Since I'm not about to get within a par-5 of my mail, I'll take
your questions directly. I'll start with Helen Thomas.
Isn't it true that way back in March you said Michael Jordan was
going to come back? You must feel good about that, considering
all the crap you took.
Actually, when I said Jordan was going to make a comeback, I
meant baseball. Next question. Mr. Donaldson.
The Washington Wizards' front office reports that 4% of the
Wizards' season-ticket holders gave up their seats for this
season, most of them not believing Jordan was really going to do
it. What do you guess those people are thinking now?
They're thinking, How can I close my head in this oven? Next.
How good will Jordan be?
Very good. At times you won't be able to slide a slice of pizza
under his shoes when he jumps, but he's still Michael Freaking
Jordan. He'll be one of the top 10 players in the league, he'll
average about 24 points a game, and three times a night he'll
give you XL goose bumps because a) he's got the best three of
his life; b) he'll be able to get it off against the new zone
defenses; and c) who's he going to pass to, Tyrone Nesby? Next.
Can Jordan take the Wizards to the next level?
Definitely. Unfortunately that new level is Dreadful, just up
from Suck. Mr. Blitzer?
Is it true that the day after you wrote about Jordan's comeback,
his own agent, David Falk, called and said, "Somebody's lying to
you"? Who was he talking about?
I have a follow-up. Did Fox Sports Net's Jack Haley also rip you
mercilessly back then?
Yes, he did.
Who is Fox Sports Net's Jack Haley?
I have no idea. Next. Mr. Roker.
Who wins in all this?
The Wizards come out looking like Miss Universe. They sign
arguably the greatest player in history at a 97% discount ($1
million instead of the $33.1 million he made his last season).
The value of the franchise may double. Plus, he'll probably play
two seasons, after which they should have acres of cap room.
But the biggest winner is probably the Wizards' first-round
pick, 19-year-old forward Kwame Brown. "Instead of getting
abused by veterans, he gets embraced by the king of basketball,"
says Wizards assistant coach Johnnie Bach. On the bus, on the
court, at dinners, the 38-year-old Jordan is giving Brown a
crash course in NBA life. After all, when grasshopper Brown was
barely two years old, master Jordan was already a pro. The other
night, Jordan yelled at Brown to get dressed before the media
came in. (Jordan almost never presents himself to the public
without looking like a Neiman Marcus catalog.) The lessons
aren't free, though. After practice, Brown has to shoot against
Jordan for cash money and almost always loses. As Jordan tells
him, "You reach. I teach."
Is it true that Chicago Sun-Times writer Lacy Banks wrote back
in March that if you had simply checked with either Jordan, Falk
or Jordan's personal trainer, Tim Grover--all of whom denied
that Jordan was coming back--you would've saved yourself "a lot
Yes, it is.
What do you think you get when you're a guy named Lacy?
A lot of embarrassment. Next. Mr. Woodward and Mr. Bernstein.
What should we look for this Tuesday night when Jordan goes
against the New York Knicks in his first regular-season game?
Look for a smile on Jordan's face the size of a cantaloupe slice.
I've never seen him relish basketball so much. And look for the
game to be sent to 210 countries, which makes it the most widely
broadcast NBA regular-season game in history. What would you
rather watch: Jordan or World Series players setting records in
the spit, scratch and stall? Last question. Mr. Murrow.
Clear back in March, when you said Jordan would be back, did the
New York Post's Peter Vecsey write, "What's next? Amelia Earhart
alive?... Earth to Rick, Elvis is dead, and Jordan ain't
returning to play for the Wizards!"?
Yes, he did.
Have you seen him lately?
No. I hear he's covering the big Amelia Earhart landing.
COLOR PHOTO: DANA FINEMAN/SYGMA