Michael Jordan considered declining Dream Team Olympic invite

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Michael Jordan said he hoped not to be offered a Dream Team Olympic roster spot.

“I was trying to figure out a way, graciously, that I could decline,” Jordan said in the 2012 NBA TV documentary on the legendary 1992 Barcelona Olympic men’s basketball team.

Jordan said he “had done the Olympic thing before.” True. He starred on the 1984 U.S. Olympic team that took gold in Los Angeles, back when college players made up the roster.

Sam Smith, in his 1992 book “The Jordan Rules,” relayed that Scottie Pippen asked Jordan before a March 1991 Chicago Bulls game if he wanted to participate in the 1992 Olympics. Jordan’s response: “Why would I?”

Jordan noted the exhaustion of playing a whole NBA season and playoffs, followed by pre-Olympic contests and the Games themselves. And that his 1984 Olympic coach, the stern Bobby Knight, made it a less enjoyable experience.

“The one guy that we were a little bit concerned about was probably Michael,” said Rod Thorn, a member of the USA Basketball 1992 Olympic selection committee who, as the Chicago Bulls general manager in 1984, drafted Jordan.

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Come summer 1991, Thorn extended the Olympic invitation.

“When Rod Thorn called me and asked me, I wasn’t gung-ho about it,” Jordan said nearly two decades later.

Thorn appealed: You’re the world’s best player. This is bigger than the NBA Finals. We need you.

“[Jordan’s] thing — well, who else is playing?” Thorn said in the NBA TV documentary. “Are all the good players going to play? I’m not going to play by myself.”

The next call went to Magic Johnson, who was all-in. Dominoes followed.

When the NBC Selection Show came up Sept. 21, 1991, Jordan was dressed finely, sitting between Johnson, who revealed Jordan’s inclusion, and Marv Albert.

Albert’s first question to Jordan was why he changed his mind after he originally indicated he would not play.

“My instruction to Rod Thorn when he first invited me that I was going to keep it low key and let this show happen, so I played it like it never was going to happen,” Jordan said. “I knew all along that I was going to play. I had you guys fooled.”

MORE: Michael Jordan’s note to Bobby Knight before 1984 Olympic final

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Mikaela Shiffrin heads to world championships with medal records in sight

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Before Mikaela Shiffrin can hold the World Cup wins record, she can become the most decorated Alpine skier in modern world championships history.

Shiffrin takes a respite from World Cup pursuits for the biennial world championships in France. She is expected to race at least four times, beginning with Monday’s combined.

Shiffrin has a tour-leading 11 World Cup victories in 23 starts this season, her best since her record 17-win 2018-19 campaign, but world championships do not count toward the World Cup.

Shiffrin remains one career victory behind Swede Ingemar Stenmark‘s record 86 World Cup wins until at least her next World Cup start in March.

Shiffrin has been more successful at worlds than at the Olympics and even on the World Cup. She has 11 medals in 13 world championships races dating to her 2013 debut, including making the podium in each of her last 10 events.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

She enters worlds one shy of the modern, post-World War II individual records for total medals (Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt won 12) and gold medals (Austrian Toni Sailer, Frenchwoman Marielle Goitschel and Swede Anja Pärson won seven).

Worlds take place exactly one year after Shiffrin missed the medals in all of her Olympic races, but that’s not motivating her.

“If I learned anything last year, it’s that these big events, they can go amazing, and they can go terrible, and you’re going to survive no matter what,” she said after her most recent World Cup last Sunday. “So I kind of don’t care.”

Shiffrin ranks No. 1 in the world this season in the giant slalom (Feb. 16 at worlds) and slalom (Feb. 18).

This year’s combined is one run of super-G coupled with one run of slalom (rather than one downhill and one slalom), which also plays to her strengths. She won that event, with that format, at the last worlds in 2021. The combined isn’t contested on the World Cup, so it’s harder to project favorites.

Shiffrin is also a medal contender in the super-G (Feb. 8), despite starting just two of five World Cup super-Gs this season (winning one of them).

She is not planning to race the downhill (Feb. 11), which she often skips on the World Cup and has never contested at a worlds. Nor is she expected for the individual parallel (Feb. 15), a discipline she hasn’t raced in three years in part due to the strain it puts on her back with the format being several runs for the medalists.

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Lucas Braathen, world’s top male slalom skier, in doubt for world championships

Lucas Braathen
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Norway’s Lucas Braathen, the world’s top male slalom skier this season, is doubtful to compete in the world championships slalom on Feb. 19 after appendix surgery on Tuesday.

“It’s been a tough couple of days fighting after surprisingly finding out about quite an intense infection on my appendix,” Braathen, a 22-year-old soccer convert with a Brazilian mom, posted on social media. “I’ve been through surgery and I’m blessed that it went successfully.”

The Norway Alpine skiing team doctor said Braathen’s recovery will take a few weeks, but there is a small possibility he can make it back for the world championships slalom, which is on the final day of the two-week competition.

Braathen has two slalom wins and one giant slalom win this World Cup season. He will miss Saturday’s slalom in Chamonix, France, the last race before worlds. Countryman Henrik Kristoffersen and Swiss Daniel Yule can overtake him atop the World Cup slalom standings in Chamonix.

Braathen entered last year’s Olympics as the World Cup slalom leader and skied out in the first run at the Games.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

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