Kelvin Davall's face was so close to an MCI Center box office window that his breath kind of fogged it up.
"I'm going to be the loudest guy in there tonight," Davall said, briefly turning his face from the thick plexiglass, where he bartered for the cheapest ticket available for yesterday's basketball game between the bumbling Washington Wizards and the laughingstock Dallas Mavericks. "I'm the biggest fan."
Davall wasn't talking about the Washington Wizards, per se, although he thinks they're all right. He was talking about the newly crowned president of basketball operations, Michael Jordan.
"It's a dream come true to me because he's my favorite basketball player and he's coming to my home town," said Davall, 33. "I'm definitely excited about that."
But what truly excites Davall, and throngs of other Wizards fans in the Washington area, is the prospect of Jordan actually suiting up to play or to coach the team. Hey, anybody can dream.
Some basketball professionals believe that Jordan won't help the team whatsoever, that he's getting in over his head, that between playing golf and pitching the many products he endorses, he won't have time to handle the basketball operations job the way they should be handled.
Washington fans greeted that skepticism with a big fat "puh-lease." They're buying tickets because they believe. Davall got a $10 Wizards ticket that normally goes for $32 "because of some type of promotion," he said.
He stopped and thought for a second. "I honestly don't know who they're playing tonight." Stamped on his ticket was disappointing Dallas. Oh, well. Then Davall brightened. "Maybe I'll see Jordan!"
"People walk in talking about him," said Milt Newby, manager of Modell's sport store at MCI Center. "They think everything he touches turns to gold. The Wizards are playing the Mavericks tonight, and that's not a big draw. But they're coming in buying the jerseys and buying Wizards stuff. It's good for the city."
At Footaction USA in Manassas, shoe salesman Kevin Higgins said anything with Jordan's name on it sells out almost instantly, even one year after his retirement. Higgins, 18, a freshman at George Mason University, said Jordan's arrival in Washington likely will have a large impact on the NBA.
"I think it will be good for basketball in general," said Higgins, a New York Knicks fan, adding that he doesn't like the Wizards but has always admired Jordan. "He brings his good character to the NBA, and everyone talks of him as a great guy. He's an idol that everyone can look up to. It's hard not to like him."
In Chicago, they love Jordan, but some don't like what they're seeing. "It's good he's getting back in the game, but not for the Wizards," said Tito Chacon, a waiter at the Billy Goat Tavern who has a large color tattoo of the Bulls logo on his right bicep.
"It's fabulous that he's going back to basketball," said Susie Sturm, an "ex-Bulls fan" who works at Fox TV, as she was taking an afternoon break at the Billy Goat downtown. "I wish he could be going back to the Bulls, but there's nothing for him there. They forced him out of town."
Chicago's loss is Washington's gain. Irrainia Nash, a 14-year-old point guard for the Patricia Roberts Harris Educational Center, was on her way to a game with Kramer Middle School in Anacostia. If her coach, William Brockenberry, hadn't pulled her off the phone, she might have never stopped talking about Jordan.
"It's good because he knows basketball players who can play, and he knows who to pick," said Irrainia, who averages 21 points a game for the girls' team. "I'm as good as Jordan." She eventually sees Jordan as a Wizards "shooting guard. He should either coach the Wizards or go ahead and play," she said.
Even the coach, Brockenberry, chimed in. "I feel like every great player wants to be more hands-on rather than dealing with management," said Brockenberry, another fan with dreams of Jordan ripping off his expensive suit, Superman-style, to reveal Wizards ballplaying gear.
When he came down to earth, Brockenberry said that Jordan, wearing a suit and tie, "can give the Wizards the ideals he had as a player and make them better than they are now."
Now there are some people who will knock the hapless Wizards no matter what, and one of them is Latisha Cambridge, 21, of Laurel. "Michael Jordan don't belong in D.C.," she said. "I'm angry because they got rid of Chris Webber. Now they're getting Michael Jordan, but he isn't going to play. That's the only thing he could do to help them."
Kari Lydersen in Chicago contributed to this report.
CAPTION: A fan at last night's Washington Wizards game against the Dallas Mavericks holds sign urging Michael Jordan to get into the game.