The Milwaukee Bucks Are Ready for a Long Stay in the Bubble

Stein: In a reference to Jimmy Butler’s attempt on Saturday to wear a jersey without a name, @jcolton31 tweeted the famed picture of Michael Jordan from Valentine’s Day in 1990 that showed His Airness wearing an otherwise blank No. 12 after his No. 23 went missing that day.

It’s one of the most enduring tales from the Jordan archive, but the circumstances won’t help Butler, who, as a statement of equality, tried to wear a jersey with no name or social justice message.

Butler, though, was required to switch jerseys before the Heat tipped off or risk ejection because it is against league rules to wear a jersey that has been altered. The league office, on this violation, was unwilling to yield, though Commissioner Adam Silver announced last week that he would not enforce the league’s policy requiring “dignified” standing during the national anthem.

In Jordan’s days, furthermore, teams didn’t travel with as many extra jerseys as they do now. On that occasion, Jordan had to wear No. 12 because it was the only extra one the Bulls had on that road trip. As seen Sunday, Miami’s bench had a No. 22 with Butler’s nameplate affixed to it ready as soon as he was told to remove the No. 22 that was otherwise blank.

Jordan, for the record, scored 49 points (on 43 shots) in his lone outing as No. 12.

Q: As a fan of both the English Premier League and N.B.A., or soccer and basketball more broadly, I’m wondering if you can envision some form of the soccer’s loan system ever being used in the N.B.A.? It might be better suited to Major League Baseball, where a big-market American League team could loan a top prospect to a smaller-market team in the National League, or vice versa, but I’m curious whether some approximation of the same system is possible in basketball. — Alex von Nordheim (Baltimore)

Stein: We’re on a roll lately with the questions that inject soccer into the basketball discussion. Kudos, Alex.

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