- The Washington Times - Monday, November 24, 2008

The Washington Wizards have fired head coach Eddie Jordan after a 1-10 start to the season, team spokesman Scott Hall confirmed.

Ed Taspcott, who was in his second season as the Wizards’ director of player development and programs, will serve as interim coach. He will run the team’s practice at 11 a.m. today and a 2 p.m. press conference will follow.

Jordan, who joined the team in 2003 and had been the longest-tenured coach in the Eastern Conference, was informed of his dismissal this morning, despite the fact that the Wizards had picked up an option on his contract that would have kept him locked up through the 2009-2010 season. Associate head coach Mike O’Koren also was fired.

The 1-10 start was the worst ever for a Jordan-led team, as the Wizards struggled with the absences of guard Gilbert Arenas and center Brendan Haywood due to injury. The team’s only win came on Nov. 12 and it has lost five straight games since. The Wizards lost 122-117 to the New York Knicks on Saturday.

“Our 1-10 record is not acceptable and, more importantly, the way we have lost those games is not acceptable,” Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld said in a statement released by the team. “We felt as an organization that it was time to make a change and were looking forward to the team moving in a positive direction.”

Jordan could not immediately be reached for comment, but said last week that he thought he had Grunfeld’s support. Players also sent him text messages of encouragement.

“Not in our wildest dreams did we ever think we would be 1-10, and now how do you handle that?” Jordan said Saturday night. “I wish I could give them a manual on how you stay poised, how you suck it up, how you stay positive. I can’t find a manual like that yet.

“But again, I reiterated, we don’t have losing habits. And that’s a big thing for us. You respect the game. You play hard. You help your teammate. You protect your teammate. You play with confidence. You understand what the coaches are telling you, try to follow directions. We have all that. We just haven’t won.”

Under Jordan, the Wizards made four consecutive playoff appearances, compiling a record of 197-224 over a little more than five seasons. But this season started as one of the worst in his tenure, as the team struggled in close games, losing 7 contests after holding leads in the fourth quarter. The Wizards have also seen their scoring drop, as they now rank 27th in the league in points per game and rank 23rd in shooting percentage. Meanwhile, only three teams have given up more points than the Wizards.

“This was an extremely difficult decision because I’m personally very fond of Eddie,” said Wizards Chairman Abe Pollin. “He helped bring our franchise back to the playoffs and became engrained in the Washington D.C., community. I will forever be grateful for his dedication and hard work. However, sometimes circumstances force changes. Our team is not performing to my expectations and I felt it was time to make a change. We wish Eddie and his family all the best.”

In Tapscott, the Wizards get a former American University head coach who also served as chief operating officer of the Charlotte Bobcats from 2003 to 2006. He also was vice president of basketball development for the New York Knicks during the 1990s. He has never been a head coach in the NBA, and, unlike Jordan, was not schooled in the Princeton-style offense that has characterized the Wizards over the last several years.

Assistant coaches Phil Hubbard, Randy Ayers, Wes Unseld Jr. and Dave Hopla will remain with the Wizards.

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