- The Washington Times - Friday, March 2, 2001

Goodbye, Rod Strickland.

It was fun while it lasted.

You once asked a police officer: Do you know who I am?

That is an easy one.

You are the point guard with the glassy eyes and hiccups. You are the point guard trying to walk a straight line on the side of the road. You are the point guard with the knockdown breath and toxic blood alcohol level.

You are one of a kind.

So long. Farewell. Auf Wiedersehen. Good night.

God bless you, Rod, and God bless America.

Pass the tissue. Washington is misty-eyed. As Neil Sedaka says, breaking up is hard to do.

In many ways, it was a big misunderstanding. You did not quit on Michael Jordan and the team this season. You have a boo-boo on your hamstrings. You just try to touch the tip of your nose with both fingers and see how your hamstrings feel.

It never was as simple as it could have been.

Here's the ball. There's the court.

Why are you wearing the front of your shorts in the back? Is that the new style, the anti-fashion response to baggy shorts? Cute. Nice. Would you mind going to Milan and Paris to show the look?

Strike that last question. That would mean setting your alarm clock, and that was not one of your strengths, as much as everyone hates to mention it.

You were pretty good with the 24-second clock. You were lousy with the 60-second clock.

Sorry. This is not to dwell on the past. The past is the past, as Scott Norwood said the season after missing the game-winning field goal in Super Bowl XXV.

Instead, here's a toast to your new beginning. Is that shaken or stirred?

You are OK, Tony Cheng's neighborhood is OK, and Jordan is OK. No blood, no foul. No Breathalyzer test, no case.

You showed Jordan after he promised to impose his will on you.

The word between the lines from Jordan was: "Uncle."

Plus, as if to demonstrate there were no hard feelings, you earned a $2.5 million parting gift from the team.

By the way, have you received a congratulatory e-mail from Gar Heard yet? You and Gar made quite a couple. He is old school. You are from the school of incorrigibility, and doesn't Tracy Murray know that. He felt your pain. It resulted in stitches.

They are going to miss you at the Republic Gardens on U Street. Do you think they will retire your glass and hang it from the ceiling?

When you think of all the friends you are leaving behind the bartenders, police officers, attorneys you have to be hurting a little on the inside.

That is what the basketball public does not understand. That is the side of you that few see. If you can improve the quality of life of just one bartender with a huge tip, then all the arrests are worth it.

Life is funny. People look at the team's 13-45 record, the second-worst in the NBA, and see the glass as being .224 percent full. How shallow is that, the thinking as well as the .224 percent?

Barbra Streisand, one of the far-left kooks in Hollywood, puts it best: "Memories light the corners of my mind, misty water-colored memories of the way we were. Scattered pictures of the smiles we left behind, smiles we gave to one another for the way we were."

Of course, she also claimed that Andre Agassi was a Zen master, and there is only one Zen master, and he is dating the owner's daughter.

Sadly, Rod, no one ever was intrigued by your Yin and Yang, only your proclivity to swerve in a dangerous fashion. You know the drill: the vehicle registration slip, the driver's license and the directive to step out of the car.

In Rod, Washington trusted, except behind the wheel of a car.

What else is there to say?

You will be missed, and hopefully, the seasons ahead will be more pleasant than the ones in Washington.

Washington won't have you around to arrest any longer, and no matter what they say, they can't take that away from you.

Take care, old buddy.

See you down the road. Oops. That just is an expression.

Washington assumes you will be on the side of the road, near the flashing red lights.


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