- The Washington Times - Friday, June 1, 2001

Doug Collins is with NBC, Michael Jordan is with a bag of golf clubs and Charles Barkley is with a dietitian.

Meanwhile, the 19-63 Wizards have the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft later this month.

Welcome to Tony Cheng's neighborhood, where the NBA franchise and the Peking duck require similar prerequisites, notably a strong fork and stomach.

Dennis Rodman, who claims to be a victim of neighbors with sensitive ears, is warming up with a 40th birthday party. He's good for a couple of rebounds and a ton of legal paperwork, along with an XXX-rating if he keeps his promise and plays his last NBA game in the nude.

This is the Fun Street version of "The Over the Hill Gang," Part Deux.

This also is an interesting way to run a franchise, with a cell phone in one hand and a golf club in the other and uncertainty all around.

The Wizards can build for the future or call Clyde Drexler to see how he is feeling. Jordan is up against two competing agendas: his player self and his front-office self. What's best for one may not be best for the other.

At least Collins is not crying yet, although he is hanging out with Marv Albert. That is enough to make most people cry, especially if Albert has an urge to bite.

Collins, who routinely flooded the Detroit River while he was the coach of the Pistons, is bound to rue the day he answered Jordan's distress signal.

It took Leonard Hamilton only 82 games to come down with a severe case of house husbandry. It won't take Collins nearly that long to activate his tear ducts.

The Wizards are working out their potential No. 1 picks this week, which is a start. Shane Battier is not on the short list, which merits a pat on the back, if you consider the source.

The previous all-Galaxy players from Durham, N.C., turned out to be Christian Laettner, Danny Ferry and Johnny Dawkins in the NBA. That is not a legacy. That is an indictment.

Elton Brand, another ex-flavor of the moment from Durham, led the resurgent Bulls to a 15-67 mark this season.

The NBA Draft is not a science, just a mystery, and fortunately, the Wizards can relate.

Vince Carter was taken with the fifth pick and Dirk Nowitzki with the ninth pick in the 1998 draft, Tracy McGrady with the ninth pick in 1997, Kobe Bryant with the 13th pick in 1996 and Kevin Garnett with the fifth pick in 1995.

That is a 60-win team, even if Sam Perkins is the sixth man and Jeff Van Ankle Weight the coach.

But who knew then and who knows now?

That goes double for the Wizards.

It is just their luck, after their nondescript run in the '80s and '90s, not to have a Shaquille O'Neal or a Tim Duncan in the talent pool.

The Wizards are where the Clippers were in 1998, and not to insult the Clippers by connecting the Wizards to them.

His name turned out to be Michael Olowokandi, and if you are wondering, the No. 1 pick from the 1998 draft is still around as a reminder of what can go wrong.

Richard Hamilton and Courtney Alexander have passed the initial inspection, for what it is worth, and it was worth the 27th-best record in the 29-team NBA.

Mitch Richmond is all packed up with nowhere to go, and Laettner, who dropped into town for a cup of coffee, is expected to land with his sixth team after eight seasons in the NBA.

Chris Webber, who is 7-17 in the playoffs after eight seasons in the NBA, is not in the mood to return to Washington, even if Jordan is in a uniform instead of a suit. You can't blame him. Returning to the scene of a crime is never smart.

In a positive development, Barkley is down to 290 pounds, and you'll just have to take his word on it.

You can throw out the record books in Barkley's case. You do not throw out the diet books.

His rebounding ability is secondary to his ability to push away a second helping of mashed potatoes going into the draft. Should the Wizards go big or small, because Barkley covers big, and then some?

Jordan has a lot to consider in the weeks ahead, starting with the occasional bad lie, 99.9 percent of which result in difficult shots.

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