Culture of Hoops

Director’s cut: Michael Jordan’s NBA2K14 promo video


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In a recent promotional video for NBA2K14, Michael Jordan said that if he were somehow able to take part in a one-on-one tournament featuring the NBA’s all-time greats in their prime, he wouldn’t lose a game, “other than to Kobe Bryant, because he steals all of my moves.” It hardly qualifies as news that the notoriously cocky MJ thinks he could beat the NBA’s best—including LeBron James—in a game of one-on-one, but what you may not know is that this boast was only one small part of the footage captured during the 2K14 promo. Here are some of the highlights that didn’t make the cut.

12:30 p.m. EDT

After a production assistant’s offhand remark about the MLB playoffs, Jordan became visibly agitated, telling the interviewer to cut the take so he could address, “this assault on my character.”

“Everyone knows that if I’d focused on baseball instead of basketball, I would have been the best of all time,” said Jordan, rising from his seat. “Talk to Kirby Puckett. Talk to Kirby Puckett and ask him about that time I beat him in a home run derby before that game against the White Sox. 1994. May 8th. 6:15pm, Central. And four seconds. Ask him. He’s dead? Well, then ask his wife about that time I whooped her husband’s ass.”

12:45 p.m. EDT

Jordan returned from a bathroom break with a far-off look in his eyes. He asked for an additional few minutes to clear his head, striking up a conversation with the same production assistant he had just demanded call the late Puckett’s widow.

“Tell Tonya: Mike says hello. Seriously, tell her. Yeah, I know I’m intense. ‘Cause my big brother James was always so hard on me. Telling me that no matter how hard I tried to be the best, that he’d always be better. That I’d never be tough enough to make it in the Army. That Dad just pretended to like sports to make me feel good…. What was I talking about, again? Oh, right, if you don’t tell Tonya I said hi, I’ll know.”

12:53 p.m. EDT

The director had resumed filming and everything was going great. Jordan got a big laugh with the, “Kobe stole all my moves” line, when all of a sudden things started to tense up. Apparently one of the cameramen had not laughed hard enough at his remark.

“Oh, you think you’re some kind of comedy expert? I will make you laugh so hard that you will suffocate on your own guffaws! I’m the funniest dude that ever played this game. Metta World News? More like Metta World Snooze. That is lyrical wizardry of the most humorous sort. Fuck Lenny Bruce.”

1:02 p.m. EDT

Jordan was back on track and rolling. His O.J. Mayo story was exactly the kind of thing the camera crew had come here to get on tape. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, Michael began to trail off.

“No, James. I’m not playing Yahtzee with you again. You win every time. No more Yahtzee. Please, James. You’re the best. You win. No more Yahtzee …”

1:30 p.m. EDT

Everyone was pretty weirded out by that last outburst, so the director decided we should go to lunch. The caterers offered a nice spread of fruit, deli meats and dessert that featured an absolutely delicious sponge cake. After taking a bite, Jordan threw down his plate and demanded, “a knife, a Dixie cup and a microwave. I’m gonna show you people how to make a sponge cake.”

Jordan worked furiously on his culinary endeavor, his hands flying about in a cloud of flour and powdered sugar. After about five minutes his confection was complete, and I have to say, it was actually the best sponge cake I’ve ever eaten. Soft, light and savory, it was reminiscent of a dessert I once had at Momofuku Milk Bar. Jordan must have overheard my inner monologue, because he ran over to me, got right in my face and said, “David Chang stole this from me! This was my idea! Put me on ‘Chopped’ right now and I will destroy him!”

4:48 p.m. EDT

Everyone had left long ago, save for me and His Airness. The production crew had gotten everything they needed, and frankly, couldn’t wait to get out of there in light of Jordan’s repeated episodes. Me, I couldn’t bring myself to move. Sitting there, watching the greatest athlete of all time break down in tears as he recalled the transgressions of his older brother … I started to cry too.

That’s when Jordan took his head out of his hands and looked up at me, his face swollen with tears. I could barely make out what he was saying at that point, but it sounded like, “You call that crying?”

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