December 08, 2009
Apparently, Mark Cuban wasn't the only one playing make-believe on Monday.
Utah Flash owner Brandt Anderson pulled off a WWE-like scripted hoax last night to the disappointment of 7,500 fans who believed that Michael Jordan and Bryon Russell, the former Utah Jazz forward, were about to play a one-on-one game during halftime of an NBA Development League game.
As you might recall, Russell challenged Jordan to a battle after remarks that MJ made about Russ during his Hall of Fame speech in September. Always one to see dollar bills and free publicity in a situation, Andersen said he would pay the winner of the challenge $100,000 for the charity of his choice.
And then things got wacky.
According to Deadspin, the Flash went so far as to hire a Jordan look-alike to walk around Provo on Monday — and even uploaded a YouTube video of "Jordan," flanked by "bodyguards," eating at a quiet local restaurant — to build some buzz.
It worked ...
... and then completely backfired.
During halftime the lights were turned off and Russell came out asking for Jordan. Then from the other side of the court a Jordan impersonator came out surrounded by bodyguards. A few moments later Russell announced it was an impersonator and then left the court while the fans booed loudly.
Well, that didn't go as smoothly as some had hoped. Quick! Give 'em free swag!
The Flash employees tried to cheer the crowd up by throwing out free t-shirts, but the boos continued, and some people even threw the t-shirts back. Most left after halftime.
As part of his apology, Andersen offered tickets for a future Flash game for fans with tickets from Monday night's game.
He promises Orien Greene will be in attendance.
UPDATE: NBA D-League President Dan Reed has released a statement on the ill-conceived promotion:
"On behalf of the NBA Development League, I apologize to our fans for a Utah Flash promotion that never should have happened. [...] Brandt Andersen, the Utah Flash owner, has apologized to the Flash fans and has reached out to Michael Jordan to apologize to him as well.
The Flash will refund the price of the tickets and has also offered free tickets to an upcoming Flash game to everyone who was in attendance at Monday night's game."
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