OREM — An NBA Development League team will refund the ticket prices to the thousands of fans who went to a Utah Flash game Monday night expecting to see Michael Jordan play in a one-on-one charity exhibition at halftime.
Instead, a Jordan look-alike was introduced to face former Utah Jazz guard Bryon Russell in a promotional fiasco that will prove costly to Flash owner Brandt Andersen.
Andersen acknowledged sending a Jordan look-alike around town 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 one-on-one against Russell.
NBADL president Dan Reed joined Andersen in apologizing Tuesday in a statement "for a Utah Flash promotion that never should have happened."
Andersen actually did invite Jordan in September when he issued a public challenge, offering $100,000 to the charity of the winner's choice if he could get Jordan and Russell to square off in a game of "21."
The Flash 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 look-alike 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 the arena.
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.
During Jordan's Hall of Fame speech, he said he was motivated by Russell's trash talk toward him during his first retirement.
As part of his apology, Andersen is offering tickets for a future Flash game for fans with tickets from Monday night's game. Reed's statement said the Flash will also refund the tickets for Monday.