Penny outshines MJ at 'Comeback Camp'
Updated: Wednesday August 29, 2001 12:52 PM
CHICAGO, Aug 24 (Reuters) -- Michael Jordan has been outshone by a host of other players at his personal tryout camp, a Chicago paper reported on Friday.
According to one of the players in camp, speaking on condition of anonymity, Jordan's team was beaten in 10 straight mini-games by a squad of current NBA players on Wednesday, the third day of the camp.
The 38-year-old retired Chicago Bulls superstar, now a Washington Wizards executive and part owner, got upset with every loss, the Chicago Sun-Times said.
Meanwhile, the Washington Post reported that the Wizards would go from just one national television appearance to close to maximum coverage if Jordan returned as a player.
Jordan has asked all the players not to talk about what goes on inside the Chicago gym where he is testing himself ahead of a mid-September decision about playing again.
But according to the anonymous informant, the best players were Penny Hardaway (Phoenix Suns), Tim Hardaway (just traded to the Dallas Mavericks), Michael Finley (Mavericks) Charles Oakley (recently traded to the Chicago Bulls) and Bobby Simmons (Seattle SuperSonics).
"Like everybody else, Jordan had a lot of fun except for the losing," the player told the Sun-Times. "He got upset with each loss.
"But there was little that he or anybody else could do because -- man! -- this was a day when Tim, Penny, Finley, Oakley and Simmons could do no wrong."
"I thought that Penny was the best player on the floor," another player told the Sun-Times. "Tim and Michael Finley also played great, Bobby is really impressive, and Oakley was just awesome.
"But Penny appears to finally be healthy again, and he's getting his confidence back."
Hardaway, 30, has contributed little since being traded from Orlando to Phoenix two years ago, afflicted with injuries and questions about his toughness.
This summer, however, he led a team to the Southern California Pro Basketball League championship, then played among the rookies and reserves of the Rocky Mountain Revue before looking for more action at Jordan's camp.
Injuries have slowed Jordan, too.
He has said he was fully recovered from his rib injuries but has knee tendinitis.
"Michael played OK, but he mostly took it easy," the first player quoted by the Sun-Times said. "He was really pacing himself, probably because of that tendinitis in his knee. I've had the same thing and it's hell. Every NBA player gets it sooner or later.
"But Michael is being smart about this thing. He is more interested in winning the war than winning the battle. He obviously is working his way back into this thing gradually and doesn't want to try to do too much too soon and risk making his injury worse."
The Sun-Times said that other NBA players brought in this week by Tim Grover, Jordan's trainer, included Jerry Stackhouse (Detroit), Antoine Walker (Boston), Juwan Howard (Dallas) and Quentin Richardson (Clippers).
The Sun-Times also reported problems with fans at the gym earlier in the week, forcing Grover to call the police twice, but by Wednesday the crowd outside was down to 100.
Television networks were also preparing for a surge of interest should Jordan end his three-year retirement, the Washington Post said.
The Wizards are not on NBC's schedule at all and appear only once on the Turner Sports schedule, at Philadelphia against the Eastern Conference champion 76ers on November 28.
But NBC Sports Chairman Dick Ebersol said all that would change if the Wizards had Jordan on the floor.
"If he comes back, we have the flexibility to get him on close to the maximum number of times we're allowed, if we so choose," Ebersol told the Post, declining further comment.
NBC is allowed a maximum of 11 appearances by any one team during its season.
Turner spokesman Greg Hughes said Jordan's presence could mean TNT and TBS might televise a maximum of 15 Washington games, the newspaper reported.
The Wizards open their season on October 30 against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. If Jordan comes back, the game is virtually guaranteed to be telecast by TBS, league sources told the Post.
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