The Chicago Bulls have fired head coach Jim Boylen after two seasons in charge.

After working for the team as an associate head coach, Boylen was appointed to the top job in Chicago in December 2018, though he was not able to turn around the franchise's fortunes.

The Bulls posted a 39-84 record during his tenure, failing to make the playoffs. They were 22-43 when the current campaign was suspended, meaning they missed out on being involved in Orlando when play eventually resumed in late July.

Arturas Karnisovas, executive vice president of basketball operations, confirmed Boylen had been relieved of his duties on Friday, with the search to find his replacement beginning immediately.

"After doing a comprehensive evaluation and giving the process the time it deserved, I ultimately decided that a fresh approach and evolution in leadership was necessary," Karnisovas said in a statement.

"This was a very difficult decision, but it is time for our franchise to take that next step as we move in a new direction and era of Chicago Bulls basketball.

"Jim is a great human being that cares deeply about this organisation and the game of basketball. I want to thank him for his professionalism and commitment to the franchise."

As well as serving as head coach at the University of Utah between 2007 and 2011, Boylen has also worked as an assistant at several NBA teams, including being part of the Houston Rockets when they won successive NBA titles in 1994 and 1995.

The 55-year-old was also part of the championship-winning staff at the San Antonio Spurs in 2014.

Cristiano Ronaldo is football's equivalent to basketball legend Michael Jordan, according to Manchester United midfielder Jesse Lingard.

NBA icon Jordan won six championships across two stints with the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s and was crowned MVP on five occasions.

By comparison, five-time Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo has clinched seven league titles in three different countries, most recently helping Juventus to back-to-back Scudettos.

And Lingard, who was part of United's academy during Ronaldo's time at Old Trafford, believes the Portugal international is football's answer to Jordan.

"I have to say Cristiano Ronaldo," he told Sky Sports when asked to pick a footballer who can be likened to Jordan.

"Everything he has achieved in his career. He has been at plenty of clubs and won many trophies. I believe he is a real icon of football, the Michael Jordan of football."

Lingard never played in the same side as Ronaldo in a competitive game but was on opposing sides to the forward in United's 2-1 Champions League win against Juve last season.

But the England international insists the former Real Madrid superstar has not posed him too many problems in the years since he left United.

"I have played against him a few times. Did he give me trouble? No, he wasn't too bad, to be fair," he said. 

"There was one game in pre-season where he came on and you could see the skills and the qualities that he brought.

"When he first came to Manchester United, I was 11 or 12. We did a skills DVD and it was him teaching us skills which was good. 

"That was the first time I had seen him. He was young and skinny when he came to the club."

Michael Jordan raced back on defense after a drive to the basket saw him bring the Chicago Bulls back to within a point of the Utah Jazz with 37 seconds remaining.

It was June 14, 1998, Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals and victory would see the Bulls clinch a historic second three-peat and Jordan get his sixth championship ring in what would be their 'Last Dance'.

Jordan's next pivotal play saw him steal the ball from Karl Malone in the post with 18 seconds left. He then carried the ball forward, crossed up Bryon Russell and made an iconic mid-range jumper to put Phil Jackson's team in front.

When John Stockton failed to make a three-pointer at the buzzer, history was made.

But how do Jordan's performances, and those of his team-mates, in the 1997-98 season compare to players in the modern era?

That is what Stats Perform's AI analysts attempted to find out.

By looking at player statistics compared to the league averages rather than raw values, they developed a similarity score metric.

It uses a host of era-adjusted per-30-minute stats and more advanced rate metrics, and calculates the Euclidean distances between the seasons of each of the 1997-98 Bulls and every other player since the start of 2010-11.

From those results, a relative similarity percentage can be calculated i.e. the player since 2010-11 with the greatest similarity to one of the 1997-98 Bulls would score closest to 100 per cent.

By looking at player seasons since the start of 2017-18, we can see who in the NBA's modern era is the nearest equivalent to Jordan and the rest of the Bulls in that historic season.

Michael Jordan

Jordan's closest contemporary is Kawhi Leonard, with the Los Angeles Clippers star's 2019-20 season registering a relative similarity percentage of 28.7.

Leonard's NBA championship-winning campaign with the Toronto Raptors in 2018-19 is a close second (26.7 per cent), while Bradley Beal this season ranks third at 24 per cent.

DeMar DeRozan rounds out the top five, though his 2018-19 output had just 16.5 per cent relative similarity. His efforts the year prior produced a score of 23.7 per cent, close to Beal.

When looking at all players since 2010, though, Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant in 2010-11 is the top comparison at 46.8 per cent.

Bryant played all 82 games that year but was unable to emulate Jordan and lead the Lakers to a second three-peat under Jackson, with the Dallas Mavericks sweeping them in the Western Conference semi-finals.

