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Hochman: A Michael Jordan story you’ve never heard before

Hochman: A Michael Jordan story you’ve never heard before

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Stan Kaufman

At a Charlotte Hornets game in the 1990s, young Stan Kaufman (left) listens to the national anthem alongside friend Hugo The Hornet (right). Photo courtesy of Harold Kaufman

It was 1998, the year of “The Last Dance.”

Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls were in Charlotte for a game against the Hornets. Harold Kaufman is currently the vice president of communications for the New York Mets, but back then, he worked for the Hornets in media relations. Harold’s son, Stan, was 7 years old at the time.

On the phone Tuesday, Harold shared the story:

“To get to the team bus at the old Charlotte Coliseum, players came out of the visiting locker room and had to go through the press room, in order to go out the back to the loading dock. It was a morning shootaround before a Bulls-Hornets game. I would take Stan with me to shootaround or practice when the opportunity allowed. And he always knew how to behave and all, because he was always around the NBA. He knew where to not be in order to stay out of the way.

"But of course, this was Michael Jordan.

“It was always a bigger deal when Jordan came to Charlotte because that's his home state. His mom would come in and cater food into the locker room for the team after the game, and they would have a feast. He would get 50 or 60 passes for postgame for guests. I remember that vividly, giving him all these passes, and then his whole group would wait in the loading dock area for him after the game.

“But anyway, this was at shootaround, and he was coming out, and they were getting on a bus. I guess he was in a hurry. Stan had sort of stationed himself in the press room, because he knew that Jordan was going to have to go through there. And – all the media are waiting in the press room to interview Jordan.

“Jordan says to everyone: ‘I’ve got time for one question.’ And Stan just yelps out: ‘Can I have your autograph?’ And he goes, ‘Great question – yes!' And he signed his stuff and walked off to the bus.

“I didn’t see it, but someone came up and shared it with me: ‘You know, you might have some angry media.’”

Today, Stan Kaufman is an agent in the sports broadcast and marketing division at William Morris Endeavor (WME). According to his father, Stan’s first shoes were “these baby Air Jordans. It was ‘92 or so and they came in this little tin box with the logo.”

Harold had another quick story about Stan and another Bull.

“I remember Dennis Rodman coming out and patting him on the head ... and him telling me that he wasn't going to wash his hair because Rodman touched it.

“It is fun to talk about. It's good memories … except that we got knocked out by the Bulls every time we played them.”

Chicago ended Charlotte’s season in the 1995 playoffs, and again in ’98. That was a second-round matchup, featured last Sunday in ESPN’s documentary “The Last Dance.” This Sunday, ESPN will air the final two parts. 

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