ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith called out former Chicago Bulls star Michael Jordan for making a “false statement” about his role in the NBA’s historic rise in popularity.
In a tweet Monday, Smith said the retired guard, whose playing career spanned more than a decade, should have retired when he was at his peak and was no longer a player, and called Jordan’s actions “dangerous” and “unacceptable.”
In a statement, ESPN said it “respects the opinions of our colleagues and the thousands of former players who have spoken out about this topic in the past.”
Jordan, a four-time NBA champion and three-time MVP, said in his statement that “when I first became aware of the media’s false reporting, I immediately reached out to the NBA Players Association and the team to correct the record.
I was also contacted by my agent and my representatives who were adamant that I was not at fault for the false report and were ready to assist me in any way that I needed.”
The Chicago Bulls, who finished a franchise-worst 17-58 last season, have been plagued by injuries, and the franchise has had to shed several key players in recent years.
Jordan’s retirement will be remembered for many other reasons, but it is unlikely he will be forgotten for all of his contributions to the league.
Jordan played his last game for the Bulls on Oct. 31, 1999, at the age of 37.
He had not played a professional basketball game since 2006 when he played for the Miami Heat.
The Bulls won the NBA championship that season, Jordan’s first as a member of the Bulls.
Jordan led the league in scoring (17.3 points per game) and rebounding (7.4 rebounds per game), while also averaging a career-high 7.1 assists per game.
In 2003, the Bulls drafted Jordan in the first round, and he became a five-time All-Star.
The team was renamed the Chicago Bulls and he went on to become one of the league’s most influential players.
Jordan died of an overdose in 2003, shortly after he became the NBA MVP.
His death led to a national debate about the dangers of playing sports in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.