 

Dennis Rodman

It is tough to find a modern comparison for what Rodman did with the Bulls in 1997-98.

Marcin Gortat's 2018-19 season with the Clippers is the nearest but has a relative similarity percentage of just 9.7, with Noah Vonleh in 2017-18 a close second at 9.3. Vonleh's past two seasons rank fifth and fourth, behind Ed Davis this term at 7.4 per cent.

When looking beyond the past three seasons, a player who made his name in Chicago comes in as Rodman's closest contemporary: Joakim Noah.

Noah was a two-time All-Star and the 2014 NBA Defensive Player of the Year during his time with the Bulls, but it is his production in the 2016-17 season – his first with the New York Knicks – that compares best, though his relative similarity percentage is still just 16.3.

 

Scottie Pippen

After electing to delay having surgery on his foot so he could enjoy the offseason as his contract dispute with the Bulls continued, Pippen missed almost half of the 1997-98 regular season.

Tyreke Evans in 2018-19, a season that ended with him being kicked out of the league for two years for violating the NBA's anti-drug programme, provides the nearest resemblance of Pippen's performances during the Last Dance with a relative similarity score of 64.7 per cent.

Evans (52.4 per cent) also ranks second thanks to his 2017-18 season, ahead of Caris LeVert of the Brooklyn Nets. LeVert has a score of 50.3 per cent for this season and 48 per cent for 2018-19.

When looking at all players since 2010, J.R. Smith features highly. His 2012-13 campaign has a relative similarity score of 53.7 per cent, which is one of three entries for him in the top six.

 

Luc Longley

Domantas Sabonis helped the Indiana Pacers reach the playoffs in 2017-18, and with a relative similarity mark of 45.4 per cent he has the nearest modern comparison to Longley.

There is little to separate Jordan Mickey (2017-18) and Zach Collins (2018-19) in second and third, with the former's 43.8 just beating the latter's 43.

When widening the scope to include all player seasons since 2010-11, however, two players dominate the top 10: Spencer Hawes and Jason Smith.

Hawes' second year with the Philadelphia 76ers (2011-12) takes first place with a relative similarity percentage of 63.6, while his last season with the Charlotte Hornets (2016-17) is second at 59.1.

Smith takes up the next four places (2015-16, 2012-13, 2014-15 and 2011-12 respectively) and also eighth, which is sandwiched by Hawes in 2010-11 and 2012-13.

The top eight seasons all have a relative similarity score in excess of 50 per cent.

 

Ron Harper

Over the past three seasons, Garrett Temple is the closest you can get to Harper.

Temple's output with the Nets this year most closely corresponds to Harper at 60.1 per cent relative similarity.

His two prior seasons also scored within 0.5 per cent of that mark, with Trevor Ariza rounding out the top five on 56.1 per cent for both this season and 2018-19.

Since the start of the last decade, though, Damien Wilkins in 2010-11 is the nearest comparison at 68.3 per cent.

 

Toni Kukoc

Gordon Hayward with the Boston Celtics this season comes in as the top modern comparison for Kukoc at 65.2 per cent.

MarShon Brooks in 2018-19 has a relative similarity of 62 per cent, while Bogdan Bogdanovic this year is at 59.8 per cent.

Chandler Parsons in 2017-18 is fourth on the list, and he certainly has a lot in common with the Croatian when you look back further.

Parsons provides the top four comparisons to Kukoc since 2010-11 and his efforts in the 2014-15 season have a relative similarity percentage of 99.9, which is the nearest equivalent of all data analysed.

 

Steve Kerr

Kerr may have moulded Stephen Curry into a two-time MVP and three-time NBA champion, but the Golden State Warriors star's brother Seth Curry is his closest comparison.

Seth Curry's performances for the Mavericks this season registered a 50.1 per cent relative similarity score, while his 2018-19 campaign with the Portland Trail Blazers was second at 44.4.

Reggie Bullock (2017-18), Langston Galloway (2019-20) and Courtney Lee (2017-18) also feature in the top five from the past three years.

 

What about the others?

