- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Michael Jordan dropped the victim card in an interview with Ed Bradley on “60 Minutes,” which requires a stunning amount of hubris on the part of the basketball icon.

This is a transparent attempt to restore his viability as a basketball executive after a disappointing tenure with the Wizards.

He certainly built no compelling front-office legacy with the Wizards.

We won’t flesh out the matter of Kwame Brown, the No.1 pick overall in the 2001 NBA Draft.

Or the abysmal coaching stint of Leonard Hamilton, another Jordan-inspired move.

Jordan claimed to have felt “used in a sense” after being dismissed by owner Abe Pollin in the spring of 2003, which conveniently forgets the attitude of a franchise only too eager to pray at his altar for the longest time.

Pollin and the front office gave Jordan everything he possibly wanted, and what he gave them in return was a part-time executive and a two-year midlife crisis.

His presence sold out the arena for two seasons, as he waged his losing battle against the ravages of time.

Yet the fannies in the seats never resulted in enough wins or a sense that the franchise was moving in the right direction. If anything, after Jordan was spotted motoring away from Tony Cheng’s neighborhood for the last time, it was widely feared that the franchise was doomed to another generation’s worth of inept basketball.

That hardly has been the case because Pollin went out and hired a full-time basketball executive in Ernie Grunfeld, as opposed to one who commuted by jet to the nation’s capital and conducted all too much business by cell phone from a golf course.

Jordan was ill-prepared to do the grunt work of an NBA executive, the traveling to out-of-the-way gyms to evaluate a potential prospect.

Not that you could fault him entirely for that. He still was coming down from superstardom days unlike any other, and dealing with the nuisances of his transcendent fame could not always be pleasant.

But Jordan should have thought about all that before he committed himself to the project of rebuilding the Wizards.

His was not the role of a glorified figurehead who would turn the tough stuff over to an able staff. His was the last word on personnel, and he certainly was more than happy to take a bow after unloading Juwan Howard’s contract on Mark Cuban.

Jordan also neglected to note his bad form while playing with the Wizards in the spring of 2003, his flirting with Bob Johnson as the front office of the Bobcats was being pieced together.

That sort of maneuvering does not go over well with business types, least of all Jordan, who requires unyielding fealty among his subjects.

Jordan made a mess on Fun Street, and his comeback was motivated by ego, not a need to help an organization get back on its feet, as he put it.

Jordan created an untenable situation in the locker room after hiring Doug Collins, who came to be nothing more than his lackey. Collins lost the respect of many of the players because the players knew he was mostly there to coach the comeback of Jordan. Few coaches could have made that assignment work.

Grunfeld has initiated the recovery of the Wizards, and he has done it the old-fashioned way, with shoe leather and shrewd moves.

Jordan is entitled to dabble in revisionist history if he likes, while promoting his new book, “Driven From Within.”

He wants another opportunity to lead a franchise, and he undoubtedly will secure one in due time.

Perhaps now he is ready to make a genuine commitment.

Interested parties should be prepared to establish firm ground rules with Jordan. The first one: no commuting from Chicago.

Jordan was indulged in Washington until Pollin no longer could tolerate it, and other than two seasons’ worth of sellouts, it did no one any good.

Most of all, it did Jordan no good.



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