- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 26, 2001

It's all good.
That's the general consensus among fans and local basketball experts about the return of Michael Jordan to the NBA and the Washington Wizards. Word of His Airness landing on MCI Center's hardwood has ignited a sense of excitement about professional basketball that is unprecedented in the area.
"The greatest player ever is coming back to D.C.," said Keith Parham, a college student from the District. "It's a great day. I've been waiting for him to say he's coming back."
Parham was thrilled to hear of Jordan's return announcement yesterday after he arrived at the Silver Spring Metro Station last night. He was not alone.
"I'm excited to see him play," said Adisa Bakare, a 24-year old leasing agent from Silver Spring. "It's definitely going to put more people in the seats. They'll be watching more than just the [owner's] box [where Jordan was last season]. They'll be watching the actual game."
Though Jordan suiting up has created a buzz, it has not led to much optimism overall about the Wizards. Few expect Jordan to transform a perennially-losing franchise to a championship-caliber one.
Fans also don't think Jordan is risking his stellar playing legacy, the final image of which previously was the winning shot in the Chicago Bulls' sixth NBA title three years ago.
"I don't know if he can really hurt his legend too much," Bakare said. "I don't want to see him get hurt. I don't want him to embarrass himself. And I don't think he would come back if he thought that would happen."
However, there are a few that are more pessimistic about the 38-year-old taking on the young guns. Mark Shaw doesn't know if the aging Jordan will match up with current NBA stars like the Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant or Philadelphia's Allen Iverson.
"I don't think he is going to be the same as he was before," said Shaw, a 25-year-old construction worker. "There are different players in the NBA now that are good like him."
That is a minority opinion. Those in the basketball community see virtually no downside to the return of No. 23.
"He's already established himself as the greatest player ever," said Morgan Wootten, the legendary coach at DeMatha High School in Hyattsville. "The thing I love about him is he still shows the love of the game. His passion will be a great inspiration for all players, whether in high school or college."
Said Maryland coach Gary Williams: "If you still have the itch and the ability to play, why not? He's really doing the franchise a favor. People going to the games will be rooting for the Wizards and not the visiting franchise, which hasn't always been the case. As a fan, I'm glad he's coming back. It's a chance for another group of people to watch the greatest player."
George Mason coach Jim Larranaga feels Jordan's reputation will only be enhanced in his second comeback, but cautions not to expect miracles from the Wizards with one superstar.
"His legend will grow," Larranaga said. "I think he is as committed to basketball as any athlete has been at any time in any sport. He will elevate the people around him. The only concern I would have is fans having unrealistic expectations of what he can do for the franchise. This is a different time and he has different personnel than he had in Chicago. The Wizards are in a rebuilding mode. Getting Michael is huge, but they are going to need more to be a competitive, playoff team."
Catholic University coach Mike Lonergan recently bid on Wizards' tickets at a silent auction, secretly hoping to see Jordan. He is a big Jordan fan, though he is unsure whether Jordan should play again.
"I'm kind of torn," said Lonergan, the coach of the Division III national champions. "I kind of liked the way he went out, and can't see that kind of ending again. I think he will still be one of the three best players in the league though I worry about the supporting cast."
Lonergan echoed the feeling of many fans: He's ecstatic to see Jordan back, but has little anticipation of Jordan turning the Wizards into a team that can go deep into the playoffs if they even get there.
Back at the Silver Spring Metro, Adisa Bakare summed it up this way:
"They probably won't make the playoffs this year, but they'll win twice as many games as last year."

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