Bill Wennington

Since 2017: Jon Leuer in 2018-19 (37.9 per cent)
Since 2010: Jon Leuer in 2018-19 (37.9 per cent)

David Vaughan

Since 2017: Domantas Sabonis in 2017-18 (70.8 per cent)
Since 2010: Thomas Robinson in 2013-14 (88.4 per cent)

Dickey Simpkins

Since 2017: Caleb Swanigan in 2019-20 (31.8 per cent)
Since 2010: Samardo Samuels in 2011-12 (45.4 per cent)

Jason Caffey

Since 2017: Domantas Sabonis in 2017-18 (62.9 per cent)
Since 2010: Samardo Samuels in 2011-12 (78.6 per cent)

Joe Kleine

Since 2017: Wilson Chandler in 2019-20 (40.9 per cent)
Since 2010: Juwan Howard in 2010-11 (40.9 per cent)

Jud Buechler

Since 2017: Danny Green in 2019-20 (59.1 per cent)
Since 2010: Wesley Johnson in 2013-14 (56.9 per cent)

Randy Brown

Since 2017: Shaquille Harrison in 2018-19 (51.1 per cent)
Since 2010: Ronnie Price in 2010-11 (52.8 per cent)

Scott Burrell

Since 2017: Sterling Brown in 2017-18 (68 per cent)
Since 2010: Wesley Johnson in 2015-16 (82.8 per cent)

June 12 was a day when Michael Jordan finally became an NBA champion, while the Los Angeles Lakers and the Golden State Warriors also enjoyed Finals celebrations.

Jordan became widely regarded as the greatest player of all time but had to endure a couple of heartbreaks before finally tasting glory with the Chicago Bulls in 1991.

Shaquille O'Neal made history with the Lakers on this day 18 years ago, while you only have to go back to 2017 for Kevin Durant's moment to shine.

The St. Louis Blues also had reason to celebrate 12 months ago as their long wait for Stanley Cup glory came to an end.


1991 - MJ and the Bulls earn first of six

Having been beaten twice in the Eastern Conference Finals by the Detroit Pistons, the Chicago Bulls finally bested their rivals in the 1990-91 playoffs.

That led to a Finals series with the LA Lakers and Jordan was not about to miss his opportunity.

The Bulls wrapped it up in five with Jordan the fulcrum of their success en route to being named Finals MVP.

He scored 30 points and Scottie Pippen put up 32 as the Bulls defeated the Lakers 108-101 to win their first NBA title on this day. They would go on win six in eight years in one of sport's greatest dynasties.


2002 – 'Get ready for the Shaq attack!' Lakers rout Nets

It was a night of history for Shaq and Phil Jackson as the Lakers completed a 4-0 series of sweep of the New Jersey Nets in the NBA Finals.

Finals MVP Shaq put up 34 points in the 113-107 victory in New Jersey as the Lakers became the fifth team to win at least three straight NBA Championships.

With 145 points in the series, Shaq became the highest scorer in a four-game Finals, beating the 131 of Hakeem Olajuwon, which he achieved in 1995 for the Houston Rockets against O'Neal's Orlando Magic.

For legendary coach Jackson, it represented a ninth NBA title as a coach - levelling Red Auerbach's benchmark.


2017: Durant the Golden boy as James' Cavs beats

Just a year earlier, LeBron James had inspired the Cleveland Cavaliers to the 2016 NBA championship from a 3-1 deficit to avenge their loss to the Golden State Warriors the season before.

But in the third year of their fourth straight battle in the NBA Finals, it was the Warriors who celebrated a 4-1 series triumph.

Kevin Durant, signed as a free agent at the start of the 2016-17 season, was named Finals MVP after averaging 35.2 points, including putting up 39 in Game 5.

James had 41 but was unable to prevent the Cavs slipping to a 129-120 loss.


2019: St Louis finally end Stanley Cup Blues

In a back-and-forth Stanley Cup Finals series, it all came down to Game Seven between the St. Louis Blues and the Boston Bruins.

But the Boston fans were left disappointed at TD Garden as St. Louis ran out 4-1 victors.

It marked the Blues' first Stanley Cup triumph in their 51st season as a franchise.

June 7, 2009 was the date Roger Federer finally reigned at Roland Garros.

The Swiss completed his grand slam collection when beating Robin Soderling in the French Open final and, in doing so, equalled a record held by Pete Sampras.

This was also the date when 'The Last Dance' Chicago Bulls shut down the Utah Jazz in emphatic fashion in 1998.

Take a look at events that previously happened on this date through the years.

 

1996 - Chavez's century ends in defeat

Julio Cesar Chavez and Oscar De La Hoya were both multi-weight world champions during their careers and a fight between the two was highly anticipated in 1996.

De La Hoya, who owned a 21-0 record heading into the bout, was 10 years younger and facing an opponent who was fighting for the 100th time, Chavez having won 97 of the previous 99.

However, the light-welterweight contest was short-lived, falling way short of the hype as Chavez suffered a serious cut in the opening round and eventually succumbed to a barrage in the fourth, unable to continue after De La Hoya's left hook broke his nose.

Chavez would fight for another seven years, however, finishing with a 107-6-2 record, while De La Hoya retired in 2008 following losses to Floyd Mayweather Jr and Manny Pacquiao.

