- The Washington Times - Friday, June 20, 2003

Eddie Jordan was the so-called “hot assistant” of the NBA playoffs following an Arctic-like stint with the Kings that ended with a pink slip in 1998.

It seems nothing improves the perception of a coach with a 33-64 career record like two consecutive trips to the NBA Finals.

Jordan apparently was the brains of the basketball operation in New Jersey, as it is being revealed in predictable fashion this week. He also has some shrink in him, based on his psychological handiwork with the previously tormented Kenyon Martin.

Jordan must be a New Age coach. He can draw up the game-winning play with a few seconds left or he can help a histrionically impaired player get in touch with his inner child.

Jordan probably speaks a little Chinese as well, which is a demographically useful quality in Tony Cheng’s neighborhood and with those players who decorate their bodies with platitudes to the Dalai Lama and General Tso’s chicken.

Nothing against Jordan, Eddie or Michael, but the dizzying effect is a product of the spin, the NBA’s principal pastime in the offseason.

The new Jordan better have a strong stomach. The honeymoon period, assuming there is one, is expected to be brief.

Jordan already has one dog in the ranks, Larry Hughes, who quit on the old Jordan last season after coming down with SARS, the West Nile virus, monkeypox, scurvy, beriberi and the bubonic plague. It is hoped Hughes will recover in time to be traded to the next sucker.

The new Jordan is permitted the luxury of a sloppy kiss or three on the day of his official homecoming. After all, Washington became accustomed to a number of allegedly heterosexual men swooning like schoolgirls around the old Jordan. It was, in fact, an art form with Doug Collins, first practiced by Ahmad Rashad.

Being a “hot assistant” comes with an asterisk in Jordan’s case.

As the No.1 junior varsity contingent in the East, the Nets are no better than the sixth- or seventh-best team in the NBA, in the company of the Trail Blazers and the Jazz.

Jim Lynam, one of the victims of the Cheech & Chong team in Oregon, is hardly a “hot assistant” unless being hot under the collar counts. The same lack of a profile goes with Phil Johnson in Utah.

Jordan was anointed the “hot assistant” mostly on the say-so of Byron Scott, who was in a position to know hot from cold, cold from hot, as well as other points on the Fahrenheit scale.

If Jordan had been rated merely a “lukewarm assistant,” Abe Pollin probably would not have been interested in starting a dialogue with him.

You know how it is with “hot assistants” in sports, going back to Norv Turner, one of the hottest “hot assistants” ever until he became the ice cold head coach of the local football team.

Pollin is betting the season ticket money on both Jordan and a president of basketball operations to be named. Pollin made this bold offer to the team’s disappointed followers after letting Collins know that his obsession with the old Jordan no longer would be needed on Fun Street.

“What can you say?” as the flushed Collins would say. “He’s Michael Jordan.”

What can you say? Now he is Eddie Jordan.

It could be worse. He could be Curtis Jordan.

This Jordan is not likely to inspire a season ticket rush. It seems that task will be up to a team that traumatized its previous coach with the F-bomb.

The team needs a full-time point guard, plus a decision to stay from Jerry Stackhouse and Tyronn Lue, and a desperate willingness from Kwame Brown to be an All-Star.

No dreaming of a playoff berth is allowed unless Jason Kidd is part of the deal with Jordan.

As understated as the coaching hire is, the Wizards are not obligated to be as grim as the league-wide perception dictates next season.

The perception is often wrong. If you recall, the last Jordan walked on water before leaving town all wet.

The new Jordan won’t have a stable of spin doctors to talk up a four-game losing streak as a valuable learning experience. He won’t be the go-to player on offense either. That alone should improve the dynamics of a team that lived and died on the perimeter and blamed it on a second-year player out of high school.

It was the best the fearful could manage in the vicinity of the 900-pound ego.

The new Jordan is one-up on the old Jordan in this regard.

We’ll see about the rest.

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