The Bull Penn: MJ's no Wiz kid, but I don't care


Oct. 11, 2001, midnight | By Ben Penn | 22 years, 8 months ago

Though he'll never be the same, returning legend will still be great for D.C.


I know this is difficult, but I'm going to use my imagination, down a tall glass of Gatorade and pretend I'm Michael Jordan.

If I were in Michael's shoes I would opt to continue wearing the shiny black wingtips appropriate for my job as Wizards' president rather than lace up my old signature sneaks for a return to basketball.

After all, the critics are right. What have I got to prove? I walked off the court for the last time in '98 after draining the last- second shot to win my sixth NBA championship. Why would I want to risk tarnishing the perfect ending to a perfect career? Iverson, Kobe, Vince, Stevie Francis (I had to throw a Blazer in there) are all waiting to dunk on my 38-year-old body.

Plus, I got so caught up in my pursuit of a comeback that I nearly forgot my other job as Wizards' head of basketball operations. The Wizards are a young, inexperienced, rebuilding squad with some talent. The bald, middle-aged team executive can't just hop out of the owner's box and put on a uniform a la Corbin Bernsen in Major League II.

The Wizards' youth will now suffer through two seasons of watching me stick out my tongue for the cameras while they stand in the corner waiting eternally for me to pass them the ball. Best case scenario: I take us to the playoffs, we lose in the first round, I go into my third retirement and my stunted team starts again from scratch.

Okay, I'm back to being Ben again. I'll now take the far easier role of the average D.C.-area sports fan—a part I have performed since the day I was born with a giant foam finger covering my hand. I believe that by deciding to come back, Mike is making a huge mistake, both for himself and for the Wizards. But MJ's issues are inconsequential to me. In fact, I want to take the time to thank Mikey, because his return will provide the most excitement the sports world has seen in years, and I plan to sit back, relax and enjoy every minute of it.

All those super-critical area sports analysts need to lighten up and relish the rare opportunity of having Michael in our own backyard. They all say that Michael Jordan will no longer be the same flawless athlete who averaged 31.5 points per game over 13 seasons. Probably not, but I would much rather watch the legendary Jordan put up an earthlike 20 points a night than see Shaq stick 40 on a big, stiff center.

And if Jordan wants to hurt his team in the long run, that's his decision. I've never been a diehard Wizards fan, so I have no problem disregarding the fact that two of the Wizards' most promising youngsters, Richard Hamilton and Courtney Alexander, play the same position as His Airness. I, Joe Fan, see that as a small price to pay to watch Jordan in action again.

The last time people were excited about the Wizards was when Juwan Howard and Chris Webber made their Bullets debut in '95. But that wore off after a couple of games when everyone realized that the Bullets were the same awful team transformed into an overpaid awful team. MJ, on the other hand, isn't some Happy Meal toy that gradually becomes less entertaining the more you play with it.

This city needs the buzz that Jordan creates. Without Mike's return, the Post's sports section would consist only of page after page lamenting the Redskins' woes. Then, for the next several months after the end of the football season, the spotlight would be on the countdown to Redskins training camp.

The entire country will have its eyes glued to the television when Michael and the Wizards open the season Oct 30 against the New York Knicks. But many of those enthralled viewers will still be concerned that Jordan might be making a mistake. Michael Jordan and the Wizards may suffer their own personal consequences from this move, but it's our duty as fans to put aside our doubts and enjoy the show.



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Ben Penn. Ben Penn, a senior in the Communication Arts Program, is thrilled to be taking on the role of managing sports editor for Silver Chips. While holding the position of page editor last year, Ben is proud to say that he was the only person on … More »

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