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?