- The Washington Times - Friday, October 12, 2001

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. For a man many have described as old and who needs to let the new generation step to the fore, Michael Jordan didn't look bad last night.
Jordan marked his return to the NBA as a player for the Washington Wizards last night, scoring eight points on 4-for-8 shooting and grabbing three rebounds in 17 minutes in front of a sellout crowd of 22,076 at the Palace of Auburn Hills. The Pistons, behind 30 points from Jerry Stackhouse, defeated the Wizards 95-85.
But the final score didn't matter. Everyone in the building came to see Jordan, who received a loud ovation. In fact, the game was so unimportant that it was stopped near the end of the first quarter so that the audience could listen to President Bush's address.
"I have to say that it felt good to be out there," Jordan said. "I felt that excitement when I was out there with the young kids. It's good to see a certain look in their eyes. I'm out there having fun. It's real good to be 38 and to be out there with a 19-year-old kid like Kwame Brown.
"I surprised myself because my energy level was high," Jordan continued. "I still have room for improvement in terms of my wind. My legs are coming back. I'm on schedule. It's been three years since I've played an exhibition game and it's going to take some time."
Jordan started the game along with Brown, Richard Hamilton, Chris Whitney and Christian Laettner. After greeting Stackhouse at mid-court, Jordan quickly began filling up the box score.
Jordan scored the Wizards' first four points on a pair of mid-range jumpers. He also demonstrated his old quickness when he quickly positioned himself for a block on Detroit's 6-foot-8 power forward Ben Wallace.
Wallace, who at one time played for the Wizards, returned the favor later in the quarter. Jordan appeared to be racing in for an attempted dunk, but Wallace, easily one of the league's more athletic players, caught Jordan from behind and knocked the ball out of his hands.
Everything Jordan did last night was applauded, from when he first rose from the bench to enter the game to his first basket.
However, the Wizards almost came to town without Jordan in a uniform.
One day earlier Jordan had intended to sit out both last night's game and Saturday's game at Miami. But later in the day sources say it was right before the team boarded the charter from North Carolina Jordan reconsidered and decided to play both games. Although he does have tendinitis in his left knee, Jordan said that was not the reason why he originally intended to sit out the two games. Before he changed his mind, Jordan pointed out that he never played many minutes in the preseason when he was with the Bulls so that the team could get some of the younger players used to playing without him.
"I'm happy that he played," said Wizards coach Doug Collins. Collins only wanted to play Jordan 8 minutes, but Jordan told Collins he felt energized enough to go back into the game. "When I took him out I asked him, `Are you through?' and he said no. He asked to play eight more minutes in the second quarter. There is a time when I'm going to need my starter to give me 30, 35 minutes. We'll keep building to get them ready for the start of the season. That's the goal."
For the Wizards, Hamilton looked like he is ready to take his game to another level. Late last year Hamilton showed that he could almost score at will, and he did so most of last night on his way to 24 points.
Brown, who said he was having trouble getting used to playing the pro game, struggled last night, and it was clear that the 19-year-old is struggling to make the adjustment to the NBA. Brown was at times out of place and through up a few wild shots. He finished with six points and two rebounds.
At one point late in the second quarter, the crowd showed its support for Jordan when he was whistled for a violation that hardly ever gets called in the NBA anymore. While one-on-one against the Pistons' Corliss Williamson, Jordan was called for carrying the ball by referee Steve Javie.
"I've seen a whole lot worse than that watching the games on the sidelines over the years," Jordan laughed. "But it was a veteran referee's call. I respect that."
Last night Jordan had plenty of times to ask himself why he was making his comeback. At one point Jordan found himself on the court with Jahidi White, Popeye Jones and Tyrone Nesby, a lineup that will never be confused with one of the six Chicago teams he led to championships.

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