 

1998 - Jazz fail to hit the right notes as Bulls gain Finals advantage

The series was finely poised at 1-1 when the Bulls and Jazz tipped off in Game 3 of the 1998 NBA Finals.

What followed was the most dominant victory in Finals history as the Bulls won by 42 points, 96-54, as Utah scored what was at the time the lowest total in an NBA game since the inception of the shot clock.

Despite Karl Malone's 22 points, the Jazz went 13-of-59 from the floor as Dennis Rodman, Scottie Pippen and the rest of Chicago's defense delivered a performance that swung the series in their favour.

Chicago would go on to win the Finals 4-2, delivering a second three-peat to end a glorious run in the Windy City for Michael Jordan and Phil Jackson.

2009 - Finally for Federer

Having already triumphed at the other three slams, a French Open title had evaded Federer, thanks mainly due to the presence of Rafael Nadal.

However, in 2009 the Spaniard was suddenly out of the picture after a shock fourth-round loss to Soderling, who would go on to set up a final against Federer.

The showdown proved a mismatch; Federer eased to a 6-1 7-6 (7-1) 6-4 triumph in under two hours to win his 14th grand slam title.

In doing so he equalled Sampras' all-time record, with Federer eclipsing the American's haul with victory at Wimbledon later that year when he overcame Andy Roddick in an epic encounter.

The Chicago Bulls will not make a decision anytime soon about head coach Jim Boylen's future with the franchise. 

Arturas Karnisovas, the Bulls' new executive vice president of basketball operations, began Saturday's conference call with reporters by issuing a statement on the divisive coach. 

"I know that you are anxious for me to comment definitively on our future of the Chicago Bulls. I understand that anticipation," Karnisovas said. 

"That said, I take pride in being deliberate and thoughtful in my decision-making and take the weight of my decisions seriously. 

"I'm not inclined to make evaluations prematurely to satisfy our excitement to move this team forward."

Karnisovas was hired in April – more than a month after the NBA season was paused due to the coronavirus outbreak – and he has yet to see his team play since joining Chicago. 

One reason for the patient approach, he said, was the NBA's 22-team plan for concluding the season, which excludes the Bulls. 

"We want to spend time internally to assure that we are thorough in our appraisals," Karnisovas said. 

"Our intention was to return to play at some point and have the opportunity to make informed decisions. There are several unprecedented circumstances beyond our control. 

"We have been limited in certain obvious ways, so our objective is to use this time in innovative ways to create opportunities for our players and coaches to encourage development."

Boylen took over as head coach 24 games into the 2018-19 season after the dismissal of Fred Hoiberg, but the Bulls are just 39-84 under Boylen. 

Chicago finished this season 22-43 – 11th in the Eastern Conference – and ranked 26th in the NBA in scoring at 106.8 points per game. 

"Coaching in the league is very difficult. To make a decision about coaching is really hard. It's probably the hardest thing for executives," Karnisovas said. 

"So I look at a lot of aspects – I've had numerous conversations. 

"That said, I'd like to be in a building, to be in practices, to be around the coaching staff in meetings. We're looking forward to getting in the video room together, analyse the games, to watch games together."

Karnisovas, previously the general manager of the Denver Nuggets, has already replaced Chicago's former top executives Gar Forman and John Paxson. 

Marc Eversley will take over as the team's new general manager, while assistant general manager J.J. Polk and vice president of player personnel Pat Connelly were also added this offseason. 

Zach LaVine is upset that the Chicago Bulls will not be part of the 22-team tournament that will restart the NBA season.

The 2019-20 campaign has been on hold since March because of the coronavirus pandemic, but on Thursday plans to recommence the league in Florida next month were approved.

However, only 22 teams will head to Orlando - the 16 teams currently occupying the playoff spots and the six that are within eight games of the eighth seeds in each conference.

Chicago, who had a 22-43 record when the season was halted, missed the cut-off by two games, much to LaVine's frustration.

"It sucks," he told reporters.

"You've got to understand it. It's a weird time, especially with everything that's going on right now, but it's upsetting too.

"We weren't even good enough to get to the play-in game, so it's upsetting and it just shows that we've got to do a lot of things differently to get ourselves that recognition to get to that spot."

With the 2020-21 season not due to start until December, players like LaVine will have gone nine months without playing a competitive game.

However, those whose teams are still alive this season will have to live at a campus and remain on site for all practices and games under the NBA's proposals.

That scenario brings its own concerns, according to LaVine's team-mate Thaddeus Young.

"For me, it's two-fold. Obviously, I wanted to play. I wanted to be a part of it," he said.

"But another side of me was worried about being away from my family or if they were to even come down. Just me being around everybody in general, playing basketball and then going back to my family and not knowing if I contracted the virus. Or not knowing if my family contracted the virus.

"As I said before, I have two young kids and I have a wife and my major concern is their health.

