Wizards Answer the Call (and the Rant and the Rave) From Jordan

By Mike Wise
Wednesday, April 26, 2006

CLEVELAND Gilbert Arenas did something very good before Game 2 Tuesday night. He did not make his coach angry. He decided not to sign a nonaggression pact with LeBron James. He decided to push the evil twin from Game 1 back into the locker room. He decided this was a good night to make this a two-superstar series.

Welcome to the series, Gilbert. Eddie Jordan missed you. And your coach wasn't going to take any guff from anyone on the roster anymore.

You, too, Caron and Antawn. Your coach thanks you for showing up and displaying the flair and fire that seized home-court advantage from LeBron James and his extras.

Because the way Jordan looked and behaved Tuesday night, trust us: the alternative would have been ugly.

The Wizards' three best players physically beat down James and the Cavs. They won Game 2 with their resolve and skill. But they don't do it without Jordan's unexpected fury, a hot cauldron, percolating inside a calm man, finally boiling over.

"Sometimes a little Southeast comes out in me," Jordan said after Washington ended Cleveland's 12-game home winning streak. "Just a little."

As much as what happened on the court, Jordan is the reason the Wizards are coming home knotted at one game apiece in their first-round series with the Cavs. He went at his players. He went at the officiating crew. He went at a truly warped fan before halftime before he was restrained by his assistants.

"Is that the hottest you've ever seen Eddie get?" Phil Hubbard, Jordan's assistant, was asked.

"No, but it's got to be up there," Hubbard said.

Jordan's eyes were bloodshot before Game 2. He looked like he hadn't slept in days. One of the most even-keeled men in the NBA walked into the arena here in an ornery, testy, irritable mood.

This was not the night to push Jordan. This was the not the night to get beat backdoor for a layup like Antonio Daniels did in the first half, a lazy defensive play that made the Wizards coach leap from the bench in anger.

Jordan called a timeout. He screamed unprintable words at his players. He was so disgusted he had to walk away from the huddle.

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