- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 1, 2001

Seen and heard last night at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami:
STRICKLAND REVISITED For a good part of the last five seasons, Rod Strickland was one of the most star-crossed players in the Wizards' organization. After being bought out of the last year of his contract, Strickland probably thought he was doing the right thing when he signed with the Heat, who have made the playoffs for the last six seasons. But now he finds himself on a team that is looking up at the Wizards in the standings. Miami came to town having lost 10 games in a row.
"It's real tough, real tough," he said. "Hopefully, we can work ourselves out of it, but it's tough, trust me. We had two real bad years in D.C., so coming here I wasn't thinking it would be like this."
However, don't think Strickland isn't happy to be in Miami and away from Washington. "It's like night and day," said Strickland, who has missed six games this season because of hamstring troubles. "I think the organization is first class here." Strickland came into the game averaging 7.3 points and 4.6 assists for the struggling Heat.
As for the Wizards, Strickland has no regrets about his departure. In essence, it was a bad situation that had to end, and the presence of Michael Jordan wouldn't have made a bit of difference.
"I think it was time to go regardless of who came in. Just the way things were, MJ or whoever, it wasn't going to be a good situation for me," Strickland said.
Even though Strickland had some rough times with the Wizards, he still thinks they are headed in the right direction because of Jordan. "They'll win more games than we won last year [19] just because of him," Strickland said. "But there is no quick fix there. Some people felt that way, but there's no quick fix there. But I do believe that MJ is going to get it done. At some point, they'll be a hot spot."
Heat coach Pat Riley believes that once Strickland rounds into shape he'll be more able to help the team get headed in the right direction.
"The first week he was here, there was a lot of optimism, and then he got hurt," Riley said. "He's lost a lot of conditioning. Since then, it's been an uphill battle. When he gets there he'll help us, but he has to shoot better."
PASS ON BARKLEY Not that they could afford to sign him even if they wanted to they would have to pay him at least $1 million, and they are already too close to the projected luxury tax trigger of $52.1 million but the Wizards have no interest in Charles Barkley. Barkley told HBO'S "Real Sports" that he was interested in playing for the Wizards this season.
"You gotta love Charles," coach Doug Collins said with a laugh. "He's always going to create a reaction somehow."
Then Collins turned serious about Barkley, who retired two years ago. "He's had too many injuries," Collins said. "Back, knee that takes its toll on you."
John N. Mitchell

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