- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 23, 2003

PHOENIX Michael Jordan ripped his teammates earlier this month following a hurtful loss to the New York Knicks. Following their most recent loss, he ripped them to shreds.
"All you have to do is show the tape of the whole game," Jordan said after the Wizards opened a make-or-break six-game western trip Friday night with a humiliating 109-83 loss to a Phoenix team that also is scrambling to make the playoffs.
"You guys had to watch it. We should be able to watch it and see how we feel about the game, see if we throw popcorn at the TV or whatever," Jordan told the media. "It's just not fun to be a part of a game like that. Just no emotion, no energy, no continuity, no connection, no motivation, no dignity at all. It's like we're just through with it and we expect to lose this game, expect to lose all the games and we don't want to make anybody mad."
The Wizards also angered coach Doug Collins.
"For us to even look at the scoreboard after a game like this, I hope we look in the mirror," Collins said.
The Wizards (32-36) lost no ground in the race for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot because Milwaukee was pounded by New Orleans 113-98 , leaving Washington one game behind the Bucks.
After the Suns stepped their game up late in the first quarter, the Wizards tucked their tails and disappeared. Trailing 15-11 with 4:48 left, Phoenix closed the quarter with a 15-0 run. The Suns' lead at one point ballooned to 33 points in the second half.
Jordan, who finished with a team-high 14 points, did not absolve himself of blame in a game where Washington was outscored in the paint 60-16. However, it is clear that he is fed up with the Wizards, who have dropped seven of their last 10 games.
According to sources, Jordan scolded the team during halftime. Later, however, he said he was finished with that approach.
"I'm not wasting my breath," Jordan said. "I'll hold on to my breath I can do other things with it. I can have a nice cigar. I'm not going to try to save this team. That's not my job. … We've got young, talented players on this team. If they're going to sit back and think I'm going to score 50 points, they've got a nice little awakening coming up. I'm not going to come out and try to carry this team.
"I'm going to come out and move the ball, and when I give you the ball you shoot it and you score with it," Jordan continued. "And then I'll try to go down, rebound and play defense. Don't expect me to try to put an 'S' on my chest and go out and play for these guys. We've got 14 games left. I'm going to try to go out here and enjoy myself. If you guys want to go out play hard basketball, let's play hard basketball. But if you want to take it off, I can be playing golf somewhere. I can't believe we got paid tonight. They made a push at us, and we just wilted."
During the collapse, there was evidence of the growing discord between Collins and second-year forward Kwame Brown. Brown, who has been grousing about playing time all season, got into a heated conversation with the coach after he was pulled in the first half. During a timeout, assistant coaches Larry Drew and Patrick Ewing Ewing especially were in Brown's face and giving him an earful.
Sources said Jordan directed many of his comments during halftime to Brown, who has shown little development since he was selected out of high school with the first pick in the 2001 draft.
At one point Jordan, who will return to the front office after the season and be in charge of all personnel decisions, sounded as if no one on the Wizards had left him overly impressed and every player could be trade bait.
"It's not like they've done anything. I don't think anybody in here has won a championship other than [Tyronn] Lue, and he was a reserve [for the Los Angeles Lakers]," Jordan said. "Nobody's done anything, and yet they want big dollars. That's not going to fly with me. Everybody wants to be treated the same. Well, everybody's not the same. You don't have 12 Michael Jordans in this locker room, just like we don't have 12 Kwame Browns. Everybody is different. Everybody is going to be treated differently."
Jordan's tirade no doubt was spurred by the growing possibility that the Wizards will fail to make the playoffs in his final season. They have lost four in a row on the road, are 1-8 on the road against Western Conference teams and have five games remaining on this trip.
"The perfect way, the best way for me to go out is to see that someone has the passion for the game that I have, and it doesn't have to be winning," Jordan said. "I don't want it to be losing, but you can lose with passion, you can lose with competitiveness. But you can't lose like this. It's one game, but if this is any indication how the next 14 games are going to be, good Lord, I need to go home quick."

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide