By Nikos Varlas/ email@example.com
PARIS – Michael Jordan returned to the French capital and to the gym, where he played back in 1997 in the McDonalds Open tournament against Olympiacos, and the mood was light before the NBA Paris Game 2020.
“I was here 23 years ago for the McDonalds Open, and it’s great to be back again for an NBA game”, said Jordan.
With European media packing the room, Jordan was asked for a comment about LeBron James’ achievement. “Is he playing?” joked his Airness before giving his answer.
“I just think we played in different eras. He’s an unbelievable player. He’s one of the best players in the world, if not the best player in the world. I know it’s a natural tendency to compare eras to eras, and it’s going to continue to happen. I’m a fan of his. I love watching him play. But as you can see, our league is starting to expand with very talented players. I think he’s made his mark. He will continue to do so over a period of time, but when you start the comparisons, I think it is what it is. It’s just a stand-up measurement, and I take it with a grain of salt. He’s a heck of a basketball player without a doubt”.
As for his Top5 European players, Jordan smiled: “Toni Kukoc is number one, everyone knows why. [Drazen] Petrovic, [Arvydas] Sabonis — can I get back to you on that one? That’s a lot to go through. I’ve got to go through the whole list of great NBA players. I mean, any of the guys that come from Europe, they all made their mark on the NBA, and to try to put one above the other, it takes a little bit more time than a press conference. I may give you that later if you don’t mind.”
However, he loves Paris and Europe: “We’re two of the 30 teams. We’re very happy to be here. I imagine there are 28 teams that would love to do the same. So whenever the league comes to us and invites us, it’s great for our culture. It’s great for the kids to understand and see a different country, for us to bond as a unit. So I think every team welcomes the opportunity to represent the NBA, wherever they ask us to go”.
On the other hand, Michael Jordan doesn’t speak French and Lasry in his opening comment took advantage of that, using the language of the host city of the game: “I’m going to say this in French because Michael won’t understand it, but we’re going to win tonight.”