By Ivan Carter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Since the Wizards relieved him of his coaching duties last Monday and replaced him with Ed Tapscott, Eddie Jordan has enjoyed the Thanksgiving holiday with friends and family, attended his children's karate workouts and basketball practices, and even rooted for his former team from the comfort of his living room couch.
"I watch the games with my son Jackson and we cheer every time they make a shot," Jordan said in a phone conversation. "I'm pulling for them and wish them the best."
If Jordan harbors any hard feelings about the team's decision to fire him so early in the season, he's hiding them well.
Jordan, who was under contract through next season and is owed approximately $8 million, declined to go into detail about what led to his dismissal or discuss statements made by Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld and owner Abe Pollin.
Despite the fact that Jordan was coaching a team without injured starters Gilbert Arenas and Brendan Haywood and that Jordan led a similarly injury-plagued team to the postseason following an 0-5 start last season, Grunfeld said the team's 1-10 start was "unacceptable" and felt a change needed to be made.
The Wizards have a 2-3 record under Tapscott after last night's 98-92 loss to Portland.
"They did what they felt they had to do, I accepted it and I move on," said Jordan, who led the team to four straight playoff appearances and is the third-winningest coach in franchise history. "I'm happy and I wish them the best. They've won a couple of games and hopefully that will get them going and they will have a successful season."
Jordan, a Washington native with deep ties to the community, admitted that being out of the game at this time of year has been strange.
With the exception of the 1998-99 lockout, when the season did not begin until early February, Jordan has been busy as an assistant or head coach for the previous 16 seasons.
Prior to that, Jordan had been a player or coach at the college and NBA levels.
"It's weird because you wake up thinking about basketball," Jordan said. "Who are we playing? What should we focus on in practice today? What are the matchups we need to be thinking about? Those kinds of things kind of become ingrained in you as a coach, so it has been unusual. But it's also been good to do some other things. I'm with my family for the holidays. I'm spending time with my wife and kids. I'm doing dishes, so it's been good to kind of step back because I haven't had the chance to do those kinds of things this time of year. Basketball kind of takes over your life."
Jordan said he has no immediate plans to return to coaching, but he will be a hot candidate when positions open up around the league. Just yesterday, Sam Mitchell (Toronto Raptors) joined Jordan and P.J. Carlesimo (Oklahoma City Thunder) as coaches who have been fired this season.
"He won't be out of the game for long, I can promise you that," said an NBA scout who asked that his name not be used because he did not want to be quoted on another team's situation. He expressed surprise at the Wizards' decision to fire Jordan after only 11 games. "Speaking just as a guy who has observed him over the years, his system is one of the toughest in the league to prepare for and his guys really play for him. I can't imagine that it will be very long before some team snatches him up and he's back on the sidelines."
In the meantime, Jordan has been offered opportunities to attend practices and sit in on meetings with coaching colleagues from other teams, including New Jersey's Lawrence Frank, who remains a close friend from the days when he and Jordan were on the same staff under Byron Scott. Jordan has also been contacted about doing television work as a basketball analyst.
"You never know what's going to happen in the NBA," Jordan said. "It's been so fast, I really haven't had time to think about what is going to happen in the future, but I'll keep my options open and see what happens."
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