As much as The Last Dance might teach us things we never knew about the NBA and the ‘90s Chicago Bulls, there will be some questions that remain unanswered. One being, why wasn’t Isiah Thomas on the 1992 U.S. Olympic men’s basketball Dream Team? After attempting to answer the question, ESPN’s Michael Wilbon issued an apology to Isiah Monday night.
For decades, Isiah’s absence from the Dream Team was attributed to his poor relationship with Michael Jordan. But during The Last Dance, Jordan denied it was his decision, without denying that he didn’t want Isiah on the team.
“You want to attribute it to me, go ahead and be my guest,” Jordan said. “But it wasn’t me.”
Jordan did say that adding Isiah would have changed the feel of the team.
“The Dream Team, based on the environment and the camaraderie that happened on that team, it was the best harmony,” Jordan added. “Would Isiah have made a different feeling on that team? Yes.”
During the documentary, Wilbon didn’t solely blame Jordan for the decision, instead crediting a group of players for keeping Isiah off the Dream Team. Wilbon said it was half the team that didn’t want to play with the Pistons point guard, specifically calling out Magic Johnson, Scottie Pippen and Larry Bird.
Magic didn’t want all of the blame, but did add “there was four or five guys who just had problems with him,” meaning Isiah.
During an appearance with Rachel Nichols on The Jump Monday afternoon, Wilbon furthered the point by saying it was more like nine of the 12 players that didn’t want to spend their summer in Barcelona with Isiah.
“I’m gonna say nine of those guys just were not in favor of hanging out with Isiah Thomas at that time, and that’s what that summer was [Rachel], it was a big hangout. It was like summer camp,” Wilbon explained. “They knew who they wanted to spend the summer with, and they knew who they didn’t want to spend the summer with.
“Hanging that on Michael Jordan is just inaccurate … That group of people, I’m going to say nine out of 12, they made it known to whomever that this wasn’t somebody they wanted in their summer camp.”
Hours later, Wilbon said he was “dead wrong” and went on Twitter to apologize to Isiah for stating nine players didn’t want him on the Dream Team.
Shortly after Wilbon’s tweet, Isiah accepted Wilbon’s apology, with a simple “thank you.”
Some have argued the reason the Hall-of-Fame point guard wasn’t selected to the team was due to being past his prime. But when the Dream Team roster was selected, the 30-year old Isiah was still averaging 37 effective minutes per game, and players like Johnson and Bird were selected for the team despite CLEARLY being past their respective primes. We might not know which players didn’t want Isiah to join them in Barcelona, but we also haven’t heard many guys step up and say they did want him on the team.
Brandon Contes is a former reporter for BSM, now working for Awful Announcing. You can find him on Twitter @BrandonContes or reach him by email at Brandon.Contes@gmail.com.
FOX Will Use Chris Fallica On Belmont Stakes Coverage
“While the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby remain at NBC, The Belmont Stakes is moving to FOX as part of the network’s deal with the New York Racing Association.”
The Bear will be more than just a college football presence when he moves to FOX. Chris Fallica wrapped his final duties for ESPN last week and is now headed to a new network and will tackle some new responsibilities.
Fallica’s new role at FOX will involve plenty of sports gambling content. Richard Deitsch of The Athletic reports that content will include horse racing.
“One Fox Sports source said look for him to appear on the Belmont Stakes coverage,” Deitsch wrote in his weekly media column.
Starting in 2023, horse racing’s Triple Crown will not be seen all in one place. While the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby remain at NBC, The Belmont Stakes is moving to FOX as part of the network’s deal with the New York Racing Association.
How the network intends to use Chris Fallica on the broadcast is not clear. Given that he is coming to the network to contribute to gambling conversations, it is likely he would either be making picks or at least reviewing odds right up to the start of the race.
NBCUniversal CEO Expects Disney To Buy Company’s Hulu Stake
“Shell noted that live sports coverage is helping make the stake in Hulu a luxury for NBCUniversal.”
The Walt Disney Company owns 67% of Hulu. The other 33% is owned by NBCUniversal. The latter company doesn’t expect that to be the case forever.
“It’s worth a lot of money,” NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said at an investor conference earlier this week, “and I think there’s no indication that anything else is going to happen than Disney writing us a big check.”
Hulu is primarily a platform for movies and television shows. It is a major part of Disney’s deal with the NHL though. The streaming giant is part of the package of 103 games that are exclusive to ESPN and ABC. Hulu is also a live TV provider for many. The company’s Hulu Plus Live TV package had over 4 million subscribers as of the summer of 2022.
Shell noted that live sports coverage is helping make the stake in Hulu a luxury for NBCUniversal. He credits sports and content migrated from Hulu as the reason Peacock has grown to 18 million paid subscriptions since September.
Deadline reports that if Disney does want to acquire NBCUniversal’s stake in Hulu, “the price could fluctuate but will be in the tens of billions of dollars.”
Greg Olsen Believes He and Kevin Burkhardt Can Handle Games ‘On Any Stage’
“Obviously, the bosses get paid a lot to make hard decisions. You have to obviously do what your bosses decide. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”
“If you’re asking me, I think Kevin and I have shown that we can handle a game on any stage – on any day. We just did it on Thanksgiving. We’ll do it again around Christmas. And obviously throughout the [NFL] Playoffs,” said Olsen. “So whatever decision they make. Obviously, the bosses get paid a lot to make hard decisions. You have to obviously do what your bosses decide. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.
“But as of now, I anticipate Kevin and I, the two of us, with Erin and Tom down on the sidelines, the four of us, broadcasting the Super Bowl in February in Arizona. Until I’m told otherwise, that’s how we’re proceeding.”
Olsen also told FOS he has negotiated a new contract with FOX Sports, but declined to share details. He is slated to be replaced on the top broadcast crew once Tom Brady ends his playing career. Brady will then begin a 10-year, $375 million contract to serve as the network’s top NFL game analyst and brand ambassador.