Kiss The Game Goodbye



First Jackson and now Jordan. The two kings of their respective arts are back.

Michael Jordan has the basketball world up in arms with his recent announcement that he will return to the NBA. David Stern is seeing dollar signs, the Wizards are thanking God for the much needed addition, and basketball fans are more exited than ever.

There are others, however, who think this is the worst decision "His Airness" has ever made. Some think that like Muhammad Ali before him, the comeback will tarnish his professional career. They think new swingmen like Iverson and Kobe Bryant are going to run circles around him.

These people forget that Mike is the real blueprint. And he's the one who gave them their game. Everything they do is just a newer version of his old tricks. How hard is it to defend moves you've been doing for years now?

Age does come into play, but think of how long it took you to beat your daddy. Mike may be 38 but many insiders say he has barely lost a step. This includes Darius Miles and Quentin Richardson who worked out with him for the better part of the summer.

With the game's new stars such as Finley, Ray Allen, Iverson, Kobe, Vince Carter and McGrady it will be close to impossible for Jordan to reign supreme as he once did. Jordan will not be the scoring champ. He probably won't be the league MVP. He most likely will not be the defensive player of the year.

Jordan will get his in the scoring column. Mike will be the most valuable player to his team, and these young cats won't put up any type of numbers they want on him.

I am all for Jordan coming back. I don't think it will mess up his legacy one bit. He will shock all the nonbelievers and silence all the "stay in the front office" critics. The bald-headed man will let the basketball world know what time it is when he steps on Madison Square Garden's floor Oct. 30 in the Wizards' first regular season game.

I do feel sorry for Jordan because he has to come back to a below-.500 team. It will be interesting to see how he copes with trying to turn these young players into champions.

The team will improve their record and be over .500 this year, but this will not make Mike happy. Unless they acquire some new, experienced talent during the season, it will be a frustrating year for Jordan.

Chris Whitney is coming back off the injured list to try and regain his starting position as point guard. Whitney will have to step up his game and play a supporting role as Harper did on the Bulls. Newly acquired point guard Tyron Lue from the NBA champions Los Angeles Lakers will use his speed and tenacity to help the Wizards.

Richard Hamilton, who was a bright spot for the Wizards last year, will try to keep improving and add his scoring to the attack. Along with Jordan-favorite Courtney Alexander, these two guys are going to help the Wizards with their all-around play.

Kwame Brown will have a lot pressure on his shoulders to perform at superstar level this year - that just is not going to happen. He will eventually be a great player, but not next year or anytime in the near future.

Brendan Haywood from North Carolina, Etan Thomas from Syracuse, and DePaul's Bobby Simmons round out the rookie class. Haywood will just be a big body to clog things up in the middle. Thomas might add some much needed defense and scoring. And Simmons will be lucky to see much of the floor this year.

These guys should help out Christian Laettner, Jahidi White, and newly re-signed forward Mike Smith on the blocks.

But the team as a whole will need much more help. It is yet to be seen if the new rule on defense, where zone play and illegal defense has been eliminated (the worst rule change in history), will help or hurt the Wizards. To compete with talented and deep teams like the Bucks, 76ers, and the Magic, the Wizards will need more than Jordan to take the Eastern Conference.

I would have never thought that Jordan would come out of his retirement for a second time. I think it is going to be great for the league. It's wonderful that he's donating his salary to the WTC fund. And I am pretty sure that even the people who advise him not to come back will have a tingle when he steps on the hardwood. Just two days after his announcement I saw a young kid with a Wizards jersey that had Jordan's name on the back.

The streets have spoken: Jordan is back.