- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 11, 2001

WILMINGTON, N.C. The Washington Wizards Michael Jordan in particular yesterday barely avoided what could have been a very ugly public relations mess before the start of the season.
Not long after telling a group of reporters that he planned to skip preseason games today in Detroit and Saturday in Miami, Jordan reconsidered his decision and now will play.
"After making my first announcement earlier today, I realized that many fans purchased tickets for these games to see me in my return," Jordan said in a statement. "I don't want the fans to be disappointed, therefore I will alter my original plans and play in Detroit and Miami."
As of yesterday, the Pistons had sold 19,000 tickets for tonight's game. An official for the Miami Heat said there were about 1,000 tickets remaining for Saturday's game.
Brian McIntyre, a spokesperson for the NBA, said he was not aware of any pressure from the league being placed on Jordan to play.
"Over the years, he has mentioned to me a number of times how he is aware of how people want to see him play," McIntyre said. "I know he takes that responsibility personally. He wants people to be satisfied whenever they leave a game that he's played in. I'm sure he just reconsidered."
Jordan will start both games and play limited minutes, perhaps not even a full quarter.
Earlier in the day, Jordan made it perfectly clear that he and coach Doug Collins had decided before the team's intrasquad scrimmage Tuesday that he would sit out the first two preseason games. Before he changed his mind, Jordan also said he would have played in one of the games had they been in a town that doesn't have an NBA team, such as Grant Rapids, Mich., where the Wizards play their third preseason game next week.
"I opted not to play the first two games," Jordan said following the team's morning practice. "Doug is really trying to get a good feel for the guys that he's working with. He wants to get guys like Kwame [Brown] and Bobby [Simmons] some minutes. He knows what I'm capable of doing."
Jordan, 38, said he is not hurt. And following yesterday's practice, Jordan, who does have tendinitis in his left knee, did not have ice on his knees, which he frequently does following practices or games.
There is the possibility that Jordan might have been pushing himself too hard in training camp, which ended yesterday. Collins intended to have Jordan practice just once as opposed to the two-a-day sessions the team conducts during camp. However, Jordan skipped just two of the 16 practices the team held here.
"That put a little bit of a strain on me physically, trying to do both," Jordan said. "I was trying to rush myself into shape. I was a little bit tired. When I'm going through those two practices, the next day I feel it and I'm not getting the same type of productivity. I want to be crisp each and every practice. So I'll cut it back to just one practice a day."
This is nothing new for Jordan. When he led the Chicago Bulls to titles in 1996, 1997 and 1998, he practiced just once a day during training camp.
"When I went back to one a day back then, I always felt fresh the next day," Jordan said. "As much as my mind wants to say I'm 28, my body says, 'Hey, you're 38. Make sure you monitor that a little closely.' I have to be very patient. This is a very important time for me not to overdo it. I'm going to have plenty of time to go out on the basketball court and showcase what I have."

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