"Me, personally, I think I can fight it off, but I don't know if my kids would be able to do that. I don't know if my wife would be able to do that. So I don't want to put them in harm's way."

Rafael Nadal has celebrated plenty of times on Court Philippe Chatrier, but the jubilation he felt on June 5, 2005 is likely to live with him forever.

It was on this day 15 years ago when 'The King of Clay' won the first of his, to date, record 12 French Open titles.

Novak Djokovic and Francesca Schiavone were also crowned champions on June 5 in years gone by, while Michael Jordan produced one of the shots of his career in the 1991 NBA Finals.

Here we take a look at the most memorable sports events to have occurred on June 5.

 

1991 - Mid-Air Jordan switches hands for stunning lay-up

At this point 29 years ago Jordan was still the nearly man; a two-time MVP who had yet to win a championship ring.

The Chicago Bulls had lost Game 1 of the 1991 NBA Finals to the Los Angeles Lakers too, but they would level the series at home with a convincing 107-86 victory in Game 2 as Jordan scored 33 points.

But his display that night is best remembered for a single shot in the third quarter. Jordan drove towards the basket ready for a right-handed dunk, only to switch the ball into his left hand in mid-air upon seeing Sam Perkins and somehow flip a shot up off the glass and through the net to astound those in Chicago Stadium.

The Bulls would go on to win the series 4-1, beginning a dynasty that would see them dominate the NBA for most of the next decade.

 

2005 - Nadal begins French Open dominance

At this point 15 years ago Nadal was still a promising teenager hoping to win his first grand slam.

However, he was considered the favourite in the final against Mariano Puerta, having won three clay-court tournaments in the build up to the French Open and, despite dropping the first set, he would emerge victorious 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 6-1 7-5.

Nadal has won all but three French Opens since, though on June 5, 2016, it was Djokovic lifting the trophy as he beat Andy Murray in four sets to complete a career grand slam.

 

2009 - England stunned in World Twenty20 opener

Eleven years ago England suffered one of their most humiliating losses in any format.

In the opening game of the second World Twenty20 tournament, the hosts were expected to encounter few difficulties against the Netherlands at Lord's.

With England, who failed to hit a single six, having made 162-5 first up after being restricted to 73 in the second half of their innings, it came down to the chasing side needing two off the final ball to clinch a famous victory.

And they got them in farcical fashion as Stuart Broad's overthrow allowed Edgar Schiferli to scamper through for a second, sealing an incredible four-wicket win for the Netherlands.

 

2010 - Schiavone makes grand slam history

Tennis fans had become accustomed to the sight of Nadal winning grand slams by 2010 when Schiavone became the first Italian woman to reach a major singles final.

The 17th seed was up against Australia's Sam Stosur – who had beaten Justine Henin and Serena Williams along the way – and it was Schiavone who came out on top 6-4 7-6 (7-2).

Schiavone not only became the first Italian woman to win a grand slam singles title, but she was also the second-lowest ranked woman to win at Roland Garros in the Open era.

Chicago Bulls legend Dennis Rodman seemingly made a comical gaffe in a personalised video for SPAL striker Andrea Petagna.

The Napoli-bound forward reportedly paid around $600 to receive a message from Rodman, who won three straight NBA titles with the Bulls playing alongside Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen between 1996 and 1998.

Rodman's success with one of the world's most famous sporting dynasties was the focus of the recent ESPN and Netflix docuseries 'The Last Dance', which may have been the prompt for Petagna to request a video.

So, there might have been a bit of a surprise when he was addressed as "honey" and told he may one day come up against Rodman's daughter Trinity on the pitch.

"Andrea, isn't it amazing?" Rodman said in the clip, which Petagna posted on Instagram alongside the caption 'I hope to meet you soon [Trinity Rodman], Keep going'.

"Dennis Rodman is calling you. Andrea, 'The Bulldozer', what does that mean? It means that you score a lot. 

"But I've got something for you right now, Andrea. I got a daughter named Trinity Rodman, she's the number one soccer player in the world right now.

"Come on, man. Look her up! One of these days you're going to face her and one of these days you're going to text me back and say, 'Dennis you know what? You're right, she's good, just like me. She's a bulldozer, but she's a Rodman'.

"Either way, honey, your friends really love you. Respect, respect, respect. Keep doing what you're doing."

Petagna later added to his Instagram story to show he had received a "Hey bro!!" from Rodman, who also won two NBA titles with the Detroit Pistons in 1989 and 1990.

One-cap Italy international Petagna agreed to join Napoli in January but is staying with SPAL until the end of the season. The 24-year-old has 11 goals in 25 Serie A appearances this term.

The debate over who is basketball's G.O.A.T has been reignited.

