- The Washington Times - Friday, January 31, 2003

MILWAUKEE Tracy McGrady made the public offer to give up his starting slot to Michael Jordan in next weekend's All-Star Game in Atlanta, but it was Allen Iverson, the oft-ridiculed mercurial guard for the Philadelphia 76ers, who first offered Jordan his spot.
"Allen called me a week and a half ago," Jordan said. "He called me personally. No one knew about it. I told him, 'You go ahead. I'll be there and I look forward to hanging out with you guys.'"
Jordan won't be accepting Iverson's or McGrady's offers of their starting slots; he said yesterday he still wants to come off the bench.
"I take it as a compliment but I would rather for them to play and start and let me come off the bench without any side deals," Jordan said. "I like it just the way it is."
McGrady, the leading vote getter for the East team, has offered his starting position to Jordan. Vince Carter, who has played in just 12 games this year because of injury, said he would not give up his starting slot.
Jordan, who will be playing in his 14th All-Star Game, said he was grateful that both Iverson and McGrady respected him enough to offer their spots, and he said that he felt Carter had been placed in a very difficult position.
"It would be politically correct for those guys to start and for me to come off the bench," Jordan said. "I have no problem with that at all. I'd rather for [McGrady] to start, keep all the ducks in a row and keep everything perfect the way it should be."
Jordan made these statements before last night's game in Milwaukee. He usually doesn't speak before games, but being the ambassador of the league that he has come to be, he seemed relieved to talk freely about the subject.
In recent days the league has come under fire because the actions of both its players and coaches. Portland's Rasheed Wallace was suspended for cursing out a referee, and Indiana's Ron Artest was suspended for making an obscene gesture toward fans and for approaching the Miami Heat bench. And Utah coach Jerry Sloan also recently received a suspension for shoving a referee.
Fully aware of these things, Jordan seemed forthcoming and excited to see the young elite players in the league stepping forward to honor him.
"It shows that they know a lot about the history of the game and the type of people that they are," Jordan said. "It shows that they know a lot about guys who have paved the way. I would have done it for Dr.J. and I'm pretty sure Dr.J. would have done it for someone else."
Carter was in a difficult position because there had been some speculation that he would step aside and allow Jordan to start. However, when asked if he would do that, Carter replied to reporters in Toronto saying, "Next question."
He then added some clarity.
"I'm thankful for the opportunity to play regardless of the amount of games I've played, and that's why I've taken the initiative to get back and get healthy and then play in some games so when I go in the All-Star Game I can go out there and have a lot of fun."
However, his cousin and former teammate, McGrady, took a completely different approach to the situation.
"I have thought about this for a while. I'll do it, absolutely," McGrady told the Orlando Sentinel. "For what Michael Jordan has done for this league and this game, I'll do anything. It's his last All-Star Game. I don't have any problem with that. I'll get in the game. I'd love to see it."
Although the comments made McGrady appear to be far more gracious, Jordan said that Carter was placed in a difficult position.
"It's a Catch-22. If he gives up his spot some people are going to be disappointed," Jordan said. "If he plays some people are going to suggest that he should have given it to me. Even me accepting Tracy or Allen's offer would make Vince look bad. That's not what it's meant to be. Keep it the way it is, there's no bad person in this whole scenario. Vince is doing exactly what the fans suggested. The fans voted them in."

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