- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 4, 2002

Michael Jordan is back in the starting lineup, the Wizards back in the netherworld of the NBA.
Jordan is out of seasons, the Wizards out of ideas.
A visit from the perennially inert Bucks was helpful, if only for a night, by a 103-78 margin in favor of the Wizards.
Jordan, with 25 points and seven rebounds in 30 minutes, did his part last night to ease the sense of desperation that has come to Fun Street in the first week of December. The desperation is the unexpected accompaniment of Jerry Stackhouse, Larry Hughes and Bryon Russell. The team's 45-to-50-win season is in jeopardy, along with a spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
The best teams in the Eastern Conference are not following the preseason script. Six teams are on a fiftysomething-win pace, four more than the two that managed to reach that modest barometer of excellence last season. The Pacers are the biggest surprise in the East, and a boon to the quality-of-life aspirations of coach Isiah Thomas. He was on the Dr. Jack Kevorkian-like watch list at the start of the season, along with Sidney Lowe, since departed, and John Lucas, soon to be departed. Hubie Brown just looks dead, as the dead man coaching who is 1-0 against the Wizards.
None of this is good news to the Wizards, expected to be a surprise. As it turns out, the surprise is on them. The laughs, too.
Nothing seemingly excites the flabby set like a floor-bound icon. Jordan has done something wrong in Washington, just not certain what the wrong is. The team won 19 games two seasons ago, the standard before Jordan came out of retirement a second time.
Shocking as it has been to some, Jordan is as susceptible to the forces of Father Time as everyone else. That never should have been the issue. He is not what he once was. He is not even what he was before the All-Star Game last season. He is only fairly good on most nights. Yet somehow, he is foolish, misguided, a bane on the franchise, and a couple of other negatives as well.
Dying young is said to be a good career move for icons. Their images are forever frozen, just as the empty-headed like it, plus placed on a one-time-offer-only, limited-edition plate. You can't beat a limited-edition plate. Sometimes it all comes down to the limited-edition plate.
As loony lefty Barbra Streisand puts it: "Memories light the corners of my mind. Misty watercolor memories, of the way we were."
Babs goes with the boohoos of the babblers, one as feeble as the other.
Jordan almost owes America an apology for living, for playing a game not as well as he once did. He misses a shot, and the feeble head straight to the office of a psychotherapist, their "misty watercolor memories" sullied.
So please excuse Jordan while he attempts to dust off his cape one last time. What is there to lose, except another game, the prevailing manner of the franchise in the last two decades? This qualifies as intriguing, as intriguing has been defined down after 17 games. The results for Jordan so far have been mixed, a so-so game followed by a robust game and a 1-1 record. This is the deal, uncertain as it is.
The team is teetering, left to embrace the last remnants of resuscitation power in Jordan's 39-year-old body.
Jordan no longer has the capacity to provide all the answers, or even an ample share of them on some nights, but he beats all the other alternatives. Is that Patrick Ewing warming up in the background? Why not? Anything is worth a look following a six-game losing streak and an improved pecking order in the conference.
As Jordan pointed out last week, securing a playoff berth is the first priority, preserving his knees the second. A well-rested Jordan next spring serves no function on a golf course, if that is the fate.
Coach Doug Collins has spent much of his tenure in Tony Cheng's neighborhood wrestling with the subject of Jordan's minutes, only to have it overtaken by the events on the floor. A 2-9 start extinguished the best intentions last season, just as a six-game losing streak has done the same this season.
Jordan and the Wizards still have plenty of games to forge a kind of peace with the season, Jordan in particular.
He is checking out after the season, of which he is 100 percent certain, as opposed to 99.9 percent.
Go for it.

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