Washington Wizards majority owner Abe Pollin, team president Susan O'Malley, General Manager Wes Unseld and agent David Falk were at MCI Center for yesterday's Wizards-Boston Celtics game.
None, however, would speak about the ongoing negotiations between Falk's top client, Michael Jordan, and the Wizards regarding Jordan joining the team as part owner and head of basketball operations.
The principals--Jordan and members of the minority ownership group, led by America Online Inc. executive Ted Leonsis--were not in attendance. Leonsis was in Florida, according to a spokesman for the Washington Capitals, which are owned by Leonsis and partners. The Capitals played the Tampa Bay Lightning yesterday.
"There have been a lot of questions that have been asked about [Jordan's] aspirations about owning an NBA franchise," Falk said. "There have been questions in Vancouver, Denver and Orlando and all over the league. We've made a policy not to respond."
Jordan has reached an agreement in principle with Pollin to accept a role as director of basketball operations, a league source said last week. Jordan and the minority ownership group are negotiating Jordan's potential role in the group, sources said.
Boston Celtics Coach and President Rick Pitino, who orchestrates most of his franchise's operations, said if Jordan takes the job he will be in for a tremendous amount of work.
"My advice to him would be to stay on the golf course," Pitino said. "If his motive is to be a businessman and to make money, I would stay with commercials. If his motive is to be a part of professional basketball, then he would add to the game greatly."
Richmond: Broken Rib
Guard Mitch Richmond, the Wizards' leading scorer, will miss at least five games after being placed on the injured list yesterday with a fractured right rib, the team announced.
X-rays before yesterday's game revealed the fracture. Richmond, who is averaging 16.8 points a game, suffered what was originally diagnosed as bruised ribs during a Jan. 7 loss to Chicago.
He aggravated the injury in Saturday night's loss to the visiting Detroit Pistons. X-rays were inconclusive then. After the game Richmond said he heard something pop and said he was very uncomfortable.
Rookie Richard Hamilton replaced Richmond in the starting lineup yesterday against Boston. Fellow rookie Laron Profit, who had suffered from tendinitis in his left knee, was activated from the injured list.
Hamilton missed the past two games because he was in Pennsylvania following the death of his maternal grandmother, Louise Long, who died of cancer. He is expected to miss tomorrow's home game against Dallas to attend the funeral.
Hamilton admitted after the game that his thoughts occasionally veered from the game and toward his grandmother, although usually when he went to the bench.
"I tried to focus on the game, but I would focus for a couple of minutes, sit down on the bench and think about it," said Hamilton, who scored nine points.
Coach Gar Heard said he will decide today whether to start small forward Tracy Murray or guards Reggie Jordan or Profit tomorrow. . . .
The Wizards collected an estimated 600 coats during a coat drive before Saturday's game against Detroit.