- The Washington Times - Friday, May 9, 2003

Abe Pollin didn’t want to keep everyone guessing. So, after meeting with all the pertinent parties, he issued a statement that said he wants his franchise to move in a “different direction” — away from the Michael Jordan era. The announcement shocked plenty of folks, including Jordan, who said he was, well, “shocked.” Pollin made the right move. After all, it is his team, and it’s been a while since the Wizards had a winning season.In the three-and-half seasons since Jordan’s arrival, the Wizards have mounted a 110-179 record. The past two season records have been 37-45, with Jordan playing — better than the disastrous 19-63 record in the 2000-01 season, but losing seasons nonetheless.Prior to Jordan’s arrival, Pollin and minority owner Ted Leonsis could count on three things: empty seats at MCI; little national TV exposure; and no playoffs. The cache of Jordan’s name and prowess on the court certainly brought better sales at the box office at the House that Pollin Built (and other arenas), as well as national TV coverage. But, while two out of three isn’t bad, the Wizards never made the playoffs.So, what’s in store for Pollin’s Wizards, which are worth an estimated $278 million? What’s in Jordan’s future?Well, Mr. Franchise is entertaining other options. Bob Johnson said Jordan can “play any role he wants to play” with his new NBA franchise in Charlotte, which opens in 2004. It is Johnson’s call, of course. But Johnson should ask himself if team-building is Jordan’s strong suit, since the Wizards’ losing teams were essentially built by — and for — Jordan himself.Pollin and Leonsis, meanwhile, are very busy. They have to brand their team for a post-Jordan era. Rebuild their team, with the help of a new general manager and next month’s draft. Soothe bruised egos, which should be easier now that the air is clearer. They also have to decide whether to keep any or all members of Jordan’s coaching staff. More importantly, they have to do it all amid an anticipated drop in ticket sales.Pollin’s NBA franchise last had a championship season 25 years ago. Back then, the team was called the Bullets and they played in the Capital Centre. The name has changed and that arena is gone. Like his fans, Pollin wants another championship — or at least a trip to the playoffs. We wish him luck.

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