- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 13, 2000

If Leonard Hamilton had turned the Wizards down, then it might have been time for Michael Jordan to move on to high school coaches.
Hamilton is ready, willing and able to go where Mike Jarvis would not the NBA's elephant graveyard known as the Washington Wizards. Not only he is willing to take the job he'll even pay money to do it.
Hamilton will pay the University of Miami $1 million to release him from the seven-year contract extension he signed in April. He will make about $2 million a year for five years to coach the Wizards $1.25 million a year more than he would make in Miami.
That means for the first year, Hamilton will be making only $250,000 more to coach this team. That's cruel and unusual economic punishment. Couldn't Abe Pollin at least get Hamilton one of those tax breaks Pollin loves so much?
Maybe Hamilton can take a $1 million deduction on his tax returns under charitable contributions.
I love Leonard Hamilton already, no matter what he does with the Wizards, and I don't expect much. How can you not love someone who would be willing to pay $1 million for the chance to coach this team?
They can't find people willing to pay money to come watch the team, and this guy will pay to coach it? That sounds like masochism to me. But then, I don't really know the man.
Those who do say Hamilton has been drawn to challenges all of his life and is the kind of man who is used to being told he was about to enter a tough situation.
He was the first black player at Gaston (N.C.) Community College, the first black player at the University of Tennessee-Martin and the first black assistant coach at the University of Kentucky.
Hamilton turned Oklahoma State into a winning program, and what he did at Miami is a small miracle. There was no basketball program at Miami to speak of when he arrived there in 1990. There had literally been no basketball at all a few years before, and when Hamilton took the job, they were members of the Big Nothing, with no following and no campus arena.
Last year the Hurricanes were co-champions of the Big East, with a 23-11 record their sixth straight winning season and their third consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament. Hamilton led the Hurricanes to the first Sweet 16 appearance in school history.
Miami is in the national spotlight, and plans are in the works for a new arena on campus. Hamilton was Miami basketball.
That, though, was a small miracle.
Turning around the Wizards is a big one. How big? Just south of water-into-wine territory.
All of Hamilton's friends, apparently, have told him he must be crazy to make this move. Even Jack Ramsey was quoted as saying the Wizards job will chew him up.
Hamilton says serve me up, baby. I'll even pay the tip.
A totally different issue is whether the Wizards should have courted Hamilton in the first place. As noble and successful a career Hamilton has had, this is not Larry Brown we are talking about. He has no pro basketball track record.
So was it really worth going through all this when the Wizards had in place a perfectly acceptable coach to get them through the rough waters for the next few years in Darrell Walker?
This is a team that is at least three years away from making a playoff appearance. You have to ask, why go on this search an embarrassing search for a franchise that is pretty difficult to embarrass for a coach when the field is not strong right now? Why not keep Walker in place until a coach with a proven track record is available?
I know we can't expect Jordan to turn around this laughingstock of a franchise right away, but I think it is reasonable to expect he wouldn't make the joke funnier. He botched the firing of Gar Heard, couldn't hire Rod Higgins to coach and then was rejected by Jarvis.
If they made an IMAX film about Jordan's career as a basketball executive, it might be called "the Internship of Michael Jordan" or "18 holes with Mike."
If Leonard Hamilton can turn this team into a winner, IMAX won't have a big enough screen to put an accomplishment of that magnitude on film.

Hamilton announcement still on hold.

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