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#pounditFriday, January 28, 2022

Stories by Steve DelVecchio:

Ex-teammate says Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen may never make amends

Michael Jordan giving a speech

Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan had a strained relationship before “The Last Dance” was released, but the documentary has seemingly taken the tension to a new level. According to one former Chicago Bulls player, the issues between the two Hall of Famers are unlikely to ever be resolved.

Charles Oakley, who played with Pippen and Jordan in Chicago for a brief time, spoke about the rift between Pippen and M.J. during an appearance on “The Bill Simmons Podcast” this week. He said he was somewhat surprised to see how Pippen was portrayed in “The Last Dance” since Jordan always spoke so highly of Scottie.

“He always praised Scottie, never talked down about him,” Oakley said. “I don’t know what happened since ‘The Last Dance.’ … (Jordan’s) not gonna say nothing in the press and go back at Scottie. He’s just gonna keep doing what he’s doing — play golf, fish and relax and smoke cigars.”

There were a lot of negative things about Pippen in “The Last Dance.” Pippen was shown showing up late for a season because he didn’t want to get surgery over the offseason, which Jordan branded as “selfish.” There was also an in-depth look at Pippen’s refusal to go into a playoff game because Phil Jackson set up a play for Toni Kukoc over him. After the documentary aired, it became clear that Pippen was livid about his portrayal.

Oakley said he doesn’t think Jordan and Pippen will ever bury the hatchet.

“I think it’s over,” Oakley said. “It wasn’t great from the get-go.”

You can hear more of Oakley’s comments below:

It has been over a year since “The Last Dance” was released, and Pippen has gone off on Jordan on multiple occasions. He blasted Jordan in several ways in a book he published. Pippen also downplayed one of the most celebrated games of Jordan’s career.

Pippen doesn’t seem like he wants to be friends with Jordan, and the feeling is likely mutual. As Oakley said, their relationship was not in a great place before “The Last Dance.” It may be tarnished beyond repair now, which is a shame considering all they accomplished together on the court.

Photo: Dec 21, 2013; Charlotte, NC, USA; Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan unveils the new Charlotte Hornets logo at halftime during the game against the Utah Jazz at Time Warner Cable Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

Raiders owner wants to hire Josh McDaniels as head coach?

Josh McDaniels

There have been varying reports about the Las Vegas Raiders’ level of interest in Josh McDaniels as their next head coach, but it sounds like McDaniels has a legitimate shot at landing the job.

The Raiders have put in a request with the New England Patriots to interview McDaniels, according to multiple reports. They’re hoping to sit down with the offensive coordinator on Friday. Ian Rapoport of NFL Media says Raiders owner Mark Davis has been eyeing McDaniels for weeks.

The Raiders are also interested in Patriots director of player personnel Dave Ziegler for their vacant general manager position. Rapoport says they could hire both if their interview with McDaniels goes well.

A report on Wednesday claimed the Raiders’ interest in McDaniels had rapidly faded, but that does not appear to be the case.

McDaniels interviewed for at least one head coach job last offseason. He infamously backed out after agreeing to become a team’s head coach a few years ago. Because of that and his previous NFL head coaching gig, McDaniels has had to tread lightly during recent hiring cycles.

While his resume as an offensive coordinator is as good as it gets, McDaniels already had one failed stint as a head coach. He lasted less than two seasons with the Denver Broncos in 2009 and 2010, finishing with an 11-17 record. McDaniels knows his next head coaching opportunity could be his last, which is why he has been so selective.

Photo: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Joel Embiid had awesome gesture for Jose Alvarado after double technical

Joel Embiid holds a basketball

New Orleans Pelicans rookie Jose Alvarado made the first start of his career on Tuesday night, and he got into it with one of the best players in the NBA during the game. That resulted in a technical foul, but Alvarado may not have to pay the associated fine.

Alvarado and Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid were each hit with technical fouls after they jawed at one another during the Sixers’ 117-107 win. That means both players will be fined $2,000. However, Alvarado told reporters on Thursday that Embiid reached out to him and offered to cover the fine for the first-year player.

That’s a classy gesture from Embiid, who obviously makes a lot more money than Alvarado. Embiid is playing under a five-year, $147 million contract. Alvarado went undrafted and signed a two-way contract with the Pelicans over the summer. Still, Embiid had no obligation to do that.

Embiid reminded us recently that he prides himself on talking trash to opponents. In this instance, he must have felt bad that he contributed to costing a rookie some money.

Photo: Nov 27, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) warms up before action against the Sacramento Kings at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Did Byron Leftwich force Jaguars to fire GM Trent Baalke?

Trent Baalke at a press conference

Byron Leftwich is viewed as the favorite to be named the next head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, but he may want them to make a major front office move before he signs on the dotted line.

A report earlier this week claimed Leftwich was close to finalizing a deal with the Jaguars. Those talks have since stalled, and that may have something to do with general manager Trent Baalke. First Coast News sports director Chris Porter reported on Thursday morning that Leftwich wants the Jaguars to fire Baalke and hire Arizona Cardinals executive Adrian Wilson as their next GM.

Leftwich has a relationship with Wilson from Leftwich’s time with the Cardinals. Prior to being hired as the offensive coordinator of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Leftwich was an assistant coach in Arizona for two seasons.

