- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 4, 2001

WILMINGTON, N.C. When Michael Jordan made his latest return to the court, he relinquished his formal role as the person in charge of the daily operations of the franchise. That job, which includes trading and drafting players, now belongs to Wes Unseld.
Unseld maintained his title as general manager under Jordan, formerly he team's part owner and president of basketball operations, and was closely involved in finalizing deals made under Jordan like trading Juwan Howard and drafting Kwame Brown. Unseld said majority owner Abe Pollin will continue to have final say on all of the Wizards' decisions and indicated that Jordan will still be a major influence.
"I've personally been doing the day-to-day operations anyway," Unseld said.
For many years in the NBA, front office managers have sought the input of their best players on trades and draft decisions. During his playing days, Unseld said Pollin often consulted with him before the team made such moves, and he made it clear that he will pick Jordan's brain often. However, it is against league rules for a player to be directly involved in the day-to-day operations of a team.
"I can talk to Michael about advice and what we're going to do," Unseld said. "It happened when I was a player. I was often consulted. We can do those things. But the bottom line is that we will consult whoever we have to consult to make the best decision."
Jordan made it clear that he has given up the title of president of basketball operations. However, Jordan will revert to his previous role if he returns to the front office and it is almost a given that he will.
"Obviously, everybody knows that at some point in time, when Michael is finished [playing], I'm sure his role is to come back as president and owner," coach Doug Collins said.
But that is still a few seasons away. Jordan said he expects to play at least two more years, which means he would retire at 40.
"Obviously, I can't be management and employee," Jordan said. "Mr. Pollin has given me the chance to be involved in some of the decision making in terms of players and things of that nature and I will give my two cents. But at the end of the day it's going to be his call, as well as Wes Unseld's call. That is how we have to do that, and I'm not here to try to break any rules. I knew that once I gave up my title as president of basketball operations, I couldn't run the basketball team any more, but I can give my opinion and that is exactly what I will do."
Assistant general manager Rod Higgins, who played with Jordan and was hired by Jordan before last season, will work closely with Unseld. Collins, another Jordan hire, just wants to coach.
"The one thing that Michael has let me know is that he wants me to coach the team," Collins said.
Known for his intensity in previous stops in Chicago where he coached Jordan and Detroit, Collins, who was fired from both jobs, said he is confident that Jordan won't attempt to undermine his decisions.
"That won't be a problem, not at all," Collins said. "He understands that I know the game, that I know how to teach it. I think more than anything else he feels like I'm going to take a lot of pressure off of him. There will obviously be dialogue. Michael's got a whole lot to say, and I sure want to hear it. But he knows that if he had to try to do both, it would eventually wear him down."

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