- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 13, 2001

MIAMI Michael Jordan has known for some time he is capable of playing 17 minutes in a game, which is precisely how long he played in the Washington Wizards' preseason opener Thursday against Detroit at the Palace of Auburn Hills.
That's part of the reason why Jordan originally planned to sit it out.
For Jordan, the crucial stretch of his first preseason since 1997 begins a week from Monday. That's when the Wizards' schedule will come close to resembling the lockout-truncated season of 1999, when teams were forced to play three games in three nights at times.
Beginning Oct. 22 the Wizards will face four teams Philadelphia, New Jersey, Toronto and Boston in five nights. Jordan, who expects to play as much as 35 minutes a game during the regular season, plans to play in all of those games. Both he and coach Doug Collins expect to see his minutes increase each outing, with a goal of playing at least 30 minutes when the season begins Oct. 30 at New York.
"Four games in five nights," Jordan pondered aloud. "That's usually a big push on you physically. I look forward to seeing how I respond to that."
For most basketball players coming back from any kind of layoff, the day after the game is the barometer used to gauge physical conditioning. And even though Jordan spent countless hours this summer working out with other players, both Collins and Jordan wondered how he would feel yesterday as the team prepared for tonight's game with Miami.
Jordan's verdict: "My body feels good. I got up and did my normal workout, which included some conditioning and some running."
Collins agreed he would have a better understanding of Jordan's condition. But he's not just concerned with Jordan. Collins wants to make sure that all of the players are ready for the start of the season. To that end, he doesn't want to overextend any one player. The Wizards, with the exception of Tyronn Lue (bruised quadriceps), have managed to stay healthy so far. Lue, who sat out Thursday's game, is listed as day-to-day.
"We'll know a whole lot more where the team is conditioning-wise during that stretch, especially Michael," Collins said. "But in that stretch, four games in five nights, I'm not going to play him like I would in the regular season.
"With Michael the big thing is his experience," Collins continued. "He doesn't waste any emotion; he doesn't waste any energy. One of our guys can be going 90 miles an hour and not getting open. Michael, on the other hand, can go 45 miles per hour and get open. He's just so efficient."
Collins plans on playing Jordan for about 21 minutes tonight, trying to break it up into stretches of about seven minutes at a time. If Lue is available, look for Jordan to play fewer minutes.
Veteran forward Popeye Jones says that it probably won't matter how much Jordan plays during the regular season, and he doesn't believe back-to-back games will hamper Jordan.
Most of Jordan's workouts including training camp took place under a veil of secrecy, but Jones worked out with him in the summer and through all of training camp.
"I don't think it will bother him at all," Jones said. "He moves like a 30-year-old. He's in great condition, and he's physically fit. I think he'll be able to handle it with ease."
Said Jordan: "I've learned to play the game more with my head and less with my body. I still think I can get the job done."

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