- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Michael Jordan hoped to be somewhere warm when the NBA's overhyped All-Star festivities tip off next week at Philips Arena in Hotlanta he just didn't want to be in Georgia's largest city, site of the Feb.9 game.
Guess what? He didn't get his wish.
Jordan was selected by the league's coaches yesterday as a reluctant reserve for the East, his 14th All-Star Game appearance. Meanwhile, teammate Jerry Stackhouse, perhaps a more deserving choice, was omitted.
Stackhouse, an eight-year veteran, leads the Washington Wizards in both scoring (22.9) and assists (4.8). Jordan is second in scoring (18.2) and assists (3.7) and is in a three-way tie with Larry Hughes and Kwame Brown as the leading rebounder (5.6).
Jordan almost campaigned to be left off of the roster in hopes that he might get away from the hectic NBA schedule and utilize the six days off that non-participating Wizards will have.
Jordan last week moved past Wilt Chamberlain to become the third-highest scorer in league history (31,467) and his 21.3 scoring average in All-Star Games is the highest in history. Considering these factors, plus his retirement after this season, there was no way coaches many collecting sizable paychecks due to Jordan's influence on the game were going to leave him off the team.
"It's a privilege to go to the midseason classic," Jordan said, sounding almost reluctant. "I've been there many times, and it is truly a privilege for me to go and enjoy the weekend and have some fun."
But Jordan, without much prompting, also conceded that playing in the game was not at the top of his list of things he wants to do.
"I wouldn't have minded it [if he had not been selected]," Jordan said. "I know the experience, and I know the fun that you have. But if I was selected, which I said weeks ago, I would go and represent and enjoy myself at the same time. It would give my kids a chance to see some of the upcoming stars of the game. For me, I can find my rest within this weekend."
Joining Jordan as reserves on the East team will be Boston's Paul Pierce and Antoine Walker, New Jersey's Jason Kidd and first-time All-Stars Zydrunas Ilgauskas of Cleveland, Brad Miller of Indiana and Jamal Mashburn of New Orleans.
Previously voted as starters for the East through the NBA All-Star 2003 Balloting program were Detroit's Ben Wallace, Indiana's Jermaine O'Neal, Orlando's Tracy McGrady, Philadelphia's Allen Iverson and Toronto's Vince Carter.
Stackhouse has been selected an All-Star twice in his career, most recently in 2000-01 when he was second in the league in scoring. Last season Stackhouse became more of an all-around player, cutting back on his scoring (21.4) to lead the Detroit Pistons to the Central Division championship.
"I'm used to being on the short end of the stick," Stackhouse said. "I've just got to keep working hard, and hopefully it will happen later on. I'm probably the only guy in NBA history to lead the team in scoring and assists for two years and not get an All-Star berth. But things happen.
"But it's disappointing. I can't sit here and say it's not disappointing. I think every player should strive for it and try to attain an All-Star berth. I felt that I came out and did the things that I do to help the team win. Evidently, people didn't see it that way."
Jordan noted that Stackhouse is on the verge of superstardom, adding that he is not far from playing at the high level set by McGrady, Iverson and Kobe Bryant.
"Obviously, it is a tough situation for Stack," Jordan said. "I'd much rather see him experience [the All-Star Game] because I think it would be very motivating for him and I think he is deserving of it because of his efforts each and every time he steps on the court."
There has been some speculation that Carter, who has appeared in just 11 games this season due to injury, will allow Jordan to start. Jordan does not want to play extended minutes this time. Last season he played 22 minutes.
There had been some speculation that the league did not want to take two players from the Wizards. However, this appears to be a ridiculous assertion. Six teams Boston, Dallas, Houston, Indiana, the Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix have two players each.
Though he will not be in Atlanta the following weekend, Stackhouse said Jordan's participation in the festivities was a no-brainer.
"Michael has done something for everybody who is in this game of basketball now," Stackhouse said. "So if that was the decision to make, then I would gladly not go for him to finish his career on the All-Star team. I'm a bigger fan of Michael Jordan than anybody, and for him to go out the right way means a lot to me and a lot of people."


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide