ESPN’s “The Last Dance” has caused many people to unveil previously untold stories, and Indiana Basketball had their own Calbert Cheaney as the focal point of one of them recently.
In a recent episode of The Lowe Post podcast, hosted by ESPN NBA writer Zach Lowe, the great journalist Michael Wilbon talked about his relationship with the Bulls’ players and recounted some interesting stories. One of the most intriguing stories he told during the 45-minute podcast was about the time when former IU great Calbert Cheaney went against Jordan.
As most people know, Cheaney was unable to follow up on his phenomenal college career, having very little success in the NBA despite being drafted sixth overall by the Washington Bullets. At the time of this story, Cheaney was in his fourth season with the Bullets. He averaged 30.5 minutes per game and 10.6 points per game during the year, helping his team secure the 8th seed, where they played the Chicago Bulls.
The Bulls swept the Bullets 3-0, and Jordan had a signature performance in game two, scoring 55 points on 22 of 35 shooting while being guarded by Cheaney. However, Michael Wilbon brought up an almost paradoxical point about Cheaney’s defense.
“Calbert Cheaney got a hand on Michael’s shot four times. He blocked four!” Wilbon recalled. “After the game, I just asked [Jordan]. I said, ‘Look, I don’t want to sound stupid, just jump me if you have to. I know what you just scored, I know what you just shot. But that seems like it’s one of the great defensive efforts I have ever seen you go against.’”
According to Wilbon, Michael Jordan replied without hesitation.
“Yep,” Jordan remarked, “You’re absolutely right. Nobody’s going to believe you because of the numbers., but you’re right’”
There have been a few little nuggets of Indiana Basketball sprinkled in with the Michael Jordan hullabaloo, and this is perhaps the most interesting one yet.