Washington Wizards guard Michael Jordan, in his 15th and final NBA season, said he would not mind being left out of next month's All-Star Game in Atlanta so younger players could compete.
"Things are changing," said Jordan, a 13-time all-star and three-time all-star game most valuable player. "Players are changing and a new generation is coming in. Fans want to see new players in new situations. That doesn't bother me at all. I welcome that. That's how the league is going to survive. It's time for me to step aside and let these kids move in."
Fan balloting, which determines the five starters from the Eastern and Western conferences, ended Sunday. Starting lineups will be announced Jan. 23. Coaches from each conference will vote for the all-star reserves. Jordan, whose 21.3 points per game in all-star games is a league record, trailed Orlando's Tracy McGrady and Philadelphia's Allen Iverson at the guard spots in the East by more than 100,000 votes as of Friday. If he fails to be voted in by fans, it will be up to Eastern Conference coaches to name him to the all-star team.
Jordan likely will get serious competition for the reserve spots in the back court by Boston's Paul Pierce, New Jersey's Jason Kidd, New Orleans' Baron Davis, New York's Allan Houston, Milwaukee's Ray Allen and teammate Jerry Stackhouse, among others.
However Jordan's popularity and impact on the league over his career could be enough to send him into retirement after the season as a current all-star. Jordan elevated awareness not just of the all-star game itself, but of the entire all-star weekend, which has included a long-range shooting contest, a two-ball shooting competition, a rookie vs. sophomore game and a dunk competition, which he won in 1987 and 1988.
Jordan said he would be honored to play in the game but would not mind a six-day break.
"Look, I've played in enough all-star games to know what it feels like," said Jordan, who started in last season's game, making him the first Washington player since Chris Webber  to play in the midseason classic. "I'm not opposed to letting the young kids go in and do things. It would be great relaxation for me and my family for that week. I'm not opposed to that.
"I'm not going to campaign for it. I've had my experiences with the all-star game and it's great and it's good to represent the fans and if I get a chance to do that, I will do that. If I don't, there will be no remorse, no ill feelings, no animosity, none of that. I'll enjoy my week. I'm pretty sure I can find a warm climate somewhere."