Michael Jordan’s Hall of Fame acceptance speech Friday turned into what some call a reverse roast — the former Chicago Bulls star took the opportunity to trash former coaches, teammates and media who got in his way and fueled his fire.
Some have been trashing MJ for using that opportunity to make himself look like such a spoiled sport. One of ‘em is Bryon Russell.
The former Utah Jazz guard, who just this past summer played for the Thousand Oaks-based Los Angeles Lightning of the International Basketball League, was called out by Jordan during his speech. He said Russell, the former Long Beach State standout in his rookie season with the Jazz, saw Jordan at a practice in 1994, during the time Jordan retired from the game — the first time, and took up baseball — and said: ‘Why’d you quit? You know I could guard you. If I ever see you in a pair of shorts…”
Jordan unretired in 1995.
Utah met the Chicago in a 1996 game.
“I’m at the center circle and Bryon Russell is standing next to me. I said, ‘You remember the [comments] you made in 1994 about, ‘I think I can guard you, I can shut you down, I would love to play against you? Well, you’re about to get your chance’,” Jordan said during his speech.
In the 1998 NBA finals, Utah played Chicago. Of course, there’s that freeze frame of Jordan hitting the game-winning shot in Game 6 — after faking Russell out in the process.
“From this day forward,” Jordan said in his speech, “if I ever see him in shorts, I’m coming at him.”
The quote was run back to Russell. He responded in a story by former Daily News NBA writer Marc Spears in Yahoo!Sports (linked here):
“I’ll play his ass right now. This is a call-out for him to come play me. He can come out here in his private jet and come play. He’s got millions of dollars. He can pay for the jet. He can meet me at the Recreation Center in Calabasas. We can have Mark Jackson do the commentating. We can have Mitch Richmond do the officiating. We can put it on TV and see if Michael’s still got it.”
Russell, Jackson and Richmond regularily play pickup games near their Calabasas home.