Michael Jordan last night left open the possibility for the first time that he could leave the Washington Wizards for a management position with the Chicago Bulls or elsewhere.
While reiterating that he would like to return to the Wizards' top basketball management post and reclaim his ownership shares in the team when he retires after this season, he said Chicago is "a second thought."
"My focus here is to go back upstairs," said Jordan, who was the team's president of basketball operations and part owner for 19 months before unretiring to play before the 2001-2002 season. "Hopefully, the way things we have thought about and talked about, it works out that way. If it doesn't, then obviously I have options, not just Chicago but other options as well. For me, ideally, is to keep this thing rolling, keep this team moving in the right direction. Chicago is a second thought as well as any other opportunities."
The Bulls' top front-office job became available this week when longtime executive vice president Jerry Krause resigned. Jordan played for the Bulls for 13 seasons, winning six championships. It is not certain Chicago will pursue Jordan. League sources said the expansion Charlotte franchise, owned by Black Entertainment Television founder Robert Johnson, a friend of Jordan's, is expected to offer Jordan ownership shares and a high-ranking executive post.
Title Team Honored
The Wizards honored the 1977-78 Bullets championship team last night with a halftime ceremony at MCI Center. Coach Dick Motta and nearly every player from that team -- Wes Unseld, Phil Chenier, Kevin Grevey, Mitch Kupchak and Bobby Dandridge among them -- were in attendance for the 25th anniversary celebration.
The only players from that team not there were Elvin Hayes, whose number is retired, and Greg Ballard, an assistant with the Timberwolves who was traveling with Minnesota.
The players were given a framed replica of their jerseys as part of the halftime ceremony.
The ceremony struck a particular chord with Wizards Coach Doug Collins, who was a player on the Philadelphia 76ers team the Bullets eliminated in the Eastern Conference finals on their way to the championship. The Bullets beat Seattle for the title.
"As much as I hate to see them honor that team, that's the team that beat us," Collins said. "I'm having a flashback, not a good one here." . . .
The Wizards wore the retro-red, white and blue Bullets' uniforms -- forward Kwame Brown unbraided his hair and sported a blow-out afro -- a look befitting the era.
Washington will wear those uniforms for their final two home games Saturday and Monday, then the uniforms will be given to the players or possibly auctioned for charity. . . .
Wizards guard Larry Hughes, who has been out with a sprained right ankle, was healthy enough to play but was kept out until he goes through a full practice, Collins said.