Olympic

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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Peter Sagan cleared over Tour de France disqualification

AP
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PARIS (AP) — The UCI ruled Tuesday that Peter Sagan did not intentionally elbow Mark Cavendish during a sprint finish at the Tour de France in a crash that led to the Slovak rider’s disqualification.

The governing body of cycling said in a statement that it has ended its legal dispute with the three-time world champion, a few hours before a scheduled hearing at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Sagan was sent home from the three-week race after clashing with his British rival during the fourth stage (video here). The incident forced Cavendish to abandon with a broken shoulder.

Sagan’s Bora-Hansgrohe team immediately appealed the race jury’s decision to allow its rider to finish the race but the request was denied by CAS.

“Having considered the materials submitted in the CAS proceedings, including video footage that was not available at the time when the race jury had disqualified Peter Sagan, the parties agreed that the crash was an unfortunate and unintentional race incident,” the UCI said.

UCI president David Lappartient said lessons will be drawn from the case and wants a “support commissaire” to assist race jury members “with special video expertise” at the main events of the UCI World Tour from next season.

“The past is already forgotten. It’s all about improving our sport in the future,” Sagan said. “I am happy that my case will lead to positive developments, because it is important for our sport to make fair and comprehensible decisions, even if emotions are sometimes heated up.”

Sagan’s explanation for extending his right elbow into Cavendish’s path was that he was just trying to stay upright.

The crash occurred about 50 meters from the end of the stage and Cavendish slammed into the barriers along the road, with two other riders plowing over the British sprint specialist, a winner of 30 Tour stages.

Cavendish said at the time his rival’s move didn’t appear malicious.

“It has always been our goal to make clear that Peter had not caused Mark Cavendish’s fall. This was Peter’s position from Day 1,” Bora-Hansgrohe manager Ralph Denk said. “No one wants riders to fall or get hurt but the incident in Vittel was a race accident as can happen in the course of a sprint.”

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Elizabeth Beisel, after DQ, makes one more world team before retirement

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Elizabeth Beisel swam at her first world championships in 2007 at age 14. She’s expected to make this year’s world championships her last at age 24.

The three-time Olympian made her sixth straight world team by finishing second in the 400m individual medley at the USA Swimming Nationals, part of the TeamUSA Summer Champions Series, presented by Comcast.

Beisel actually touched the wall third, 4.69 seconds behind winner Leah Smith. She was upgraded to second — and the final world team berth — after runner-up Ella Eastin was disqualified for an illegal turn.

“Since [Beisel] was about 12 or 13, she’s been the top of USA Swimming,” Smith said on Universal HD. “I’m sad that this is her last year of swimming.”

Beisel did not dive into retirement talk Thursday but said she’s “nearing the end” and that her Speedo contract is up in December.

SWIM NATIONALS: Broadcast Schedule | Event Schedule/Results

Beisel, who made the team on just two months of training after a post-Rio break, regretted qualifying via DQ and said she urged Eastin to appeal.

“It’s weird for me to say that I am going to Budapest … the circumstances couldn’t be worse,” Beisel said on USA Swimming’s Deck Pass Live. “After the race [but before the DQ], I was looking at Leah, I was looking at Ella, and I was like, you guys are the future. I’m handing you the 400m IM baton.”

Beisel learned of the DQ first by looking at the scoreboard. Still in the pool, she told Eastin, a rising Stanford junior who had thought she made her first world team.

“You just see how elated she is,” Beisel said, “and you go from cloud nine to rock bottom in three seconds.”

Eastin’s last shot to make the world team comes in the 200m individual medley Saturday. She is ranked third in the U.S. this year in the event.

In other races Thursday, Olympians Kelsi Worrell and Caeleb Dressel won the 100m butterflies. Olympic silver medalist Chase Kalisz took the men’s 400m IM in 4:06.99, the fastest time in the world this year.

Kalisz is going to his third straight worlds, while Beisel is the only American swimmer to qualify for every major international meet since 2006.

She essentially took nine months off from competition after the Rio Olympics, traveling the world with eight-time Olympic medalist Allison Schmitt, who is believed to be retired.

“Now, at my age, I know what I can mentally and physically handle, and I’m not going to overdo it,” Beisel said on Deck Pass on Tuesday. “I know I’m not going to make the team in certain events, so I’m putting all my eggs in one basket this week [the 400m IM] with hopes that it works out. I’m what they call a one-hit wonder these days.”

Beisel was the youngest member of the U.S. team at the 2006 Pan Pacific Championships (qualifying as a 13-year-old), 2007 World Championships and 2008 Olympics.

She earned her first world medal in 2009, then the world 400m IM title in 2011.

Both of her Olympic medals came in London, where she led the 400m IM by .81 of a second after 300 meters. But then Chinese 16-year-old Ye Shiwen went 1.77 seconds faster than Beisel on the first 50 meters of freestyle and ended up beating the American by 2.84 seconds, taking 1.02 off the world record.

Plenty of scrutiny was placed on Ye, the 2011 World 200m IM champion who chopped more than five seconds off her 400m IM personal best in London. But Beisel was not outwardly skeptical of Ye, who since London has not swum within two seconds of her since-broken world record.

“She had the race of her life,” Beisel said minutes after the London 400m IM. “Congratulations to her a million times over. It’s definitely hard getting second, but I can’t complain at all.“

Beisel later took bronze in the London 200m backstroke, sharing the podium with Missy Franklin.

In 2016, Beisel made the Olympic team by finishing second in the 400m IM at trials and then placed sixth in Rio.

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