- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 21, 2001

Michael Jordan is the bygone era of the NBA who is attempting to negotiate a favorable surrender to Father Time.
Washington is all too eager to host the capitulation, Tony Cheng's neighborhood in particular, if the turnout last night is an indication.
They filled the place in Jordan's preseason debut at home, and no fudging or new math was necessary. They no longer check hope at the door on Fun Street. They no longer count the dead either.
The nearly dead used to wear the uniform of the Wizards, sometimes with their shorts on backward, the fashion statement that went with Rod Strickland's hiccups.
Jordan is in charge of the feel-good buzz, aided by the No. 1 pick in the draft, the former lead analyst with NBC and the Hamilton not named Leonard.
The home crowd, elated to be back in the NBA, stayed awake for a change. It was a good decision. Jordan finished with 41 points and six rebounds in 33 minutes, delivering a third quarter from the past. He scored 16 points in the period, two by a dunk, his first in the preseason. He also hit back-to-back 3-pointers, looking resolute, looking better and better with each preseason game. The Wizards, meanwhile, looked as inept as ever, falling to the Nets 102-95.
Jordan scored mostly on a variety of jump shots, one of the concessions to his age and three-year layoff.
If Jordan is a fraction of his for-mer self, the fraction just might be better than the whole of most players in the NBA. The judgment will come in incremental stages, in the bits and pieces of an 82-game schedule. Preseason is hardly an appropriate venue to evaluate a player who once owned June. Preseason is the time for Kwame Brown to learn the hard way. Brown, incidentally, is going to be a good one, although long after Jordan has wagged his tongue for the last time.
Jordan plans to teach those around him, starting with Brown, who recently twisted an ankle that was diagnosed as less than mild by Jordan and no cause to sit out.
Like Jordan, Bob Cousy came out of retirement to be a teacher, six years after the fact in Cousy's case. Cousy lasted seven games as a player. His stint as a coach was not significantly better, as a .403 lifetime winning percentage attests.
Certain truths are fixed. Jordan is up to 38 years old, a fossil by basketball standards, and doesn't he know it. He won't walk on water this season, or dunk from the foul line, mostly because his legs are not what they once were. Pistons forward Corliss Williamson made this point following the opening preseason game. He might as well have attacked the pope, however obvious the assessment.
It is impolite to note that Kobe Bryant does a better impression of the younger Jordan than the older Jordan. Bryant even has adopted Jordan's mannerisms. Bryant probably would want Ahmad Rashad to be his lap dog if Rashad weren't already occupied. All NBA superstars aspire to have the same status-confirming material goods: enough fancy wheels to fill a warehouse, enough jewelry to blind their entourages and one well-trained Rashad.
Bryant is the present and future, Jordan the past and a fraction of his former self.
Jordan apparently has made an uneasy peace with these deflating truths. He is not what he once was but still darn good, while the team is begging to be ignored.
To look at it another way, Jordan played about as well as anyone could expect, and the Wizards still managed to lose at home to the Nets, a 26-56 team last season.
What does that tell you? Watch Jordan this season. Try not to watch the wins and losses.
An aside to Christian Laettner: Don't stay at one end of the floor to whine while the other nine players have moved to the opposite end. Shut your mouth. Hustle back on defense. It is that simple.
Jordan changed into his cape and tights at halftime and tried to inspire the Wizards. He tried to do it all, and almost did. There was some special stuff from Jordan and the same old stuff from the team.
It seemed almost like old times for Jordan, except for the loss.

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