Here’s the story so far. During his Hall of Fame induction speech, MJ called out Bryon Russell: “From this day forward, if I ever see him in shorts, I’m coming at him.” Russell immediately accepted that challenge: “I’ll play his [naughty word for butt] right now. This is a call-out for him to come play me.”
Now Brendt Andersen, owner of the D-League’s Utah Flash, wants in on the action. He’s even willing to sponsor the duel and donate $100,000 to charity to make it happen. On his blog, Andersen said: “So here is my offer: Michael Jordan vs. Bryon Russell — 1 on 1 challenge to 21. I will personally donate $100,00 to charity in the name of the winner. We can do it during the half time of the Utah Flash home opener on December 7th. … I have already called BRuss directly and spoken to him about the event. I have also sent a message through a mutual friend to MJ to invite him. He is going to be a little more difficult to convince but not impossible. This would be a good PR move for him following his speech. Back up those words that anytime you see BRuss with his shorts on you are ‘coming at him.’”
I have to agree with Matt Watson of NBA FanHouse on this one…it’s never going to happen. Said Watson: “Jordan may be the most competitive person alive, but he’s also not one to be publicly bullied. And considering he reportedly earned $45 million last year, $100,000 is less than a day’s pay for him, so it’ll take a lot more than that for him to risk damaging his pride. If Jordan were to actually get involved with a charity exhibition, it’d likely be on pay-per-view with a dozen sponsors and a commemorative shoe, not halftime entertainment at a D-League game.”
It’s a lose-lose situation for Jordan. He acted like a bully during his speech and took heat for it. Now, if MJ refuses to face Russell or simply ignores the challenge, he’ll look like he’s backing down…and the whole point of his speech was that he never backed down from anybody who challenged or doubted him. He defeated them all.
Will he do it this time?
From the Associated Press: “The Basketball Hall of Fame has opened a Michael Jordan exhibit before his enshrinement next month. The display features items from Jordan’s NBA career and from his time at North Carolina and with the 1992 Olympic Dream Team. There is also a batting glove from Jordan’s brief foray into baseball. The exhibit is made possible in part by a $250,000 donation from Nike and features several pair of the superstar’s Air Jordan shoes.”
Hall of Fame historian and archivist Matt L. Zeysing said: “It’s just a great project. The exhibit highlights Michael’s entire career, not just with the Chicago Bulls but in college at North Carolina, and with the U.S. Olympic Dream Team (in 1992). Michael’s appeal had crossover popularity. A young kid, living in the city, would grow up and love Michael Jordan, but the mother of that kid would love him, too.”
According to the Republican Sports Desk: “The Jordan display will include a 40-foot timeline, and examples Jordan’s line of basketball footwear. … Also available for viewing with be Jordan jerseys from throughout his career with the Bulls, Washington Wizards and Olympic team, and rings from all six NBA titles the Bulls won from 1991-98. … A four-minute movie will be shown continuously. Narrated by Jordan himself, the film shows highlights of his basketball career as well as other aspects of his legacy, including his brief attempt to play pro baseball in the mid-1990s.”
The Jordan exhibit will remain at the hall for several months after enshrinement. Maybe I’m being a little bit of a homer here, but I think the Jordan exhibit should be kept at the hall pretty much forever. I mean, he isthe best basketball player of all time right? Shouldn’t the Basketball Hall of Fame permanently celebrate the greatest pro baller to ever squeeze into short pants? I think so. Actually, I think the Hall should have a special exhibit for three pro players: Wilt Chamberlain (the greatest compiler of stats), Bill Russell (the greatest winner) and Michael Jordan (the greatest of the greats). But this is a good start.