This is the tenth in a series of examinations of basketball-related legends and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of all the previous basketball legends.
BASKETBALL LEGEND: Los Angeles Clippers guard Eric Gordon played Michael Jordan’s son in the film Space Jam.
Michael Jordan’s youngest son, Marcus, made the wrong kind of headlines when the college sophomore called out Kobe Bryant on Twitter in the middle of the seventh game of the NBA Finals (a game Bryant’s team, the Los Angeles Lakers, won) as not being worthy of being compared to Marcus’ father. The younger Jordan is currently playing basketball for University of Central Florida. Before Florida, Jordan graduated from Whitney Young, a prestigious public school in Chicago. Jordan only attended Whitney Young his last two years of high school. His first two years he spent attending the private school, Loyola Academy, along with his older brother, Jeffrey. The two played together during the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons and led Loyola to a pair of conference championships. In February of 2007, the Jordan brothers faced off against North Central High School (from Indianapolis, Indiana). North Central’s star player, guard Eric Gordon, exploded for 43 points, 5 rebounds, 4 steals and 3 assists. This is noteworthy because an Eric Gordon PORTRAYED Marcus Jordan in Michael Jordan’s hit 1996 film, Space Jam!
But is it the SAME Eric Gordon who now plays for the Los Angeles Clippers?
MY answer is no.
First off, some details on Space Jam. Filmed and released in 1996, the movie involves Michael Jordan teaming up with Bugs Bunny to stop some evil cartoon bad guys through the power of basketball. All of Jordan’s three children, as well as his then-wife, Juanita, are characters in the movie, but none of them are played by themselves. Theresa Randle plays Juanita, Manner Washington plays Jeffrey, Penny Bae Bridges plays Jordan’s daughter, Jasmine, and, sure enough, Eric Gordon plays Marcus Jordan.
Sadly for us, the Gordon in the movie has not done any films since, so we cannot verify that it is not the basketball-playing Gordon simply by noting that this Gordon is currently starring in a sitcom or a film. His IMDB profile page suggests that the Gordon in the film was born in 1989, but they also add “circa,” and even if they did not, IMDB is user-generated so the information posted there is not always correct. So the fact that Eric Gordon (from here on out I’ll refer to the NBA player as Eric Gordon, Jr. as that’s what his full name is) was born in December of 1988 and the actor in the film was allegedly born “circa 1989″ does not really tell us anything.
However, in terms of the doubtfulness of the story…
One, the Marcus characters does not really do any basketball playing in the film, so it is highly doubtful that they were looking for a kid with basketball abilities (I also don’t even think Gordon Jr. looks like the actor in the film, but I cannot say that I have seen many pictures of Gordon Jr. as an 8-year old – here is a picture of the actor next to a high school shot of Gordon Jr., though)…
Two, besides a few scenes filmed in the United Center, Space Jam was filmed in California. Eric Gordon, Jr. was born and raised in Indiana. The odds of a movie filming in California (including pretty much all of the scenes involving the kids) hiring a child actor from Indiana for such a small role are very slim.
Three, the coverage of the aforementioned game between Gordon Jr.’s team and the Jordan brothers was significant. It was aired nationally (a relative rarity for high school basketball games not involving Lebron James). And in all of the TV and newspaper coverage, no one noted that Gordon , Jr. would be playing against the man whose son he played in a movie. Does anyone believe that that would seriously never come up? The story did not come up until Gordon, Jr. was attending Indiana University, at which point it began showing up everywhere to the point where it is now pretty much all over the internet as “true.”
But the last reason, and the most important of all, that the story is false is that Gordon, Jr. has been asked this in interviews many times, and every time it comes up, he denies it. Here he is denying it in an interview soon after being drafted by the Clippers. He has even denied it without specifically denying it (which is to say that he has spoken in interviews about the two times that he met Michael Jordan, both times at All-Star Games during high school – so without specifically saying “I was not in Space Jam,” saying “I never met Michael Jordan until high school” would be an effective denial)!
When you put it together, when Gordon’s denials match the facts of the situation as we know them, it seems pretty clear that Eric Gordon, Jr. did not play Michael Jordan’s son in Space Jam. Last year’s All-Star “dunk-in” contest (which determined who between Gordon, Jr. and the Raptors’ DeMar DeRozan would move on to the official dunk contest – DeRozan won) should also have cleared things up – how could anyone who even acted as Michael Jordan’s son miss eight dunks during a dunk contest?
Thanks to Steve Mason & John Ireland of ESPN radio for the aforementioned interview with Gordon Jr. And thanks to Eric Gordon, Jr. for the information!
BASKETBALL LEGEND: A 2001 game between Michigan State and the University of Virginia was canceled due to a bizarre situation with the floor of the court.
Every year since 1999, the Atlantic Coast Conference and the Big Ten Conference have held a yearly basketball match called the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, where teams from the ACC are matched up against teams from the Big Ten and the conference who wins the most games is deemed the overall winner (the ACC won the first ten challenges).
In 2001, the Big Ten’s Michigan State Spartans were set against the ACC’s University of Virginia Cavaliers in the Cavaliers’ home court of Richmond Stadium…
The game was held on November 28, 2001.
The problem was that that day was an uncommonly warm day for November – over 70 degrees outside! As a result of the excessive heat and the ice below the floorboards at Richmond Stadium, condensation caused the floor to become covered with water.
With UVA up 31-28 in the second half, conditions were just too dangerous, so the game was canceled. I don’t even know how to describe it – rained out? iced out? slippery-ed out?
In the 2002 Challenge, the teams played each other again, only this time in Michigan, where the Spartans pulled out an 82-75 victory.
BASKETBALL LEGEND: There was an amusing ending to the first NBA game ever to be replayed – the so-called “Phantom Buzzer” game.
The “Phantom Buzzer” game has a special place in NBA history – it’s the first game ever to be successfully protested (there have been less than five successful protests in NBA history!).
What happened was that the Chicago Bulls were hosting the Atlanta Hawks on November 9, 1969.
The Bulls were coached by Dick Motta…
And the Hawks were coached by Richie Guerin…
Late in the game, the Bulls were down 124-122. They took a desperation shot at the basket and it rimmed out. However, Bulls center Tom Boerwinkle managed to tip it in with 1 second left on the game clock.
However, referee Bob Sakal waved the basket off, saying that the buzzer had sounded and the game was over.
Motta was a mixture of incensed and incredulous. No one else in the Stadium had heard the buzzer sound. The clock clearly showed 1 second left on it.
The timekeeper said he did not touch the clock. And in fact, to demonstrated, he showed that once he pressed the release on the clock (to let it go), it then buzzed after a second ran off of it.
Sakal was undeterred – the game was over, the Hawks won (the second referee for the game deferred to Sakal).
Naturally, the Bulls protested the game, and in the first time a protest ever actually WORKED, the league granted the Bulls’ protest.
The game was continued before the next time the Bulls and Hawks played. The score was tied and one second was left on the clock. The Hawks got the ball and, hilariously, after a second, the buzzer DIDN’T GO OFF!
Some mechanical screw-up saw the buzzer go silent as the last second ticked off of the clock.
Guerin, of course, decided to play it up and pretend that he was outraged, but of course, once the timekeeper showed that yes, the second DID tick off, Guerin let it be.
The game went to overtime and the Hawks won the game, 142-137, but at least the Bulls lost fair and square!
But how hilarious is it that the buzzer didn’t work during the replay?!
Okay, that’s it for this week!
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org