until it concerns the 2020-21 season — teams will probably be reluctant to pull the trigger. Salary cap uncertainty plays a roll, as well. With the cap unlikely to budge, it doesn’t seem advantageous to makes moves too quickly.

The other consideration is that the three California teams make up half of the available market and are unlikely to trade with each other. Notably, Doug Wilson went through the Boston Bruins to acquire Martin Jones from the Los Angeles Kings, a trade we all liked at the time and a reminder that no take can escape the bitter coldness of having aged.

Another player is the Ottawa Senators, and it might break Pierre Dorion’s brain if Doug Wilson swindles him a third time, so the market is pretty bare. If anything, the Buffalo Sabres organization appears to be having a difficult time right now and we’re living through a global pandemic, so anything is possible.

Ultimately, these seven teams didn’t make playoffs because they have incredible rosters, which is why this time typically only sees depth trades. If anything does pick up, I can’t imagine it would be before the play-in round for the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs happens, which might still be a matter of months.

Right now will likely involve a lot of talks that go nowhere and collegiate/European free agent signings. The most important head-start will be the extra resources and time available to focus on scouting and strategy for the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.

That said, Doug Wilson has also been known to scoop a good depth player, so if he wants to start working the phones, I’m good with that, too. I bet he could pay off the Red Wings to liberate one of the good prospects from the Kings. Just something to consider if you’re reading this, Doug.

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Sabres' Krueger on Eichel: 'I like the anger' – TSN

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Buffalo Sabres head coach Ralph Krueger said Friday he has no problem with captain Jack Eichel voicing his frustrations, but he hopes to use it in a constructive way.

“I like the anger,” Krueger said of Eichel’s comments. “I have no problem with people outing frustration on the past. But then let’s move that conversation forward, real quick, and let’s figure out what we’re going to do about it.”

Eichel said on Thursday that he was “fed up” with losing, two days it was announced the Sabres would be one of the seven teams not to qualify under the NHL’s Return to Play 24-team playoff format.

“Listen, I’m fed up with the losing and I’m fed up and I’m frustrated,” Eichel said during a conference call with media. “You know, it’s definitely not an easy pill to swallow right now. It’s been a tough couple of months. It’s been a tough five years with where things have [gone]. I’m a competitor. I want to win every time I’m on the ice. I want to win a Stanley Cup every time I start a season.”

The Sabres have missed out on the postseason in all five years of Eichel’s career and nine straight in total. The 23-year-old finished with a career-high 36 goals and 42 assists in 68 games this season, Krueger’s first with the team.

On Thursday, Eichel credited his continued development to Krueger, the third coach he has had in his short career.

“I’d be lying if I said that I’m not getting frustrated with where things are going and I think we took a step this year, but I will say it’s been a pleasure working with Ralph,” Eichel said. “He does so much for our group every day. There are tough times and he does an amazing job of…narrowing our focus and getting us back to where we need to be mentally. And just the few times that I’ve spoken with him, you know, throughout this quarantine, whatever you want to call it, it’s been good.”

Defenceman Rasmus Ristolainen also credited Krueger for helping him improve this season on Thursday, but noted that he could be traded if the team elects to make changes this off-season. Krueger, however, said Friday does not want to see the 25-year-old moved.

“I want to coach Risto next season,” Krueger said. “I would enjoy coaching Risto next season. … Risto was all-in.” 

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How NHL could transition from paused to handing out Stanley Cup – Sportsnet.ca

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“There’s no magic to starting in October,” Gary Bettman said this week, but there may be some found in finishing then.

For it looks increasingly like that’s when the commissioner will be handing over the Stanley Cup if health conditions allow the NHL to go ahead with a 24-team tournament to crown a champion at the end of its coronavirus-interrupted season.

Bettman was reluctant to attach specific dates to his league’s return-to-play plan after Tuesday’s unveiling and said anybody who did would be “guessing.”

So let’s stick with the known facts, as best we can, in sketching out how the NHL might transition from paused to completing the playoffs.

The earliest players will be required to report to their teams for training camp is July 10. That was communicated to them in a Thursday afternoon memo. While there’s no certainty the league will be ready to transition to Phase 3 at that point — camps could conceivably open later in the month instead — let’s use the best-case scenario as a baseline.

Senior Writer Ryan Dixon and NHL Editor Rory Boylen always give it 110%, but never rely on clichés when it comes to podcasting. Instead, they use a mix of facts, fun and a varied group of hockey voices to cover Canada’s most beloved game.

Now the NHL is granting the players a fair bit of latitude in helping shape how the resumption unfolds, including final say on the length of training camps. The players on the “Return To Play Committee” have indicated a need for at least three weeks to get back in game shape, although there seems to be some flexibility on their part now that team facilities are expected to open late next week for small-group workouts.

Perhaps, with ice available to everyone for somewhere in the neighbourhood of five weeks before camps officially open, they won’t require as much time as initially thought.

“We really want it to be more on the cautious side than obviously kind of being aggressive,” said Toronto Maple Leafs captain John Tavares, one of five players serving on the ‘Return To Play Committee.’

“I really think we’re going to get a better sense … as we get into Phase 2: How guys are feeling, how long that phase is going to be, really what we’re going to need. It’s not an exact science.”

In sticking with an optimistic view, let’s say they end up needing two weeks on the ice together in their playing cities. That takes us to July 24. The next step will see teams travel to their hub cities to complete training camps and play two exhibition games apiece, which is expected to last another week.

Now we’re sitting at July 31.

How long the tournament itself takes to play is currently resting in the hands of the NHL Players’ Association as it decides on the remaining format issues. It could be completed in as few as 59 days if best-of-fives are used for Rounds 1 and 2 followed by best-of-sevens in the conference finals and Stanley Cup final.

An additional nine days are required to play four rounds of best-of-seven, like usual, following the best-of-five play-in series.

It’s not an easy choice given the concerns many players have about being separated from their families to complete the season. However, the signs seem to point to them electing to commit to the longer tournament to preserve the integrity of the Stanley Cup.

“I think anyone who gets their name on it wants to earn it like the players that did before them,” said Tavares. “I think the sense I got, and I think my own personal view, is it would be nice to play all four rounds of the playoffs as a best-of-7. As what we’re used to.”

Kris Letang, the NHLPA rep for the Pittsburgh Penguins, expressed a similar sentiment after discussing the matter with his teammates.

“One thing that comes up often is the fact that everybody is used to the best-of-7,” said Letang. “You know how it’s structured, you know how it feels if you lose the first two [games] or you win the first two. You kind of know all the scenarios that can go through a best-of-7.

“I don’t think there’s any players in this league right now that played back in the day in the best three-of-five. So I think it’s just an easier thing to just put a best-of-7 because everybody knows what to expect and you have no excuses of not being prepared for that.”

Should that end up being the case, a tournament starting Aug. 1 could see Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final played on Oct. 7.

And that’s assuming everything proceeds in a timely manner between then and now — far from a guarantee, despite the big strides already made by completing the playoff framework and getting a good handle on how the COVID-19 testing will be handled.

There’s still a lot of back and forthcoming on key issues that need to be negotiated between the league and players.

All of which points to one conclusion: If the NHL manages to complete this unusual 2019-20 season, it will have to do so more than a calendar year after it initially started.

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