Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Asking Jordan To Come Back Is Just Tactless

Some people just don’t know when to quit. Phil Jackson doesn’t, but Pat Riley does. Karl Malone doesn’t, but ichael Jordan does.

And I’m glad to see that. Jordan certainly should know when it’s quitting time – he’s had plenty of practice at it. The guy has come back more times than the Bible says Jesus will. He’s got more comebacks than a book full of “your mom” jokes.

Yet rumor has it that his former coach, the aforementioned Jackson, considered asking Mike to play one more time, this time for the Lakers.

Neck deep in the Kobe Bryant scandal that developed over the summer, Jackson’s L.A. team is struggling to keep its collective head above water. Expectations for this team have been high since missing out on their fourth consecutive championship last season.

Jordan made the right move last week by preemptively announcing that he was done playing basketball for good. In doing so, Jordan made the statement that he would not be the life raft used by the Lakers to paddle away from the swelling tide of Kobe’s sexual assault trial.

On paper, Jackson’s idea seemed like a good one from nearly every angle. Jordan has half a dozen championship rings. Heck, the first time he came back to basketball he led the Bulls to three consecutive titles, the first time anyone had done that since . well, Jordan did it in ’91, ’92 and ’93.

Add Jordan’s six to Shaq’s three and Kobe’s three and you’ve got a dozen right there – only two more than Jackson has in his own personal collection. That’s right, the guy’s got as many NBA Championship rings as he does fingers. In the offseason, the Lakers acquired Gary Payton and Karl Malone, and while these two All-Stars don’t contribute any rings to the pile, they do bolster the Lakers’ chances for another round of shiny objects.

Jackson’s plan of replacing Kobe with Jordan has only two flaws. The first is mainly that I don’t like the Lakers. aybe, coming from Florida and growing up as a Magic fan, I’m just bitter about the Shaq fiasco, but whatever it is – like so many others out there – I simply don’t like the Lakers. What they have done over the past four seasons is equivalent to what the Florida Marlins did in 1997 and what the Yankees did throughout most of the 20th century: they bought championships. Unfortunately, it’s worked so far. Sure Karl and Gary took big pay cuts to play for the yellow and purple, but the simple fact is that no other team in the league could even dream of putting four All-Star players in their starting lineup only to leave big names like Horace Grant and Rick Fox on the bench.

The second flaw in a Jordan return, and what I see as the more egregious of the two, is the obvious attempt to divert attention out of the courtroom and back onto the basketball court. The guy is 40 now. If it were almost anyone other than him, retirement from the sport would’ve become permanent years ago. It is nothing short of an injustice to the man to ask him to make his fourth comeback as a mere publicity stunt, and that’s what this would be. It is the hope of Jackson and the Lakers’ front office that Jordan in an L.A. jersey would pull enough of the heat off of Kobe to attract fans back into the Staples Center.

That’s not fair to Jordan.

Like him or hate him, you have to respect what he’s done for the game. He knocked off Georgetown in the 1982 NCAA Finals as a sophomore, and the sport of basketball has been all-Jordan all-the-time ever since. In the mid-’90s he even took a couple of seasons off from the game just to remind the rest of us that he’s still human. It reminded us that he’s not a god – he’s not even going to be able to play two sports professionally as Jim Thorpe and Bo Jackson had before him. Those years of Jordan in a baseball uniform evoke some pretty ugly images, but they’re still a reminder that he has flaws. We all do.

But that doesn’t excuse using Jordan to mask the flaws of another human being. Isn’t it ironic that for years Kobe was touted as the next Jordan? Whether or not he did what he’s accused of, he’s no Jordan. If he were, Phil Jackson wouldn’t be asking His Airness to fill in.

Like him or not, you’ve got to respect Jordan for what he brought to the game. And you ought to respect him for the decision he made to leave the game well enough alone.

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