The release of 'The Last Dance' - ESPN's docuseries on the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls - has brought Michael Jordan's exploits back to the forefront of people's minds.

And the suspension of the current NBA season due to the coronavirus pandemic means current superstar LeBron James has, for the time being at least, been unable to respond on the court.

However, this week marks three years since James, then with the Cleveland Cavaliers, sunk a deep three-pointer in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals to pass Jordan and become the NBA's all-time playoff points leader.

Stats Perform has crunched the numbers on the two icons of the game to look at how they compare when the spotlight shines brightest.

 

PILING ON THE POINTS

That record-breaking shot from beyond the arc against the Boston Celtics moved James beyond Jordan's all-time haul of 5,987 points in his 212th game.

However, his boyhood hero's tally came in just 179 games, with Jordan having averaged a staggering 33.4 points per game, compared to James' 28.9.

There are still multiple postseason records Jordan holds too, including most points in a game (63 - which he accrued in the Bulls' incredible double-overtime loss to the Celtics in 1986) and consecutive games with at least 20 points (60).

Despite having seven-time All-Star Scottie Pippen also on the roster, Jordan was clearly the go-to guy for the Bulls on offense and he led them in scoring in 168 of his 179 playoff appearances.

James has led his teams in scoring (including ties) in an NBA-record 189 playoff games - out of 239 appearances - despite calling Dwyane Wade and Kyrie Irving team-mates at specific points.

 

JAMES: AN ALL-AROUND THREAT

While Jordan comes out on top in points per game, James has the edge in most other categories.

The current Los Angeles Lakers star averages more rebounds (8.9 to 6.4), assists (7.1 to 5.7) and blocks (0.97 to 0.88) per playoff game than Jordan, who does average more steals (2.10 to 1.75) - and it was robbing Karl Malone of the ball that famously helped MJ deliver championship number six 22 years ago.

James is, marginally, a more efficient postseason shooter, scoring from .491 of his attempts compared to Jordan's .487, though the two are neck and neck (.332) from three-pointers.

The all-around threat of James is perhaps best highlighted by the fact he has 23 playoff triple-doubles - second only to Magic Johnson's 30 - while Jordan made just two across his illustrious career.

 

COUNT THE RINGS

Of course, the ultimate goal for any successful team is to end the NBA Finals holding aloft the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy, something Jordan has done on six occasions, twice as many as James.

Jordan went 6-0 in Finals - and was named MVP of each series - while James has a 3-6 record - and three Finals MVP awards - across stints with the Cavaliers and Miami Heat.

The Bulls' success in the 1990s - when they twice three-peated - means Jordan won 66.5 per cent of the playoff games he appeared in, a number that James (currently 65.3 per cent) will surely soon eclipse with his Lakers team primed for a deep playoff run when this season resumes.

Would another three rings see James surpass Jordan in the eyes of many? For now, it remains a fascinating debate.

Lionel Messi could emulate Michael Jordan's 'Last Dance' by winning the 2022 World Cup with Argentina, midfielder Lucas Biglia says.

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner has mostly endured disappointment at international level since winning Olympic gold in 2008.

Messi was awarded the Golden Ball at the 2014 finals, when Argentina lost the final to Germany, before going on to lose back-to-back Copa America finals against Chile.

The Barcelona star will be 35 by the time of the next World Cup in Qatar, which is due to be held during November and December to avoid the harsh summer conditions.

Biglia played alongside Messi at senior international level for seven years until retiring after they were knocked out of the 2018 World Cup by eventual winners France.

The Milan midfielder believes Messi can still taste glory on the global stage, though, having recently enjoyed the Netflix documentary on Michael Jordan's memorable sixth and final NBA championship triumph with the Chicago Bulls in 1998.

"I finished The Last Dance the other day, it was excellent," Biglia told FM 94.7. "It got me thinking that, in a few years, hopefully we will be able to watch something similar with our own phenomenon.

"[We could] learn a load of things about his day-to-day. Because you see him train, you see him play but so many things happen on a day-to-day basis that you don't know about, as we see [with Jordan] in the series.

"The scene that I would like to see in the future is the one when Jordan is hugging the [NBA] trophy and crying. I would like to see that with Messi and the World Cup. That I would like to see. I know what it would mean for him and for the Argentine people."

Argentina's defeat in the 2016 Copa America final – the third time Messi has finished runner-up at the tournament – led to the Barca forward quitting international football for a time.

Biglia admits it has been tough to see Messi endure so much disappointment with his country given his overall success in the sport.

He added: "Why does a person have to suffer so much? In the last World Cup, to see how the elimination hit him, that's when you ask yourself, 'why?'. That stayed with me. Not just on the pitch, but off it.

