Two days later, Michael Jordan‘s Hall of Fame speech is still the biggest topic in basketball. And for the most part, the reviews were not positive. Common accusations were that MJ was confrontational, bullying, petty, ungrateful, and that he primarily used his stage to settle old scores. Our take? It’s obvious who amongst the critics have never played sports, or is so far removed from playing that they forgot what it’s like to be competitive. True, Mike didn’t exhibit anything near the vulnerability of, say, Michael Irvin‘s H.O.F. speech, but he wasn’t that bad. You could tell where he was going when he addressed his kids with “I wouldn’t want to be you guys,” but it just didn’t sound good out loud. Otherwise, it was basically Jordan thanking some of the people along the way who motivated him to be the best. Everyone jumps on MJ’s jock for being so competitive and being such a ruthless winner — well, how do you think he got that way? … And if you want to get all technical, Jerry Sloan‘s speech had a couple moments that could’ve been taken as being petty, like when he talked about people who fired him or coaches who didn’t play him. If you ask us, neither speech was bad. But nobody was expecting anything out of Sloan, and Michael is Michael, so he’s the big story … Another upset at the FIBA European Championships yesterday, and another involving the most talented team in the field. Spain losing to Turkey is one thing, but losing to Turkey when Hedo Turkoglu was a non-factor is another. Hedo scored just two points on 1-for-5 shooting and had four turnovers in the game. Turkey won thanks to a team-high 15 points from Ersan Ilyasova (you might recognize him as the ass nailed to Scott Skiles‘ bench in Milwaukee), big men Omar Asik (drafted by the Blazers in ’08) and Semih Erden (Celtics, ’08) giving Pau Gasol all kinds of problems, and Turkey’s guards getting to the lane easily. Gasol had 16 points, nine boards and three blocks for Spain, Rudy Fernandez scored 16, and Ricky Rubio put up three points and three assists … In the other two FIBA Europe games: Nenad Krstic had 18 points and eight boards to lead Serbia over Poland while Marcin Gortat posted 16 and 9 for the losers; and Slovenia smacked Lithuania behind Jaka Lakovic‘s 24 points and six threes … The Memphis Commercial Appeal has a big feature on Allen Iverson today, which included this interesting bit about A.I.’s time in Detroit:
“He went there, and he couldn’t really trust what people had told him,” said Gary Moore, Iverson’s business manager and grade-school football coach. “People in Detroit weren’t very truthful with him.”
According to Moore, Iverson had been told that he would be the leader of the team when he arrived, and that was not what played out. The players were upset that the front office had traded away Chauncey Billups, Moore said. Iverson was persona non grata before he even showed up.
“Allen couldn’t do anything about that,” Moore said. “When you lie to him, that affects him.”
… If that’s true, it may confirm the suspicions of those in the minority about the Iverson/Pistons debacle: That it was more about Joe Dumars and Michael Curry failing A.I. than the other way around … And no surprise here: Since Iverson joined the Grizzlies, ticket sales have shot up. “The last 48 hours it has been our biggest two days of sales since we started here,” a Grizzlies’ official said. The team is giving away free A.I. jerseys to new season ticket buyers, a much smarter strategy than last year, when they gave out the free Rudy Gay joints … Your basketball-related college football Saturday stat lines: Greg Paulus went 14-of-20 for 105 yards, one TD and two INT’s in Syracuse’s 28-7 loss to Penn State; and Javier Arenas racked up 126 yards in kick and punt returns in Alabama’s win over Florida International, including a 46-yarder … We’re out like Spain …