One of the more memorable stories from this past weekend’s episodes of ‘The Last Dance’ on ESPN, especially if you are from D.C., was the tale of LaBradford Smith slighting Michael Jordan and paying for it the next night.
As told by David Aldridge, now of The Athletic, Smith scored 37 points for the Bullets against the Bulls and after the game said to Jordan: «nice game, Mike.» Jordan then took that as motivation the following night in a back-to-back and sent a message by scoring 36 points in the first half alone.
The story was wrapped up with the caveate that Smith never actually said what he said, that it was another case of Jordan fabricating a reason to be motivate himself. But was it actually true?
Phil Chenier was there and remembers it a little differently. He was a broadcaster for what was then known as HTS and he recalls vividly an interaction between Smith and Jordan after the game.
Here’s how he told it on the latest episode of the ‘Wizards Talk’ podcast hosted by Chris Miller:
«Somebody else said he made that up. Well, I’m here to tell you he did not make that up,» Chenier said.
«We were doing the game in Chicago and LaBradford was having an exceptional game. Towards the end of the game, I noticed that LaBradford was kind of seeking out Michael. Like, on free throws, he would go and line up next to Michael. You know how you just kind of sense and pick these things up? And then, I don’t know why but for some reason I started following him after the buzzer at the end of the game. Players are walking off and I guess we went to break and I was kind of surveying everything. I noticed that LaBradford is not coming off the floor.
«At the old Chicago Stadium, you had the Bulls locker room behind one basket and the visiting team was behind the other basket. So, therefore you go in two separate ways. There’s no way you’re going to be going in the same direction. He kind of hung out down there and I saw him very strategically make his way towards Michael. Then, towards the end I saw him kind of pat him on the butt. Now, I wasn’t close enough to hear what he said. But the gesture certainly was like ‘hey, get them next time.’ I don’t know if Michael took offense to it at that point. Maybe he didn’t even use it. But the fact that LaBradford sought him out and went over and patted him on the butt, that did happen. I saw that happen.»
Now, there has been some confusion about the sequence of events. Even Smith has denied saying anything, citing the fact he didn’t address the media postgame.
But the story didn’t really suggest he said it through the media. And whether he said something or not, Chenier says he remembers an exchange.
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