Volume 93, Issue 67

Friday, January 28, 2000


Men and women v-ballers keep pulling in wins

NBA super star sell outs

Millennium moment

NBA super star sell outs

After enchanting the National Basketball Association his entire career, Michael Jordan has suited up, not in the traditional b-ball garb, but in a three piece Armani suit as the Washington Wizard's president of basketball operations.

With barely enough retirement time to catch his breath, play a season of golf or star in an assault of post-career Nike commercials, Jordan found himself pulled back into the basketball orbit by franchise ownership.

His airness is one of many former NBA superstars who have been unable to fully walk away from the game which has meant so much to their lives.

Although some basketball retirees have been successful on the business side of the game, others have found the transition from the front court to the front office to resemble the proverbial "air ball."

However, the real question is why have these round ball greats not returned to help the teams who originally launched them into the stratosphere of super stardom?

Why did Larry Bird take the coaching role for the Indiana Pacers knowing full well his Boston Celtics were in desperate need of the old school "Celtic Pride" that number 33 so often brought?

Why did Isiah Thomas run north of the border to become general manager of the Toronto Raptors instead of trying to oil the stalled Pistons of Detroit back to the combustible force they were when the all-star point guard dribbled them to the top?

And why has number 23 assumed his current position in the American capital, when the desolate Bulls are fighting to stay out of the basement and seem to be numerous letters away from spelling d-y-n-a-s-t-y ever again?

It's been said that no good can come from retired celebrities returning to their adoring cities. Taking on the role of management brings with it an almost automatic stigma to which even the most popular stars are not immune. Media scrutiny and unshakable nostalgia also steer retirees away from their past employers.

Frankly, I'd argue it's just old fashioned selling out.

Who else but the aforementioned former greats would know the inner workings of their respective squads better? What other individual could instill the spirit of everything that represents a Bull, a Celtic, or a Piston more so than a past legend?

No one could. That's why the move is both cowardly and cold. Considering all the fame and fortune such stars have sucked out of their given franchises, how can they turn their backs when they're needed the most?

This may be a lot to ask of someone who doesn't really owe anything to their former club, especially in a time when athletes are rarely synonymous with a specific team over the duration of their career and multimillion dollar contracts build team unity.

Larry, Isiah, Michael, I hope you're OK with the state of your respective teams, because you're not helping any of their problems.

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