- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 9, 2001

Michael Jordan remains in the gray world of 99.9 percent.

He is one-tenth of a percent certain that he will be playing in the NBA next season, possibly with the new-look Wizards in Tony Cheng's neighborhood.

The new look comes with a walking cane and a case of Geritol, if the gossip is accurate, which is: Patrick Ewing at center, Charles Barkley at power forward, Scottie Pippen at small forward and Ron Harper and Jordan at the guard spots.

The average age of the lineup is Methuselah, who lived to be 969 years.

Jordan is 99.9 percent certain that Barkley is struggling to slim down to 260 pounds. Barkley makes two power forwards at the moment, three if you count his mouth.

From his extra-large seat in the Turner Sports studio, Barkley put a bag over his head during the Knicks-Raptors series. He must have been practicing for next season with the Wizards.

As usual, Washington is at odds with the prevailing trend around the NBA, looking to hold an old-timers game next season, 82 of them, in fact.

Youth, meanwhile, is being served in these playoffs, judging by the emergence of Vince Carter and what the Mavericks did to the Jazz and what the Lakers did to Bob Whitsitt's collection of has-beens.

Even Detlef Schrempf was confused in Portland, Ore., grumbling about minutes, perhaps indicating the early onset of Alzheimer's disease.

Most NBA teams try to take it one game at a time. The Wizards are hoping to take it one prostate examination at a time.

When the Wizards talk runs next season, they will be referring to the runs in their support hose. They will have the usual concerns of ankle sprains and twisted knees to go along with their bouts of rheumatism and high-blood pressure.

Washington is all aflutter anyway, undoubtedly because 19-63 was the alternative this season.

Doug Collins is the new coach of the team who makes a good announcer with NBC. At least he and Barkley are in a position to share talking points, if not analyze whether the label underneath Marv Albert's network armor comes from Hanes or Victoria's Secret.

Jordan prefers Hanes, of course, of which he is 100 percent certain, and Luc Longley, who is collecting dust in New York, is trying to clean himself up.

This is not to dismiss the potential availability of Bill Cartwright and John Paxson.

Jordan apparently has done a 180 since his highly publicized demand in Chicago to play for the Zen master or Dean Smith, which is a good thing. Jordan is better at playing for coaches than picking them, considering how it worked out with Rod Higgins, Darrell Walker, Mike Jarvis and Leonard Hamilton.

In a desperate move to pique interest, the NBA is embracing the zone defense next season, including the 2-1-2, 1-3-1 and five-guys-on-Shaq ploy.

There goes Barkley's best move, the butt-bump maneuver, intended to bruise the defender and put everyone else to sleep.

Barkley and Pippen even might try to, you know, get along, which they failed to do in Houston.

Pippen has six championship rings, three lost seasons since leaving Chicago, one migraine headache and a 1.8-second gap in his career. Otherwise, he is the best caddy there ever was in the NBA, and he still has an incredibly prominent nose for the ball.

Ewing became a rumor in Seattle this season, which beat being Jeff Van Ankle Weight's fall guy in New York. The Knicks can't blame the Raptors on Ewing, which leaves Charlie Ward's theology lesson and the nut who took Marcus Camby's family hostage.

Steve Kerr is hoisting up 3-pointers in San Antonio, and Will Perdue probably could be lured from Portland, which leaves only you-know-who, the Illustrated Man, the man who threatened to legally change his name to Orgasm, the one and only Rainbow Head, who is 99.9 percent uncertain each day of the week and twice on Sunday.

Better yet, Dennis Rodman is ambidextrous. He can head-butt you or kick you in the groin, and he turns only 40 years old this Sunday.

By Washington's basketball standards, Rodman should be ready to go next season.

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