Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Freeze Out

picture of Michael Jordan taken during his rookie year

Indianapolis, 1985 (written by Jack McCallum, Sports Illustrated)

Was Michael Jordan frozen out? Did the Beatles really fake McCartney's death just for the hell of it? Who knows?

In my opinion, there was a freeze-out. Maybe not for the entire game but for major parts of it.

Jordan, flush with rookie success, Nike endorsements and unprecedented crossover appeal, came to his first All-Star Game ready to shine. He wore Swoosh paraphernalia, ignoring an unwritten rule that you wore All-Star stuff to the All-Star Game. Some of the All-Stars, particularly Eastern teammate Isiah Thomas and Western foe Magic Johnson, supposedly took umbrage at this. Or maybe they were just sick of Jordan's popularity. Or maybe they didn't care one way or the other, which is their story.

At any rate, Jordan got only nine shots and seven points and, after the game, a source close to Thomas and Johnson whispered that the two superstars, bosom buds at the time, had conspired to keep the ball from the tongue-wagging Bulls star. When confronted, they denied it. But Jordan always believed it. Thus began a bitter rivalry between the two players, one that Jordan didn't get the best of until his Bulls swept Thomas' Pistons in the 1991 Eastern finals and later, when he spoke out against including Thomas on the first Dream Team at the '92 Olympics.

The West, by the way, won the game 140-129, with Houston's Ralph Sampson winning MVP.

Rick's notes:

In his autobiography, For the Love of the Game, Michael Jordan said:

I was very aware of what I had done on the court and during the first half of my rookie year. The last thing I wanted to do at the 1985 All-Star Game was draw even more attention to myself.

I brought my family with me to Indianapolis and the plan was to soak in all the atmosphere, meet the players, and play the game. My mindset was to blend in and not make waves. Exactly what I was trying to avoid happened anyway. I broke out the first Nike Air Jordan sweats during the slam dunk competition and certain players, Isiah Thomas and Dominique Wilkins for starters, thought I was being disrespectful. I thought I was doing Nike a favor. They had invested so much in me and I figured wearing the warm-ups would be good for the company.

There were other incidents if you want to call them that, where I was perceived one way when I was thinking the complete opposite. Someone I didn't say hello to Isiah in an elevator.

But there was a reason. I was in an elevator full of great players and I was afraid to say anything. I didn't want to come off as being too confident so I didn't say a word. The next day, I'm back in Chicago and a reporter comes up to me after practice and tells me about the freeze out. He said Isiah, George Gervin, and some other players were laughing about how they tried to embarrass me during the game by freezing me out or not giving me the ball. I didn't notice a thing to tell you the truth. But that incident was one of my most painful experiences of my life up to that point.

The next night, we played Detroit at home and I played like I was possessed.

The Eastern All-Stars that year were:
Moses Malone
Larry Bird
Isiah Thomas
Bernard King
Julius Erving
Sidney Moncrief
Terry Cummings
Michael Ray Richardson
Robert Parish
Bill Laimbeer
Dennis Johnson
Michael Jordan


  1. As great as we all know Jordan is today, in 1985 he was a rookie playing on a team with Dr. J, Larry Bird, and other legends – nobody would have spent the entire game passing to Jordan unless they could see into the future. Jordan scored 7 points on 9 shots in 22 minutes in that game. Adrian Dantley scored 10 points on 6 shots in 23 minutes and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar scored 11 points on 10 shots in 23 minutes. Did Magic Johnson freeze them out?

  2. not but in the game, there were many open looks by Jordan that were not acknowledged by his fellow teammates most especially Dr. J and Thomas.. They gave the ball to Jordan when he is in a precarious situation on the court forcing turnovers. It is in this regard that they lost the game.

  3. "There's Michael Jordan and then there is the rest of us."

    —Magic Johnson

  4. Did Isiah & Magic stupidly lock lips like Madonna & Britney?