Chicago, IL (May 28, 2020) – Beginning today, NBC Sports Regional Networks debuts a new six-episode, weekly podcast anthology series, "Sports Uncovered," that re-examines some of the most memorable and compelling storylines and events in sports history. With new episodes publishing each Thursday through July 2, this original storytelling franchise utilizes exclusive, in-depth interviews with prominent participants, witnesses and experts to explore new, underreported or forgotten aspects of well-known topics centered in each of the NBC Sports Regional Networks markets.
The debut episode of the "Sports Uncovered" podcast series, entitled "I'm Back," is more than just a story about the most famous two-word fax in sports history, it unveils never-before-heard stories about the events leading up to basketball legend Michael Jordan's return to the NBA and the Chicago Bulls, including his secret workouts with another iconic NBA franchise, new stories detailing his 1995 on-court return against the Indiana Pacers, plus – anecdotes about the additional jersey that was kept around by the team's equipment manager and much more. Podcast DOWNLOAD HERE.
Among the stories revealed for the first time include:
Prior to his early March 1995 Berto Center workouts with the Bulls, and to test himself against the league's next generation of emerging young stars, Jordan held secret, behind-closed-door workouts over a two to three-day period with … the Golden State Warriors. Former Warriors greats Tim Hardaway and Chris Mullin, along with MJ's friend/former teammate Rod Higgins, discuss those high-intensity practice sessions that featured Jordan wearing Warriors practice attire.
Longtime Bulls photographer Bill Smith and NBC Sports NBA reporter Ahmad Rashad were the only two people inside Jordan's private locker room before his first game back against the Pacers, both of whom detail that private, pre-game scene.
While Jordan started his '95 comeback wearing #45, veteran Bulls equipment manager John Ligmanowski tells the story of why he carried a #23 jersey everywhere they went, just in case.
NBC Sports' Mike Tirico introduces each "Sports Uncovered" podcast, including the "I'm Back" episode, which also features additional, candid Jordan era recollections from former Bulls teammates Steve Kerr, Toni Kukoc and Horace Grant, past NBA greats Dominique Wilkins, Robert Horry and Glen Rice, NBA legend/three-time champion LeBron James, along with longtime agent David Falk, longtime personal trainer Tim Grover and former NBA Senior VP/Basketball Communications Brian McIntyre among others.
Among the highlighted quotes from the one-hour Sports Uncovered/"I'm Back" podcast, include the following:
Tim Hardaway revealing MJ practiced with Warriors: "The reason why I'm smiling, I might get in trouble for this. Him and Rod Higgins are really, really good friends. He came and practiced with us two or three times and we knew he was coming back then. He just took over our practice, just took over our practice. He got five guys that wasn't playing that much, and he said ‘us seven will play you all's seven in a scrimmage,' and it was like he never left."
Rod Higgins on MJ/Warriors practices: "Michael was a Warrior for 48 hours…he came in and (Warriors equipment manager) Eric Housen dressed him out in Warriors gear, he might have given him number 23. Once Michael got warmed up, you could tell his objective was to basically kick Spree (Latrell Sprewell) and Tim's (Hardaway) behind, and talk trash to them."
Chris Mullin on observing MJ against younger Warriors stars: "I always thought he was coming back, but a day like that...he was just so fit, so it wasn't a physical thing, but seeing him on the basketball court and playing against, Sprewell was a really good player and he was in midseason form, for him to do that, I thought it's just a matter of time."
Tim Grover on MJ vs. Sprewell in Warriors practice sessions: "My take on this...Latrell was one of the more explosive, more athletic and he was probably one of the better players during that short run that he had. So what Michael needed to know, even though I took the time off, can I still come back and kick his ass?... and in his mind he's like, ‘I've been gone from this game for how long? And he's supposed to be the top player? Alright.' He wasn't testing himself against Sprewell, he was testing himself against himself."
John Ligmanowski on jersey number preparedness: "He decided he was going to go with the 45, and I said ‘I'll tell you what I'll do, I'll make the 23 up too so we'll have both. We'll have the 45, the 23 in case you change your mind, I got it.'... I always carried the 23 around with me in case he decided, (and) it happened."
In addition to today's "I'm Back" download debut, please note the following upcoming NBC Sports Regional Networks "Sports Uncovered" podcast series release dates/episode descriptions:
NBC Sports RSN
"I'm Back": Michael Jordan's 1995 NBA return
"The Bill Belichick You Don't Know": Belichick's closest confidants reveal the side of the New England Patriots head coach the public doesn't get to see.
"The Uniform Craze That Revolutionized College Football": How the University of Oregon ignited a fashion arms race across the NCAA and all sports, by going from having Donald Duck as its mascot to trendsetting Nike uniforms that attracted five-star recruits to Eugene.
"Sean Taylor, the NFL Superstar We Didn't Get to Know": Untold stories that explain why the NFL's biggest stars revere Sean Taylor, the Washington Redskins safety who was killed at 24 while protecting his family.
"Marathon on Ice": How the Philadelphia Flyers & Pittsburgh Penguins survived seven hours of playoff hockey as they battled in the longest game of the NHL's modern era.
"The Mysterious Disappearance that Changed a Super Bowl": Barret Robbins in his own words -- from prison -- revealing the real reasons why he disappeared and missed playing in the Raiders' loss in Super Bowl XXXVII.
NOTE: "Sports Uncovered" podcast episodes are available for download on ALL major podcast platforms, including: NBCSports.com/podcasts, NBC Sports' Scores app, Apple, Stitcher, Spotify, Google Podcasts, TuneIn and iHeart.
NBC Sports Chicago, a partnership between the Chicago Blackhawks (NHL), Chicago Bulls (NBA), Chicago White Sox (MLB) and the NBC Sports Group, features over 275 live pro games in high definition each year. In addition, NBC Sports Chicago delivers extensive pre/post-game coverage for its core pro team partners, as well as Chicago Bears and Chicago Cubs multi-platform coverage, plus - local sports discussion programs that includes SportsTalk Live, and massive cross-platform coverage provided by the network's growing digital platform, NBCSportsChicago.com, the "MyTeams by NBC Sports" app, and its variety of fan-focused social media outlets. Fans can follow the network on Twitter via @NBCSChicago.
NBC Sports Regional Networks is NBC Sports Group's portfolio of nine regional networks that delivers more than 2,200 live sporting events and original content to more than 35 million homes. Aligned within Eastern and Western Divisions, the NBC Sports Regional Networks are: NBC Sports Boston, NBC Sports Philadelphia, NBC Sports Philadelphia +, NBC Sports Washington, NBC Sports Washington + and SNY; and NBC Sports Bay Area, NBC Sports California, NBC Sports Chicago/NBC Sports Chicago+, and NBC Sports Northwest. For more information on NBC Sports Group properties, including press releases, photos, talent and executive bios, headshots and logos, please visit www.NBCSportsGroupPressBox.com.