Jordan saga continues

Posted: Friday, April 20, 2001

WASHINGTON -- Michael Jordan continued to quote the same long odds that he won't return to the NBA, but he quickly added that ''three months from now, I can't tell where I'm going to be.''

Jordan's comments came at a news conference Thursday where he introduced Doug Collins as the coach of the Washington Wizards.

Jordan said he had told Collins that he should not make his decision on whether to coach the Wizards ''depending upon whether Michael Jordan plays basketball again.''

''There's been a lot of conversation about Michael Jordan playing basketball again,'' Jordan said, answering a reporter's question.

''I've said, and I still hold true to my words, that there's a 99.9 percent chance that I won't,'' Jordan said.

But, he added: ''Three months from now, I can't tell where I'm going to be. Hopefully, I'll still be breathing. But if you ask me my opinion, as of right now, I'm not playing basketball next season, and Doug understands that.''

Collins said it was his understanding that he was coming to Washington to coach the Wizards and that his relationship with Jordan would be as coach to team president.

''The most important thing for me was that Michael was going to be president here and we were going to be together,'' Collins said. ''Whatever comes after that would be gravy.

''So, when Michael makes his decision, he's going to know in his heart if he can do the things he wants to do, and that's all I needed to know from Michael.''

Speculation has grown in recent weeks about the possibility of a comeback next season by Jordan, the 12-time All-Star, six-time champion, 10-time scoring leader and five-time MVP.

Charles Barkley, who has also been the subject of returning from retirement rumors, wasn't shy about dropping hints about he and Jordan's future Thursday.

''If I say anything else right now, Michael will kill me,'' Barkley said during the Southwestern Bell-SMU Athletic Forum luncheon in Dallas. ''There's been a lot of speculation. Usually, where's there's smoke, there's fire.''

The Dallas Morning News said Barkley hopes to lose 50 pounds. He says Jordan has lost about 30 pounds.

''I'm a little slower,'' he said. ''But we're on pace, trust me.''

Jordan has donated his personal trainer to Barkley for about a week, beginning Friday. He also said they are scouting for a ''big man.''

''We'll let everybody know when the playoffs are over,'' Barkley said. ''It wouldn't be fair to say any more right now. The playoffs are about these guys (current NBA players).''

Jordan retired in 1998 after a storybook ending to his last game, when he hit his final shot to give the Chicago Bulls a title-clinching victory over the Utah Jazz in Game 6 of the NBA Finals.

Barkley's 16-year NBA career ended last season after a knee injury limited him to 20 games with the Houston Rockets. An 11-time All-Star, he led the league in rebounding in 1987 and was the NBA's MVP in 1993.

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