A composed and soft-spoken Michael Jordan took the witness stand in a Chicago courtroom for nearly four hours Monday and testified that he never refused to act in a 1991 basketball film that flopped without him.
"I maintained enthusiasm about the project. I wanted to participate," Jordan said, even when filming of "Heaven is a Playground" was postponed several times while the producers sought financing.
Jordan said he even agreed to return the $50,000 producers paid him up front and offered his signature to help draw prospective backers when financing hit a snag.
The appearance by the Chicago Bulls superstar came in the midst of a multimillion-dollar breach-of-contract lawsuit alleging he reneged on a deal to star in the movie, which ultimately was made with former Loyola Marymount player Bo Kimble in the role Jordan was to have played. The film made just $168,000 at the box office, its producers allege, and never got national distribution.
The producers are seeking between $16 million and $20 million in damages, or what they believe could have been the film's profit.
Meanwhile, the latest collective bargaining offer from NBA owners includes some movement on their proposals for maximum and minimum salaries, and a response from the union should come this week.
After having the new offer in its hands for three days, the union was preparing to make its next move as the likelihood increased with each passing day that the regular season will not start on time Nov. 3.
If the union decides to present a counterproposal, it could lead to a resumption of face-to-face talks that would give the sides about two weeks to strike a deal allowing for a full 82-game schedule to be played. The NBA has never lost a game because of a labor impasse.