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Original Issue

In Fairness to His Airness

I'm sorry. I realize I've been wrong in the past for criticizing
Michael Jordan. I'm a very stupid person.

I now agree with every other man, woman and columnist in America,
all of whom believe that whatever Michael does, he does better
than anybody else in the world. You won't hear another negative
word out of my mouth about Mike.

Therefore, in my report on the 7-31 Washington Wizards, the NBA
team Jordan has partly owned and operated for a year, I'll make
only positive and supportive statements. For instance....

Wear and tear on the nets at MCI Center is way down.

Parking is ungodly good.

Yes, the Wizards have played like arthritic moose, but because
Jordan still lives in Chicago, he's only had to see them play
live eight times this season.

If they can keep from winning two more games, thereby eclipsing
the 9-73 Philadelphia 76ers of 1972-73 for the NBA's worst
record, the Wizards' names will be written in history.

Jordan's trade for forward Tyrone Nesby was sheer genius.

True, when he took the job Jordan said he'd come to the games
and practice often with the Wizards, who he said would be ".500
at worst" this season and "in the playoffs." None of these
things have happened, but with Daniel Snyder in town, Michael is
still not the worst owner in Washington.

And, true, Jordan said he wanted to be in his players' faces this
season to see if they had the fire in their eyes, but he does
have a satellite dish and very good reception.

Plus, by ripping his team in the Chicago papers, causing the
Wizards to react in unison against him, Jordan brought his
players closer together.

In a poll of visiting players, Washington was voted the favorite
place to play on the road in the NBA.

Because there are so many empty seats at Wizards games--8,963 for
a Jan. 2 game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, not including
Michael's--the remote-controlled miniblimp has plenty of good
places to land.

Jordan has been unable to move overpriced stiffs Juwan Howard,
Mitch Richmond and Rod Strickland, which has been a very nice
thing for their wives or girlfriends.

Also, when Howard's and Strickland's contracts are up, Jordan
should have an easy time renegotiating. All three use David Falk
as their agent.

Autograph Day, often a burden for NBA players, was over for the
Wizards in seven minutes.

Though some naysayers are calling the Wizards one of the worst
teams in history, experts believe they could still beat many
clubs, including the 1976 Athletes in Action, most of the Drake
teams of the '30s and almost any of the Culinary Institute of
America squads.

The Wizards haven't been distracted by the allure of
endorsements, interviews and zealous fans, a rarity in this day
and age.

Charitable giving of Wizards tickets is at an alltime high.

Fans haven't had to learn all the legal and financial mumbo jumbo
of the salary cap, because Jordan hasn't cleared much out from
under the cap for the Wizards, who have the fifth-highest payroll
in the league.

If things continue as they are, there's a good chance many
season-ticket holders will be signed to 10-day player contracts.

In this era of rising fan dissatisfaction with the NBA, it's
important to note that as of Sunday the Wizards had sent 17 of 20
road crowds home happy.

Service by the Wizards' front office has never been better. When
a fan calls in to ask what time the game starts, he's often
asked, "What time can you get here?"

By rarely showing up in the nation's capital, Jordan reduces his
risk of running into Strickland, whose recent DUI arrest was his
third in five seasons with the club. (He was convicted in 1998
and acquitted in '99.)

Plus, by not flying to Washington to perform such duties as
firing last year's coach, Gar Heard, in person, Jordan saved the
team airfare, lodging and per diem.

Finally, he does this job a helluva lot better than he hit the


By rarely showing up in the nation's capital, Michael Jordan
reduces his risk of running into Rod Strickland