Freddie Glusman’s idea of a prank phone call once involved a hoops legend, a Vegas icon and his stepson.
About 35 years ago, the Piero’s owner took a call for a random favor from his good friend and well-known sports marketing executive Sonny Vaccaro. At the time Glusman also owned and operated The Sporting House athletic club, a favorite workout facility on Industrial Road.
Vaccaro had just signed Michael Jordan to an endorsement contract with Nike. That deal would forever lift the fortunes of Vaccaro and Jordan … and satisfy millions of feet.
Vaccaro had asked if Glusman could set up a couple of rounds of golf for Jordan at Las Vegas Country Club. This was just after Jordan left the University of North Carolina in 1984, on his way to starring for the Chicago Bulls. Jordan’s playing career has returned to the fore in “The Last Dance,” the ESPN documentary focused on his final season with the Bulls. Episodes 5-6 in the 10-part series air at 6 p.m. Sunday.
Before Jordan won any of his six NBA titles, Glusman had arranged for him to play two rounds at LVCC. Jordan tooled around the course with Glusman’s son, Evan Glusman, and his stepson, Charlie Skinner. (This is the trip where Las Vegan Trent Othick also met Jordan and wound up with a signed painting of the hoops legend).
Jordan was shooting hoops at The Sporting House when Glusman called another of his famous friends, UNLV Runnin’ Rebels coach Jerry Tarkanian.
“I called Tark and told him, ‘I have a fabulous recruit for you. He’s at The Sporting House now and you have to see him,’ ” Glusman said this week. “I didn’t tell him who it was. Everyone in the place knew what was going on. So Tark came over, saw Jordan shooting baskets and said, ‘The recruit! I think I know him!’ ”
Skinner, 14 years old at the time, remembers feeding Jordan alley-oops during the shoot-around.
“I got to spend the entire day with him, including playing basketball at The Sporting House,” Skinner recalls. “I threw him a lob at the top of the square. I remember thinking I threw the pass too high, but he caught it and dunked it. I will never forget it.”
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats! podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at email@example.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.