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TheKid
08-13-2001, 09:26 AM
Van Gundy: Jordan 'definitely' back

By Ian O'Connor, Gannett News Service

Michael Jordan will be inside Madison Square Garden on Oct. 30, in uniform, lighting up the stage in his Sinatra and Elvis way. "That's a definite," Jeff Van Gundy declares, and the coach who has suffered most at the altar of this not-so-false god doesn't need any fresh comeback report to tell him what his heart already knew.

"You don't schedule the Wizards at New York on opening night by the computer," Van Gundy says.

No, you schedule it under the laws of common sense. Jordan in the Garden has forever made for the very best basketball theater, and though the world's youngest 38-year-old shooting guard has maintained he'll finally disclose his intentions next month, one league executive said he believes Jordan could announce his return today.

It's not a question of if anymore, but when. Barring another reminder from his rib cage that even genius is subject to flesh and bone frailties, Jordan will indeed step down from his executive suite to play for the Wizards, perhaps in a small concession to age as a small forward.

"He's definitely coming back, and I think it's great," Van Gundy says. "I never bought into the idea that he had to leave a certain way. But I believe greatness like his, which has never been matched before, should play all the way through for one team. It will be very hard seeing him in another uniform. It will be like Patrick (Ewing), except that we're talking about a different level of greatness."

A level Van Gundy beheld from the wrong side of the floor. As an assistant he watched this raging Bull crash through the administrations of Stu Jackson, John MacLeod, Pat Riley and Don Nelson; Jordan survived more Knicks coaches than Fidel Castro survived American presidents.

As the head coach, Van Gundy stoked Jordan's flame like his bigger-name predecessors hadn't, suggesting before one game that Jordan "cons" opponents into believing he's their friend comments that inspired Jordan to score 51 points and to shout obscenities into the losing coach's face.

This distinguished history of woe qualifies Van Gundy as a leading Jordan scholar. So on the weekend his team president, Scott Layden, acquired in Shandon Anderson and Howard Eisley two more Knicks who can't mark Michael, Van Gundy is asked how good this new/old Jordan will be.

"I think he'll be one of the top 10 players in the league," he says.

Not the best?

"Some nights yes, but the question is whether he can do it consistently. He knows he'll return at a very high level, but nobody can be away 3 years and come back with the same consistency."

How much will Michael improve the Wizards?

"Jordan can get them from 19 wins to making the playoffs."

Can Michael be as valuable as Shaq? "He may not be as dominant as Shaq, just because Shaq's such a physically imposing presence. But certainly Michael will play at that level at times."

Can Michael be as good as Kobe?

"He'll be able to play Kobe straight up and get the better of him, but again, on how many nights? That's what he's trying to gauge. The challenge will be defensively. It just gets harder and harder to defend as you get older. And the mental part with the older players the drive, the commitment always goes before the physical part."

There's no sign that Michael's mental part is half as gone as Jerry Krause's Bulls. In fact, he's back to running that same old scam. According to a report in the Chicago Sun-Times, Jordan has booked his own Five-Star Invitational for the near future, asking Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady, Stephon Marbury, Antoine Walker and Ray Allen to meet him in Chicago for a little summer run.

Call it Camp Con. Like a spider coaxing flies into its web, Jordan has convinced these younger guns to show him their strengths and flaws in the most up-close and personal way.

"I'm a big admirer of Jordan's shrewdness," Van Gundy says. "Opening night with him will be off the charts. The buzz will make it like a Finals game."

All that's left is Jordan's announcement sometime between today and next month. The last time he came out of retirement, Jordan released this equally dramatic and arrogant statement: "I'm back."

This time around, those two words are hardly needed. Camp Con tells you that Jordan will be playing the Garden on Halloween eve, wearing a brand-new costume but delivering his standard tricks and treats.

Murphy3
08-14-2001, 09:04 AM
the wizard instantly become my favorite team...
behind dallas and the cavs

TheKid
08-14-2001, 09:05 AM
The Cavs, I still find that amazing that you like them. You've been hurting for a while then if you're a fan of theirs. They haven't been good since Harp, Price, Dougherty and Brandon was coming off the bench.

#41
08-14-2001, 11:40 AM
Wizards getting closer to the Mavs on my favourites than I ever thought. Even closer than with JH!

#41
08-14-2001, 11:42 AM
What do you think which number he's gonna take? I guess 23. For some of you this may sound stuopid, I dunno....