Utah NBDL owner apologizes for Jordan hoax
OREM, Utah (AP) – An NBA Development League team owner is apologizing for misleading fans who thought Michael Jordan would play in a charity game at the Utah Flash’s home opener.
Flash owner Brandt Andersen acknowledged sending a Jordan lookalike around town Monday, when supposed “Jordan” sightings and an Internet video of the impostor eating at a local restaurant created buzz that Jordan really was in town. More than 7,500 fans showed up hoping to see Jordan play 1-on-1 against former Utah Jazz guard Bryon Russell at halftime.
The Flash had been pitching the Jordan-Russell rematch since September despite never hearing from Jordan after Andersen issued the first challenge.
Andersen maintained he held out hope that Jordan would agree to be part of Monday’s promotion.
“This was done in fun,” Andersen wrote on his blog after the game. “If you did not see it as fun or you feel we went over the top I am sorry.”
Andersen that he had always planned to send out a lookalike, complete with bodyguards, into the community.
“We wanted to test the strength and effectiveness of viral media by putting him out in Provo with bodyguards, and some hype,” he said. “I always assumed it would be uncovered very quickly that it was a hoax.”
Fans caught on when the impostor trotted to the court at halftime. They started booing, then leaving.
Andersen had offered a $100,000 to the charity of the winner’s choice if he could get Jordan and Russell to play a game of 21.
Jordan’s jumper over Russell in Game 6 of the 1998 NBA finals gave the Chicago Bulls a 4-2 series win over Utah. Jazz fans still insist Jordan pushed off Russell.
During Jordan’s Hall of Fame speech, he said he was motivated by Russell’s trash talk toward him during his first retirement.
As part of his apology, Andersen is offering tickets for a future Flash game for fans with tickets from Monday night’s game.