An NBA Development League team will refund the ticket prices to the thousands of fans who went to a Utah Flash game and expected Michael Jordan to play in a charity exhibition at halftime.
A Jordan lookalike instead was introduced to face former Utah Jazz guard Bryon Russell in a promotional fiasco that will cost Flash owner Brandt Andersen.
Andersen acknowledged sending a Jordan lookalike around town on Monday, when supposed "Jordan" sightings and an internet video of the impostor eating at a local restaurant created buzz that Jordan really was in town. More than 7,500 fans showed up hoping to see Jordan play 1-on-1 against Russell.
NBADL president Dan Reed joined Andersen in apologising today in a statement "for a Utah Flash promotion that never should have happened."
Andersen really did invite Jordan in September when he issued a public challenge, offering US$100,000 to the charity of the winner's choice. The team continued pitching the Jordan-Russell rematch despite never hearing from Jordan after Andersen issued the first challenge.
Andersen maintained he held out hope that Jordan would agree to be part of Monday's promotion.
Andersen said he had always planned to send out a lookalike into the community.
"We wanted to test the strength and effectiveness of viral media by putting him out in Provo with bodyguards, and some hype," he said. "I always assumed it would be uncovered very quickly that it was a hoax."
Fans caught on when the impostor trotted to the court at halftime. They started booing, then leaving.
Jordan's jumper over Russell in Game 6 of the 1998 NBA finals gave the Chicago Bulls a 4-2 series win over Utah. Jazz fans still insist Jordan pushed off Russell.
Sourced from: The New Zealand Herald