"It hurts me to see him suffer so much and makes me ask myself why he has to suffer in that way. I pray to God that we can see him at the next World Cup in two years' time."

Jerry Sloan, an All-Star player who went on to become the most successful coach in Utah Jazz history, died on Friday following a long battle with Parkinson's disease at the age of 78. 
 
The Jazz announced Sloan's death from complications from Parkinson's disease and Lewy body dementia, which the Basketball Hall of Fame member revealed he was dealing with in 2016. 
 
Sloan coached the Jazz for 23 seasons before resigning during the 2010-11 season and ranks fourth in NBA history with 1,221 victories.

His 1,127 wins with Utah are the second-most of any coach with one franchise, trailing only San Antonio's Gregg Popovich.  
 
"Jerry Sloan will always be synonymous with the Utah Jazz. He will forever be a part of the Utah Jazz organization and we join his family, friends and fans in mourning his loss," the team said in a statement. 

"We are so thankful for what he accomplished here in Utah and the decades of dedication, loyalty and tenacity he brought to our franchise." 
 
Led by future Hall of Famers Karl Malone and John Stockton, Sloan's Utah teams were a model of consistency.

He guided the Jazz to playoff appearances for his first 15 seasons after being promoted to head coach following Frank Layden's resignation in December 1988. 

The Jazz won 50 or more games 13 times in his tenure, highlighted by back-to-back NBA Finals appearances in 1997 and 1998. 
 
Utah lost to the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls, the team Sloan spent the majority of his playing career with, in both of those Finals trips, with each series ending 4-2.

He also coached the Bulls for three seasons from before joining the Jazz organization as a scout in 1983. 
 
Sloan compiled a 1,127-682 regular-season record with Utah and amassed 96 more wins while leading the Jazz to the playoffs 19 times in total, with seven division titles. 

He was honored by the franchise in 2014 with a No. 1,223 banner, representing his combined win total with the Jazz, that currently hangs in the rafters at the team's home venue, Vivint Smart Home Arena. 
 
"Like Stockton and Malone as players, Jerry Sloan epitomized the organization," the Jazz said. "He will be greatly missed.

"We extend our heartfelt condolences to his wife, Tammy, the entire Sloan family and all who knew and loved him." 
 
Sloan also had his No. 4 jersey retired by the Bulls in 1978, the first player in franchise history to receive the honor.

Dubbed "The Original Bull" after being acquired from the Baltimore Bullets prior to Chicago's expansion-year 1966-67 season, the McLeansboro, Illinois native made two All-Star teams during a 10-year run with the Bulls that concluded with his retirement in 1976. 
 
Known for his tenacity and defensive skills, Sloan averaged 14 points, 7.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.2 steals per game over 11 NBA seasons, and is the only player in league history to average more than seven rebounds and two steals a game. 
 
"Jerry Sloan was 'The Original Bull' whose tenacious defense and nightly hustle on the court represented the franchise and epitomized the city of Chicago," Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf said in a statement. 

"Jerry was the face of the Bulls organization from its inception through the mid-1970s, and very appropriately, his uniform No. 4 was the first jersey retired by the team. 
 
"A great player and a Hall-of-Fame NBA coach, most importantly, Jerry was a great person. Our sympathies go out to the Sloan family and all his many fans." 
 
Sloan was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009, two years before abruptly resigning 54 games into Utah's 2011-12 season. He rejoined the Jazz as a senior adviser in 2013. 

Legendary Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan has died at the age of 78, the team announced on Friday.

The Jazz said in a statement Sloan passed away as a result of complications from Parkinson's disease and Lewy body dementia, diagnoses he received in April 2016.

Sloan spent 26 years as a coach in the NBA, 23 of which were spent leading the Jazz between 1988 and 2011.

Utilising their famous pick-and-roll offense, and inspired by Hall of Famers Karl Malone and John Stockton, Sloan led the Jazz to the Western Conference title in 1997 and 1998 but they were beaten in the NBA Finals on both occasions by the Michael Jordan-inspired Chicago Bulls – a team he both played for and coached.

"Jerry Sloan will always be synonymous with the Utah Jazz. He will forever be a part of the Utah Jazz organisation and we join his family, friends and fans in mourning his loss," the Jazz statement read. 

"We are so thankful for what he accomplished here in Utah and the decades of dedication, loyalty and tenacity he brought to our franchise. 

"Like Stockton and Malone as players, Jerry Sloan epitomised the organisation. He will be greatly missed. 

"We extend our heartfelt condolences to his wife, Tammy, the entire Sloan family and all who knew and loved him."

Sloan led the Jazz to 15 consecutive playoff appearances and 19 in total and finished his career with the third-most wins in NBA history.

As a player, Sloan was a two-time NBA All-Star and had his number 4 jersey retired by the Bulls, and twice lost in the Conference Finals.

Karl Malone's insistence he has the "utmost respect" for Michael Jordan did little to hide the tension that seemingly still exists between the ex-NBA stars.

Jordan and the great Chicago Bulls dynasty of the 1990s were the subject of the co-produced ESPN and Netflix docuseries 'The Last Dance'.

The Bulls' rivalry with Malone's Utah Jazz in the 1997 and 1998 NBA Finals series were pivotal in the latter episodes.

Malone refused to be a part of the show but ESPN released previously unseen footage of him talking about Jordan and playing the Bulls at that time from an interview in February 2019.

Asked his reaction when he heard the name "Michael Jordan",  Malone – smoking a cigar – replied tersely: "Michael Jordan, Michael Jordan...what else do I need to say?"

Malone was then questioned more specifically on the famous moment of Game 6 of the '98 Finals when Jordan stole the ball from Malone before going on to hit the game-winning shot that secured a second three-peat in the space of eight years.

"Why? Why do I have to?" Malone answered. 

"But I tell you this, I'll all man and I accept the responsibility for not winning one [a championship]. 

"And we was there, we just happened to be playing the Chicago Bulls, which wasn't just Michael Jordan by the way and I have the utmost respect for Michael. 

"But I never thought I was playing Michael Jordan, I was playing the Chicago Bulls but let's not…you know, everybody say this person was a bad man and all of that. Well, yes, I give them respect but I've got a setup. I'm a man, and I was a bad son of a b****, too. 

"So that's how I look at that, and that's who I am. Maybe in my older years I can call it that bluntly but I'm just calling it like I see it."

In the show, Jordan says how he was fired up ahead of the '97 Finals after Malone received the NBA MVP award in the regular season.

While the series has received critical acclaim, some involved have been disapproving of the way events have been portrayed and questioned the involvement of Jordan's production company.

Ex-Bulls star Horace Grant branded Jordan a liar when he accused his former team-mate of being a source for Sam Smith's book 'The Jordan Rules', which paints the Hall of Famer in an unflattering light.

Scottie Pippen, who was beside Jordan for each of the Bulls' six championships in the eight-year span, was another ex-player to appear in the documentary who was supposedly unhappy with his portrayal.

In one episode, Jordan said Pippen was "selfish" over his decision to delay foot surgery that saw him miss the start of the 1997-98 season.

Michael Jordan has been branded a liar by ex-Chicago Bulls team-mate Horace Grant over claims made in 'The Last Dance' series.

In the 10-part docuseries, co-produced by ESPN and Netflix, Jordan accused Grant – who won three NBA championships with the Bulls – of being a source for Sam Smith's book 'The Jordan Rules', which paints the Hall of Famer in an unflattering light.

But Grant, whose relationship with Jordan soured and who later left for the Orlando Magic, denied the accusations and said Jordan merely holds a "grudge".

"Lie, lie, lie. If MJ had a grudge with me, let's settle this like men," Grant said on ESPN 1000 radio. 

"Let's talk about it. Or we can settle it another way. But yet and still, he goes out and puts this lie out that I was the source behind [The Jordan Rules]. 

"Sam Smith and I have always been great friends. We're still great friends. But the sanctity of that locker room, I would never put anything personal out there. 

"The mere fact that Sam Smith was an investigative reporter. That he had to have two sources, two, to write a book, I guess. Why would MJ just point me out?

"It's only a grudge, man. I'm telling you, it was only a grudge. And I think he proved that during this so-called documentary. When if you say something about him, he's going to cut you off, he's going to try to destroy your character."

The legendary Scottie Pippen, who was beside Jordan for each of the Bulls' six championships in an eight-year span, was another ex-player to appear in the documentary who was supposedly unhappy with his portrayal.

In one episode, Jordan said Pippen was "selfish" over his decision to delay foot surgery that saw him miss the start of the 1997-98 season.

"I have never seen a quote-unquote number two guy, as decorated as Scottie Pippen, portrayed so badly," added Grant, who suggested that the documentary was not a true reflection of events given the role Jordan's production company had in the making of the show.

"When that so-called documentary is about one person, basically, and he has the last word on what's going to be put out there…it's not a documentary.

"It's his narrative of what happens in the last, quote-unquote, dance. That's not a documentary because a whole bunch of things was cut out, edited out. So that's why I call it a so-called documentary."

Grant said that Jordan has a history of holding grudges, adding: "My point is, he said that I was the snitch, but yet and still after 35 years he brings up his rookie year going into one of his team-mates' rooms and seeing [drugs] and women.

"Why the hell did he want to bring that up? What's that got to do with anything? I mean, if you want to call somebody a snitch, that's a damn snitch right there."

Page 1 of 8
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.