Leftwich may have gotten his way. According to Mike Jurecki of the Cardinals’ official website, Jacksonville is working toward hiring Wilson as GM and Leftwich as head coach.

Baalke is extremely unpopular in Jacksonville. Thousands of Jaguars fans dressed in clown costumes for the final game in the regular season to show the team how unhappy they are with the job Baalke has done. There have been reports that some candidates would only have interest in the Jaguars head coaching job if Baalke were fired.

It would appear Leftwich is one of those coaches. The 42-year-old is suddenly drawing interest from another NFL team, but he has ties to the Jags organization. Leftwich was drafted by Jacksonville in the first round back in 2003 and started 44 games for the Jags.

Before he joined the Jaguars’ front office in 2020, Baalke’s previous job was as GM of the San Francisco 49ers from 2011-2016. The Niners enjoyed great success early in Baalke’s tenure with the team, but he has been criticized for forcing Jim Harbaugh out. It would hardly be a surprise if Leftwich didn’t want to work under him.

Photo: Jaguars general manager Trent Baalke during Friday afternoon’s press conference at TIAA Bank Field. After his arrival in Jacksonville, Florida Friday morning, April 30, 2021, Jacksonville Jaguars first-round draft pick Trevor Lawrence along with team owner Shad Khan, head coach Urban Meyer and the Jaguars general manager Trent Baalke held a press conference in the afternoon inside TIAA Bank Field. They were also joined by the Jaguars 25th pick in the first round of the draft and former Clemson teammate of Lawrence, running back Travis Etienne. [Bob Self/Florida Times-Union]

Twitter reacts to Josh Allen snubbing Pro Bowl

Josh Allen in a Bills hat

Josh Allen was considered one of the biggest Pro Bowl snubs when the 2021 rosters were announced, and the Buffalo Bills star has decided to return the favor.

Allen was an alternate for the Pro Bowl. He was invited to Las Vegas this week after Lamar Jackson withdrew due to an ankle injury. Allen announced on Thursday that he has turned down the invite “in order to allow my body to rest and recover from the harshness of the season.”

Allen even went as far as to say he gets a lot of bumps and bruises because of his playing style. However, most fans want to believe that he was simply sticking his middle finger up at the Pro Bowl after not being voted in. There were some great reactions on Twitter.

Allen’s numbers this season were only slightly worse than a year ago, when he was viewed as a legitimate MVP candidate. He threw for 4,407 yards, 36 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. His performance against the Kansas City Chiefs last week was a reminder that he is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, let alone the AFC. Allen went 27/37 for 329 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions in that game. Buffalo lost thanks in part to a massive late game blunder.

Even if Allen were healthy, we have our doubts that he would have accepted the Pro Bowl invite. The Bills were clearly bothered by their lack of Pro Bowl players and felt disrespected by it.

Photo: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Byron Leftwich reportedly a candidate for Saints job

Byron Leftwich

Byron Leftwich was said to be nearing a deal to become the next head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars earlier this week, but the New Orleans Saints may want a say in the matter.

The Saints are suddenly searching for a new head coach after Sean Payton announced he is stepping away from the team. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, they have requested permission to interview Leftwich.

Leftwich was drafted by Jacksonville in the first round back in 2003 and started 44 games for the Jags. He has spent the last two seasons working with Tom Brady, which has boosted his resume significantly. You can understand why Jacksonville would be intrigued by the idea of having him work with Trevor Lawrence.

A report on Tuesday claimed Leftwich and the Jags were finalizing a deal, but it appears that was premature.

It also makes sense that the Saints have interest in Leftwich. The 42-year-old has been the offensive coordinator of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the last three seasons, so he has experience in the NFC South.

Leftwich may end up with his choice of jobs this offseason.

Photo: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Vic Fangio a surprise head coach candidate for AFC team

Vic Fangio on the sideline

Vic Fangio was fired by the Denver Broncos earlier this month after three seasons with the team, but he may already have a shot at another head coaching job.

Fangio has interviewed for the Jacksonville Jaguars job, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The Jaguars appear to have another candidate at the top of their list, but they have yet to make a hire.

Fangio went 19-30 in three seasons with the Broncos. He was fired after the team finished 7-10 this year. He had a surprisingly blunt response about Denver’s quarterback situation toward the end of the year, so he might be intrigued by the possibility of working with Trevor Lawrence.

It’s hard to imagine Fangio is at the top of the Jaguars’ list. They are likely just trying to keep all options open.

Photo: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Top candidate removes himself from consideration for NFL head coach jobs

Dan Quinn

There are still several head coaching vacancies around the NFL, but Dan Quinn will not be filling one of them.

Quinn has informed teams that he will remain with the Dallas Cowboys as defensive coordinator in 2022, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network. The 51-year-old had received interview requests from six teams.

The timing of the Quinn news may not have been a coincidence. Pelissero’s report surfaced not long after Matt Eberflus was hired as head coach of the Chicago Bears and Nathaniel Hackett landed the Denver Broncos job. Quinn was viewed as a favorite for the Broncos job at one point. It’s possible he would have taken it if offered.

Quinn should have just as good of a chance at landing a head coaching job next offseason. He was expected to pass on one opening from the start, so it sounds like it would have taken the perfect opportunity to convince him to leave Dallas.

Photo: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports