Perkins: MJ broke every player code in Last Dance

 nbcsports.com  05/23/2020 20:13:17 

In the wake of The Last Dance, ex-teammates and compatriots of Michael Jordan have come out hard against the manner in which some of the events of the Bulls dynasty were portrayed in the documentary.

Horace Grant called it a lie that he was the lone source for The Jordan Rules (which Sam Smith, who authored the book, corroborated). Craig Hodges (along with Grant) called Jordan out for openly discussing the Bulls Traveling Cocaine Circus anecdote in Episode 1. Ron Harper insinuated that Jordans reputation as a tyrannical teammate was exaggerated.

Kendrick Perkins, while lacking any association with those Bulls teams, played 14 years in the NBA and took it upon himself to criticize the way the Jordan-sanctioned documentary characterized his teammates in a recent appearance on ESPNs The Jump.

 

When you look at The Last Dance, the whole documentary, it made Michael Jordan look like a superhero, and it made everybody else look like a villain, Perkins said. Michael Jordan broke every player code imaginable& Some of the things he was saying with Scott Burrell, saying that he was in the club every night. Talking about what Horace Grant said about guys doing drugs, everyone except for him (Jordan). And then, The Last Dance hurt Scottie Pippen. People today are looking at Scottie Pippen like a selfish individual.

At the end of the day, The Last Dance was to praise Mike  which it should have been  but you didnt have to tear down other people to praise your greatness, because your greatness alone speaks volumes for itself.

Longtime NBA reporter Jackie MacMullan, also on The Jump panel, elucidated how some former teammates of Jordan felt watching the documentary based on conversations shes had.

When they heard The Last Dance, they were thinking, Oh, its about our team, MacMullan said. Well, no, its about one of the more compelling athletes who ever lived, its mostly about Michael. So I think some of them felt duped right from the get-go.

Everybodys truths are different& We could put five NBA players in a room and ask them to recount something that happened 20 years ago, and wed get five different stories. Thats just how it works. Everybody remembers it a certain way relative to themselves, oftentimes. And I think thats some of what were saying here.

Jordan indeed had editorial control over the documentary, a condition necessary to gaining interview access to him and unlocking the behind-the-scenes footage captured by the NBA from the 1997-98 season. ESPN agreed to that trade-off, and to great success. The ramifications are on full display as the dust settles.

But, as The Jump host Rachel Nichols says at the end of the segment: History is written by the victors, Michael Jordan was the ultimate victor.

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The NBA appears to be on the doorstep of a concrete plan to relaunch. Could the Bulls relaunch with it?

Saturday, ESPN's Ramona Shelburne reported the league has begun "exploratory discussions" with the Walt Disney Corporation about relaunching its season at the Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, starting in late July:

The NBA has entered into exploratory conversations with the Walt Disney Corporation about restarting the remainder of its season at Disneys ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida in late July, NBA spokesperson Mike Bass said Saturday.

— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) May 23, 2020

The NBA later released a statement from league spokesman Mike Bass, which said the 220-acre complex would serve as a single site for games, practices and housing.

The following is a statement from NBA Chief Communications Officer Mike Bass: pic.twitter.com/8gfK5iVXs8

— NBA (@NBA) May 23, 2020

What this evolving restart scheme means for the Bulls remains to be seen; much will depend on the schedule format with which the league decides to push forward. Also on Saturday, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that the NBA distributed a survey to GMs enumerating different formats the season could resume under  possibly a window into the league's thinking.

Those options range from skipping straight to a 16-team playoff, to a "Playoffs Plus" format that could involve anywhere from 18-24 teams, to resuming the regular season with all 30 teams. Both the "Playoffs Plus" format and the regular season scenario could reportedly involve a play-in tournament or group stage postseason round. Other questions in the survey included how late executives are willing to see the 2019-20 season run (with answers from Labor Day to Nov. 1) and how many regular season games should be played (72 or 76).

A 30-team regular season restart would incorporate the Bulls, as could a 24-team "Playoffs Plus" slate (at 22-43, the Bulls are currently paused with the 24th best record in the NBA).

But ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Friday that there is something of a prevailing sentiment to not bring every team back when the season kicks back up:

Several members of the league's board of governors believe that the NBA's preference isn't to bring every team to resume the season, but that remains undecided. First, the fewer teams, the fewer people at risk to spread or contract COVID-19. Also, with little chance to play more than five to seven regular season games, a month of preparation seems like an excessive investment for teams at the bottom of the standings.

Indeed, Wojnarowski also reported that the NBA is discussing a multi-step training camp program, that would break down as such:

  • Two-week callback of players into their respective markets, with designated qurantine
  • One-to-two weeks of individual workouts at team facilities
  • Two-to-three week format training camp

All of that work for five-to-seven games of potentially meaningless basketball does seem a tall ask  especially given the implications of expanding the bubble and further extending a season that is already running on severe delay. The finances aren't meaningless, of course, and that will be front-of-mind for the league as it undergoes the final stages of its decision-making process on the fate of the season over the final week of May.

When new guidelines are distributed "around June 1" (a date reported by Wojnarowski), hopefully they will bring more clarity.

RELATED: NBA Rumors: How league is moving toward season relaunch, including timetable 

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Craig Ehlo worked himself up from a misbegotten third round pick of the Houston Rockets, to a 10-day contract signee with the Cleveland Cavaliers, to a multi-year starter  a capable shooter and rugged defender who endured 14 years in the NBA.

And yet, all anyone wants to talk about it is The Shot. Ehlo reflected on that moment in his playing career  when Michael Jordan canned a game-winning, buzzer-beater jumper over him in Game 5 of the 1989 Eastern Conference first round  in an appearance on 670 The Scores McNeil & Parkins Show.

Any time I meet anybody on the street, at the grocery store, just passing by, and they hear my name, thats the first thing. Its the icebreaker, Ehlo said on the show. They have to ask me if Im that guy that involved with The Shot.

Ehlo takes it in good humor, though. He was quick to moniker Jordan the GOAT, and said that despite an initial sour taste in his mouth talking about "The Shot," hes come to appreciate his legacy as a rival to Jordan over the years. Paid commercial opportunities helped assuage him, as well; as they say in the business, all publicity is good publicity.

Still, his cameo in ESPNs The Last Dance featured, in his eyes, a few moments of hyperbole, especially from former Cavs teammate Ron Harper. In a present-day interview in the documentary, Harper claimed to have asked for defensive responsibilities on Jordan on the final play of the game instead of Ehlo, and called it f**king bulls**t that his wish wasnt granted.

We turned it (The Last Dance) on, and all of it was going great, I was loving everything, and then we go to real-time when Michael says, Honestly that (putting Ehlo on him) was a mistake, Ehlo said on the show. I didnt take that personal. I thought that was more directed at Coach Wilkins and his staff for making that decision. But my jaw dropped when Ron said, Coach, I got MJ, I got MJ, cause I didnt hear it.

Ive tried to watch some highlights of it and where Ron was in the vicinity with Coach Wilkins. But I think Coach Wilkins had an interview, and Mark Price did a couple I think, and they all said they didnt recall it happening that way. So I thought, well, maybe Michael and Ron are such good friends after their three championships and they still hang out and play cards and golf together, maybe they fabricated that for good TV (laughs).

RELATED: Did Ron Harper ask to guard Michael Jordan before 'The Shot?' Ehlo, Price unsure

Ehlo even recalled a conversation from when he first arrived in Cleveland, wherein Harper told him to take the lead guarding Jordan so Harper could focus his energy on the offensive end of the floor. Harper was a 20-point per game scorer in his Cavs tenure, and earned his reputation as a defensive stalwart later in his career  especially with the Bulls during the second three-peat.

On "The Shot" itself? Ehlo understands why it resonates to this day.

I guess because it was such an iconic fist-pump and celebration and Doug Collins running onto the floor, it was just made for perfect NBA entertainment, Ehlo said on the show. It changed the course of both franchises in my book.

But he doesnt let it shroud his unique appreciation for the city of Chicago, even as a foe.

I gotta say I love the Chicago fans, Ehlo interjected as he was hopping off the phone. I remember walking down Michigan Avenue one night after we ate somewhere and people just screaming at me saying, Hey, Jordans gonna kick your ass! I love that kinda stuff, it was great.

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